Fare with Flair

4 years ago

Flavors perfected: Sample how the expertly made citrus sauce mingles with the delicate flavors of the salmon in the Salmone Fresco Agli Agrumi

ITALY CREATES FOOD with such passion that the word gusto has seeped from their language and into the global vernacular. Caruso, a long-time establishment in Bel-Air, Makati, serves up authentic Italian fare with flair.

Enrico Caruso, King of Tenors, was a man who came from humble origins in Naples, Italy, yet rose to household-name heights of fame. The restaurant lovingly named after him relives the same success story with each of its dishes: simple ingredients elevated through craftsmanship.

The first dish served in Caruso, even before the antipasti, is the ambiance. Located at the LRI Plaza on Nicanor Garcia Street in Makati, Caruso is set far back enough from the busy street to avoid outside noise, and the restaurant is divided into spaces that encourage two values that Italians—and Filipinos—hold dear: a large main dining area for family gatherings, and secluded booths and individual tables in enclaves for intimacy and romance. The restaurant is gently and warmly lit, and decorated in an elegant vintage manner. Caruso, however, is not an intimidating restaurant; rather, it feels as inviting as a sit down dinner in the home of an especially well-off friend—one who serves up dishes with both bravura and tradition.


The Antipasto Terra: an appetizer done right

The cold cuts array listed in the Antipasto Terra is classically Italian, and exemplary of Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region. The paper-thin slices of mortadella, which originated in the capital city Bologna, are pungent and intensely-flavored, while the thicker salami Felino from Parma melts mildly in the mouth. The prosciutto crudo hails from the same area but is saltier, silken, and delicate. The plate is generous for an appetizer; the Misto Di Affetati Italiani e Verdure Marinate is good for two people prolonging an affectionate conversation.


The Antipasti Mare features Caruso’s talent in making excellent carpaccios

The Antipasti Mare, Trittico Carpacci di Pesci e Insalate de Mare, is good for two as well, but the servings are smaller, as the flavors are stronger. The three kinds of carpaccio—the creamy salmon, the lemony tuna, and the nearly-umami lapu-lapu are refreshed by the accompanying seafood salad of mussels, squid, and greens in light balsamic vinegar.

Caruso adheres to time-tested tradition by baking their pizza in an enormous authentic brick oven, which sits within the view of diners in the main dining area. The pizza at Caruso is known to be remarkable, especially the minimalist freshness of the Margherita which boasts the colors of the Italian flag.

The pasta makes hearty individual dishes beside a pizza to share, and because the pasta is also homemade, it’s no less authentic. The Raviolini Emiliani, ravioli’s smaller sister from the Emilia region, is decadent with ricotta, butter, spinach, and sage, while the Tagliatelle Alla Crema Di Tartufo e Parma ham is a quintessentially eggy truffle pasta speckled with flavorful Parma. For those who seek heartier flavors with less cream, the Garganelli Al Funghi dell ‘Ossala exists grandly, with the penne-like noodles scooping up most of the mushroom porcini sauce.

Main dishes in Caruso are Italian in their wise inventiveness, as large Italian families with equally large meals would come up with many ways to decorate a viand. Many variations on lapu-lapu are on the pesce list, as do the versions of veal in the carne section. With the Samon Fresco Agli Aguini, the salmon’s richness is matched to a thick lemon and orange citrus sauce, and the pan- fried veal slices in the Fettine Di Vitello Dorate are cut thin and soft enough to slice knifeless.


The Panna Cotta is a creamy, luscious treat with a nutty twist

The desserts pride themselves on being classic Italian fixtures, from the ice cream served affogato (“drowned” with a shot of espresso) to the sponge-soft tiramisu. The panna cotta, with its thick crust of burnt sugar and eggy custard, is the richest way to finish off a rich meal.

Diners who don’t shy away from decadence also have a highly accomplished wine list to peruse, and choices to make from sparkling wines, whites, reds, sweet wines, and celebratory prosecco. A pleasant surprise at the end of every meal is the complimentary shot of limoncello, though it could be expected from a restaurant in which the bar greets each patron upon their entrance. Limoncello, the bright liquor from the regions of southern Italy, is hailed as a digestivo, and is served chilled in small glass cups. The sharp sweet lemon with an ethanol kick cleanses the palate, lightens the spirit, and allows you to dream of eating some more.


Trittico Carpacci di Pesce e Insalate di Mare (P1460)
Misto di Affettati Italiani e Verdure Marinate (P1490)
Raviolini Emilliani Ripieni, al Burro e Salvia (P490)
Tagliatelle Alla Crema di Tartufo e Parma Ham (P680)
Garganelli ai Funghi Porcini dell’Ossola (P590)
Salmone Fresco Agli Agrumi (P720)
Fettine di Vitello Dorate (P860)
Panna Cotta (P280)

TEL. NO. 02 895-8790

Words by Petra Magno. Photographed by Ed Simon of Studio 100. Art direction by by Monica Esquivel and Janelle Año.

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