Pagliacci at the Podium is one of the few Italian places in Manila that has an Italian owner and chef. It was my second time to eat here and sample the varied items on the menu, especially since other people were paying. The last condition is important since I’ve pretty much given up shelling out my hard-earned money for “over-rated” pasta outside when I can very well cook it at home.
Since it was three o’clock in the afternoon, it was safe to skip the soup, salad and antipasto and settle for good ol’ pizza and pasta instead. The salmon pizza still didn’t arrive after 30 minutes so we cancelled it. The server mumbled about the oven temperature not working or something. We were excited, however, to sample the noodles especially the house “must-try:” spaghetti tavolara which was crab fat, shrimps, roasted bell pepper and tomato sauce sauteed in olive oil. I have to agree that it was good, though the crab fat itself is not healthy and I wondered if the taba ng talangka was Made in Italy too (as you will see later). Next was the Spaghetti Al Nero di Seppia, admittedly an adventurous choice. This is basically your squid ink pasta with squid cream and chili. Yay! Our mouth and teeth turned black as we ate.. one fun exercise you can have but definitely not on a date! I really didn’t find anything special with the sauce as I imagined whatever was left of my adobong pusit on this pasta.
I thought the best thing about Pagliacci was their assortment of homemade gelato made by Chef Maurizio Gibillini himself from all-imported ingredients. What’s good is that they give you a free taste of the flavors, and the ice cream’s not purportedly high fat – less than 170 calories per so- and so- grams. We had fun sampling the gelato zabaione (with strawberry-colored butter finger), the panna cotta and the tartufo ( chocolate with rum raisin). But my favorites were the tiramisu and coconut – sort of like our macapuno- which the Chef said isn’t from Philippines but from Europe, as he explained that Philippine coconuts didn’t make his grade (with bigotry showing).
In a nutshell, I love Italian food but I have a disdain for Italians (a close friend calls them the Pinoys of Europe). Somehow, I am put in a situation to despise them such as when I was writing down the names of some of the items on the menu and the chef approached me to say it’s a no-no. That’s because they’ve had an unpleasant experience with a competitor who “copied” their menu. I thought that’s silly. How can I be suspected of copying from a menu which simply described the food being offered? I can always google the internet for a recipe and improvise on it. And since when has writing in a restaurant been curtailed by the Bill of Rights? ewwee..
I have to admit though, the Venetian dolls on the walls look really great. I’d like to have one of them. And I’d like to go to the Podium again not only for Pagliacci but to try the other interesting restos there.
Pagliacci is at the 5/F of The Podium, ADB Ave., Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong City, tel. no. 687-1514