This may be the best Italian style restaurant I have been to in the Philippines. Beyond the basics of spaghetti and sauce, or the menu of five kinds of pasta and five different sauces to create twenty five items, this is more of a classical Italian menu where the spirit of Italian cooking is present throughout. Lamb shank, ox-tongue, and the classic osso buco... if you go, skip the pastas. Order something an Italian grandmother would make for your birthday. Italian cooking requires a deep understanding of ingredients and spices that are often foreign to the asian diet and the ability to use them efficiently as good Italian cooking is sparse, fresh and pure. That understanding is present with Chef Chris.
Everyone raves about the Panizza. While this is certainly tasty, these are not very “Italian” and I think these are generally over prepared and undercooked. As there are no appetizers on the menu, Panizza doubles as the house style pizza and the appetizer option. If you are a party of two, 1/2 of one is a decent appetizer. I also suggest asking for half the ingredients normally added. Instead of bacon, ham, onion, tomatoes and mushrooms, limit it to maybe just two items to bring it to a more authentic place. But if this is your meal, then by all means load it up.
Weak points on the menu were the desserts, which I suspect is evidence of a weak sous or line chef. The cannoli is chewy, not crisp. The tiramisu is good, but a little strong on the rum, and it almost tasted like amaretto had been added with the alcohol flavors overpowering the delicacy of the dish.
The other weak point is the physical location and actual restaurant. The hotel that houses the restaurant is horribly outclassed by the food. While the food would fit in with the best restaurants in Greenbelt, the restaurant is 100% old city and Filipino and could just as easily be serving chinese food. While across the street from the wonderful Paco Park, the actual restaurant is without any innate charm.
If you want to try true Italian style cooking in Manila, enjoy the work of Chef Chris. Were the physical plant in a better location with more style and a better feel, I would probably give this place an excellent across the board.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.