Mario’s Restaurant has been there for as long as we can remember. During a dinner recently, we were surprised to find out from Mario’s scion Fil Benitez that the original Mario’s in Baguio City is 37 years old, while the one in QC is 28 years old! I believe these two are the only surviving branches now; still, that’s impressive for a highly competitive industry where the average life span is from five to ten years.
In the case of Mario’s, it pays to be known for something. It has always been a preferred place for cozy meetings and romantic dates. We learned that they pay attention to nitty-gritty details like installing the right lighting, comfy nooks, and even a “back entrance” for personalities who want to stay away from the public eye.
Then of course, there’s the food. Even with the Wagyu craze around, Mario’s rep (reputation) as a place for mouth-watering steaks has stuck. I must say its Caesar’s Salad is one of the best in town, and will easily turn a carnivore into a vegetarian overnight. House bestsellers include Spanish specialties like paella, lengua and cochinillo (roast suckling pig).
The Paella Valenciana is a classic Spanish rice dish made more flavorful with seafood, veggies, chicken and chorizo. Mario’s serving (P595) is good for two to three persons.
The Callos a la Madrilena (P360) is a rich savory casserole made from ox tripe, sausages, garbanzos and other ingredients stewed in tomato sauce.
Because I wanted a little bit of everything, I ordered a new item on the menu, the Tuscany Platter (P595) THis had a trio of beef tenderloin, cajun prawn and pan-fried fish fillet. Rating: nomnomnom goodness!
…. but not without stuffing my plate first with the appetizers like Oysters Rockefeller, gambas and mushrooms with garlic.
What’s a Mario’s dinner without indulging in something like Steak a la Pobre? I think the Philippines is one of the few places in the world where you can find this kind of steak, which is “for garlic lovers only!”
For dessert, we had Mango Jubilee (P310) and the head waiter prepared it in front of us. Mango balls were flambeed in butter, brown sugar, and triple sec then topped over vanilla ice cream.
Thanks to Mr. Fil Benitez for hosting a wonderful evening filled with fun, food, and uhmm, flambeed mangoes. Wish you could open a branch near Manila soon 🙂
191 Tomas Morato Avenue
corner Scout Gandia Quezon City
Tel. Nos. 372 0360, 415 3887
Session Road, Baguio City
(074) 442 4241