Monday, October 7, 2019

First Bite: La Vita Ristorante Italiano

Ever since it reopened, Podium has been busy upping its dining options. With some of my favorites in place, this mall brought in a few more international brands as well as new names. One of which is La Vita, an Italian restaurant headed by Chef Maurizio Gabillini. It may be new in the neighborhood but word that it offers authentic Italian fare spread out fast making this new spot very busy during lunch and dinner.

Hello, La Vita Ristorante Italiano
Visiting Italy last year made me realize why Italians are very particular with the food they eat. Most, if not all, restaurants take pride in using only the freshest and finest ingredients in the market. Hence, it wasn't that hard to come across good tasting food. In fact, we didn't even have to go to fancy places to indulge. However, pizza and pasta in Manila are too influenced by other cuisines. You'd encounter several fusions here and there with many not working at all; it just happen to be pretty and Instagram-worthy. La Vita, on the other hand, aims to be different and promises to deliver authentic Italian cuisine. 
A display showcase of Italian cold cuts and cheeses are the first thing you'll see once you step inside La Vita. 
Its warm ambient lights give the restaurant a luxurious and romantic vibe perfect for dates or special meetings. 
I was impressed that the menu is extensive and has dishes catering everyone's palate. 
We started off with three kinds of soup--Zuppa Alla Mantovana (PHP220), Crema Di Funghi Selvatici (PHP220) and Caciucco alla Livornese (PHP240).
Zuppa alla Mantovana is a bowl of creamy pumpkin soup cooked with Italian sausage. It had the perfect level of creaminess leaving you with enough room for your main dish and dessert. Add a bit of pepper for extra taste. 
Crema di Funghi Selvatici is your usual creamy mushroom soup. The one served to us wasn't as thick too but seemed to be a bit light on flavor. I would have loved this more if they added more wild dry porcini and put some truffle oil for aroma and flavor. 
But my favorite among the three is Caciucco alla Livornese. The chunky tomato soup with mix seafood is one of the heartiest soups I've had. Do note that this has a mild spice to it so kids may not appreciate it as much. 
If soup is too heavy for you, grab one of La Vita's fresh greens. I loved "My Way" Salad (PHP230) a lot. As a fan of Caesar Salad, I really liked how Chef Maurizio transformed this salad to an even more delectable kind. Tossed with La Vita's homemade mayonnaise and topped with anchovies, fresh dill and caviar, each bite was refreshing and tickled my taste buds pink!
Two carpaccio dishes were also served--Carpaccio di Pulpo alla Sarda (PHP280) and Beef Carpaccio alla Cipriani (PHP300).
I'm a bit biased though with pulpo as I love anything with octopus. The Italian vinaigrette was also a lovely touch as it added zest to the dish. I'm not a big fan of raw beef but La Vita's Beef Carpaccio alla Cipriani was good too as it was made flavorful by olive oil, lemon, dash of chili and shaved Parmesan cheese. But I still prefer the former. 
Dining out with non-adventurous eaters? Pizza is a safe option, particularly Pizza 4 Formaggi with Chorizo (PHP500). 
The combination of mozzarella, Gorgonzola, Caciocavallo, fresh Parmesan and chorizo had surprisingly light flavors. I didn't find it cloying at all. 
Another light flavored pizza is Mortadella e Cacciofi (PHP440). This cream based pizza with mozzarella, artichoke and mortadella goes pretty well with a glass or two of white wine.
La Vita's most popular pizza though is its Pizza con Burrata Fresca (PHP540) which is topped with fresh burrata. I loved the slight sweet and sour flavor brought by the tomato sauce and the earthy taste of arugula. 
Make sure to get a bit of burrata too to go with your portion for that lovely creamy texture. 

For a classic combination, grab a plate or two of pasta too. We had Linguine Allatavolara (PHP400) and Pappardelle alla Crema di Tartufo (PHP440).
If you prefer spicy food, this pasta cooked with chili and crab paste will be something you'd enjoy. It was bursting with seafood flavors yet not fishy at all. I found it a bit too spicy for my liking though. 
I loved Pappardelle alla Crema di Tartufo more as it was made with truffle! It wasn't very fragrant but you could definitely taste the truffle. I hope that they served it with bread so that we could enjoy every drop of the pasta's thick cream.
Do also try Risotto Profumo di Legna (PHP460) which had that wonderful smokey flavor from scarmoza. 
There are also cheese and cold cuts platter perfect for wine nights! This hefty plate here only costs PHP750!

My trip to Italy made me realize how great Italian desserts are. Each one I tried were beautifully and delicately made. Flavors were well balanced and definitely capped every meal perfectly. And same is true with La Vita's sweet endings.  
The Panna Cotta con Miele al Profumo di Tartufo (PHP280) may be a bit pricy for its serving size. But this smooth panna cotta was nothing short of exemplary! Milky in every bite, I loved how the sauces complemented it instead of overpowering.  
Its Tiramisu Affogato al Bailey's (PHP280) infused with coffee liquor and smothered with layers of mascarpone cream is a must order dish as well. This one has stronger flavor and great for those who prefer bolder and sweeter desserts.
And for chocolate lovers, this glass of Mousse di Cioccolato (PHP280) is the one for you. Rich in every spoonful, your sweet tooth will leave La Vita happy and content.  
I left La Vita thinking of when to drop by again. I can't wait to have more of my new favorites. 

La Vita Ristorante Italiano is located at 3rd Floor, Podium Mall, ADB Avenue, Ortigas Center, Pasig City.

La Vita Ristorante Italiano Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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