Permeating a classy vibe, Caruso Ristorante Italiano in Nicanor Garcia Street, Makati (an easy walk from SM Jazz Mall) is where dishes are expertly prepared and enhanced with a solid wine list raising the bar for your mealtime pleasure. This restaurant which started operating since 15 years ago was named after Enrico Caruso who’s regarded by many music lovers as the greatest Italian operatic tenor of all time.
Caruso is a high-end authentic Italian restaurant offering a cozy, quaint ambiance for customers who appreciate fine dining and delicious Italian food. It’s a popular choice for expats and a date-night nexus of romantics. Louie and I had lunch here last Saturday with its owner, Emilio Mina, and Online Community Marketing Manager, EJ Santos, as our kind and gracious hosts.
Review of Caruso Ristorante Italiano (Bel-Air, Makati City)
The interior design of Caruso Ristorante Italiano looked like a page out of Italy. And why shouldn’t it be, this restaurant has a traditional look with rustic furniture and wooden white-clothed tables. Lightning levels and spaciousness complete the atmosphere where people can unwind in an intimate setting. Soft music playing on the background added to the unpretentious charm.
The place also finds personality with paintings/artworks and fine wine bottles displayed at the bar section and some hanging on the walls. It’s exactly where I can imagine men in suits and women in beautiful dresses get together for a refined meal. Speaking of attire, wearing of shorts, sando, and slippers is not allowed inside.
The staff were all knowledgeable on the menu and they provided exquisite service. Since items on the menu are in Italian, first-timers who find it difficult to understand and order may find it best to allow the waiters to drive recommendations while they ride along. Every request was handled promptly and effectively, and personal attention made us feel more welcome.
Our meal began on a high note, with a complimentary round of freshly baked Focaccia bread delivered to the table. As dip, the combination of balsamic vinegar and olive oil was deceptively simple yet tasty, resulting in a mouthwatering epicurean delight. Much like French fries with your burger, this bread can be treated as a good “sidekick” for any main pasta entrée as well.
La Risacca Salad (PhP 860) consisted of juicy chunks of tomatoes and plump shrimps in tortella. The shrimp’s taste was straightforward and won the perfect marriage of sweet and savory right in a bite. Yes, it was appetizing albeit not too bold and exciting in terms of flavor. We just wished there were more basil leaves or lettuce to the salad. It’s a good move to get this dish, if you’re not much of an adventurous eater.
Given choices for pasta, which would you prefer: red, white, or green? The good news is that in Caruso Ristorante Italiano, the answer can be all of the above. A long list of different kinds of pasta is available on the menu, and customers are free to choose three kinds of pasta in seafood sauce to be served in one plate. Note: Portions are rather small compared to the full-fledged/regular portion.
We had Spaghetti Aglio Olio e Peperoncino con Vongole (PhP 590 – regular size)—spaghetti with garlic, olive oil, chili and clams, Garganelli in Salsa di Pomodoro e Gamberetti (PhP 630 – regular size)—homemade garganelli with shrimp and tomato sauce, and Tagliolini Portofino con Salmone e Caviale (PhP 750 – regular size)—homemade taglioni with salmon and caviar. All three were creamy and perfectly seasoned, neither heavy nor greasy.
Capping off our carbs quota, the Tagliatelle Alla Crema di Tartufo (PhP 680) was finished with truffle cream and topped with the lovely parma ham. It’s both decadent and comforting, with a hint of truffles.
In a world filled with too many kinds of pizzas, the awesome flavor of cheese may be one of the most basic edible explanation proving why classic cheese pizza is a hit. Boasting the three colors of the Italian flag—red (tomatoes), white (Mozzarella cheese), and green (basil), the Margherita Pizza (PhP 670) was simple and just timeless. I would have found it more remarkable with a thinner and crispier crust.
The Margherita with Mozzarella Bufala (PhP 980) was presented with a slight upgrade from the Margherita Pizza; that is, with the snowy white bufala mozzarella cheese featuring a mild and slightly sour taste. The pizza crust was about the same, soft and a bit chewy.
For dessert, we had the deliciously creamy classic Italian Panna Cotta (PhP 360) which took me like on a mini Italian vacation while relishing it with my eyes closed. The concoction of this sweet pudding-like treat can put the regular panna cotta or leche flan we know to shame. Its texture was so good I just can’t get enough! 🙂 Obviously, it’s a must-try.
Punctuating the end of lunch was Caruso’s Tiramisu (PhP 360), which was likewise flavorful without being too dense. Those layers of cocoa-dusted mascarpone, coffee syrup and sweet, light cake were definitely delightful. Once you taste heaven, you wouldn’t to come back down to earth.
As a good wine paired to every dish, we tried the Prosecco Brut Treviso Agr. Venegazzù Veneto (PhP 380/glass, PhP 2800/bottle) (second from the left on the picture below) which brought out the fruity taste of tomatoes and the inherent sweetness of the cheese, framing up the integrity and quality of the other ingredients overall. It was zesty and enjoyable, party in the mouth! 🙂
Price for Value: ★★☆☆☆
So far, at Caruso Ristorante Italiano, price for value does not quite deserve a standing ovation. Classic Italian fare served with flair and care is what you’ll find here, so it’s probably best to consider it a distinguished night out and you won’t be mad. In any case, if you’re a seriously loved-up fan of Italian food or celebrating a special occasion, it’s okay to indulge without minding the high prices, as food tastes and ambiance surely won’t make you feel disappointed.
Bon appétit! 🙂
Caruso will be hosting KIDSPIZZA Awards, a painting competition for children under 11 years old, starting from September 13, 2015 until November 29, 2015.
A. 11:00AM to 3:00PM – Lunch at Caruso with Pizza Shape of Winnie the Pooh and other animals like the cat, fish, duck, etc. or their usual pizza and menu.
B. Children who will participate in the competition have to give their three paintings made at home to the judge representing Galeria Astra.
C. The painting will be submitted to three famous judge-painters. The declaration of winners will be on November 29, 2015 in Galeria Astra with special concert of children and famous testimonials.
As prizes, winners will receive the following respectively:
1st: PhP 10,000 + bonus for Hong Kong Disneyland with airplane ticket for three + one night in Disneyland Hotel
2nd: PhP 7,000 + 3 tickets to KidZania
3rd: PhP 5,000 + 2 tickets to KidZania
4th: PhP 5,000 + 2 tickets to KidZania
Free gifts will be given to all participants of the competition. 🙂