Sultry nights of Fil-Mex food and rockin’ music are comin’ at Bodega Casa Villa, Marikina

In one of the quiet roads of Marikina just off the major thoroughfare that is Gil Fernando Avenue is a burst of vibrant colors, tastes and sounds, a perfect venue for chilling out when the sultry summer nights come along.

Bodega Casa Villa is a Fil-Mex restaurant that seeks to bring the fun and spice of Mexican food to the Filipino palate. This results to a mix of contrasts: spicy dishes and refreshing drinks, a rockin’ and colorfully decorated al fresco dining and bar area outside and a homey yet well appointed setting inside, and signature Mexican dishes using Pinoy ingredients.

Bodega Casa Villa, Marikina

Bodega Casa Villa, Marikina

Bodega Casa Villa, Marikina

Bodega Casa Villa, Marikina

Bodega Casa Villa, Marikina

Bodega Casa Villa, Marikina

The Latin vibe is alive and well in this resto, from the murals and sombreros that adorn the warmly colored walls, the ornate mirrors in the washing area and restroom, to the table napkins that mark each place setting.

Bodega Casa Villa, Marikina

Bodega Casa Villa, Marikina

Bodega Casa Villa, Marikina

Bodega Casa Villa, Marikina

Bodega Casa Villa, Marikina

Together with other local foodies, I was able to try out its Fil-Mex fare, which include:

Mucho Nacho Bodega (Php230). Large piece of crrrrunchy corn nachos topped with salsa fresca, jalapeno peppers, garlic cream, queso sauce, and our very own longganisa and kesong puti!

Bodega Casa Villa, Marikina

Bodega Casa Villa, Marikina

Sinugbang Maiz “Elote” (Php120). A very fresh twist on the grilled corn-on-the-cob (“sinugba” being the Cebuano term for anything grilled), succulent grilled corn are coated with a mixture of mayo, parmesan and cheese powder, then flavored with spices, cilantro and lime.

Bodega Casa Villa, Marikina

Bodega Casa Villa, Marikina

Crispy Dinuguan Burrito (Php250). Hefty rolls of burritos stuffed with rice flavored with dinuguan (Filipino version of blood stew), pork meat and lettuce, and served with bits of chicharon (pork skin cracklings) for added crunch and flavor. These are served with salsa verde and chipotle salsa.

Bodega Casa Villa, Marikina

Bodega Casa Villa, Marikina

Taco Trio (Php295). A triad of soft-shell tacos, each with a different flavorful filling: the Pork Bagnet Sisig, the Chicken Inasal and the Beef Barbacoa. Enjoy these with salsa verde, chipotle salsa and garlic cream sauce.

Bodega Casa Villa, Marikina

Bodega Casa Villa, Marikina

Aligue Squid Pasta (Php275). Cappelini pasta tossed in a decadent aligue (crab fat) sauce along with rings of grilled squid.

Bodega Casa Villa, Marikina

Bodega Casa Villa, Marikina

Stacked Chicken Wings (Php765). A mountain of twenty-four (!!!) meaty and juicy pieces of fried chicken wings doused in three different kinds sauces: Parmesan, Quezo and Chipotle. Have a taste for adventure? Reach into a platter of these without looking at what you’re getting and take a bite. Personally, I love the Parmesan-coated wings.

Bodega Casa Villa, Marikina

Bodega Casa Villa, Marikina

Be sure to check out the bar’s signature cocktails and other drinks while you’re enjoying the food and the live acoustic music.

Bodega Casa Villa, Marikina

Bodega Casa Villa, Marikina

Bodega Casa Villa, Marikina

It sure looks like Fil-Mex foodie adventurers have a new home in Marikina!

Bodega Casa Villa, Marikina

Bodega Casa Villa, Marikina

Hankering for a chill and enjoyable night out with your friends? Take advantage of the resto’s various promos!

Php200/6 Bote. Get six bottles of San Miguel Beer products for only Php200 every Monday.

Taco Tuesday. Buy one get one on all tacos every Tuesday.

Beer-All-You-Can Wednesdays (Php350). Chug down all the brews you can muster, every Wednesday from 5pm to 10pm.

Bring Your Own Bottle Thursdays. Got your signature drink at home? Bring it here as there is no corkage fee, then enjoy it together with your fave Fil-Mex dishes and chill sounds.

Thanks to Fat Girls Day Out for extending the invitation!

Bodega Casa Villa is located at 48 Dragon Street, San Roque, Marikina, open daily from 5pm to midnight. For inquiries and reservations, call +63 2 6451952.

Bodega Casa Villa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclosure: Together with other food bloggers, I was invited to attend a foodie meetup held in this restaurant. Food items mentioned here were served to allow us to sample the fare and were not paid for by the attendees, including myself.

Check out my reviews of other restaurants serving Mexican food:

Take a gastronomic trip around the world at Passenger Seat, Marikina

If taking a tour of the world to experience the cuisines that each country has to offer is included in your bucket list, you’re in luck. You actually won’t need to leave the metro to do just that. Simply hie on over to Passenger Seat at Riverbanks Center and begin your journey.

The restaurant’s plane-themed decor stems from the owner Mayee’s original ambition to be a flight attendant. As she couldn’t pass the qualifications for this job, she decided to establish a plane-themed restaurant with the help of her parents and her boyfriend after graduation instead. This was inspired by a similar eatery in Taiwan that she saw online.

Passenger Seat, Marikina

Passenger Seat, Marikina

Passenger Seat, Marikina

Passenger Seat, Marikina

Her boyfriend Ralph, a Hotel and Restaurant Management graduate, helped her develop the menu. Encompassing both local and international cuisines, Passenger Seat’s food offerings feature whimsical and travel-themed names.

Passenger Seat, Marikina

Passenger Seat, Marikina

Take the Boodle Flights, for example. These menu items are named after boodle fights, the Pinoy-style communal feast wherein various viands surround a pile of steamed rice served on banana leaf. These are usually eaten by hand amidst a boisterous group of friends or family.

Manila (Php585, good for 2-3 persons) features all-meat viands which features Chicken Inasal, Lechon Kawali and Grilled Liempo, served with Salted Egg, Boiled Okra, Grilled Eggplant, Ensalada, Steamed Rice and a pitcher of Iced Tea.

Passenger Seat, Marikina

Passenger Seat, Marikina

Palawan (Php599, good for 2-3 persons), on the other hand, is the seafood lovers Boodle Flight with Daing na Bangus, Grilled Stuffed Squid and Buttered Shrimp, also served with Salted Egg, Boiled Okra, Grilled Eggplant, Ensalada, Steamed Rice and a pitcher of Iced Tea.

Passenger Seat, Marikina

Passenger Seat, Marikina

Up for an all-out food feast with the entire barkada or fam?  Opt for Pilipinas (Php1,499) then. It has all of the viands of Manila and Palawan and twice the amount of the accompanying eggs, veggies, rice and iced tea.

Passenger Seat, Marikina

Passenger Seat, Marikina

If you’re not up for Boodle Flights, don’t fret.  You can always opt for Single Flights, single-serve food items inspired by key dishes from each region, whether domestic or abroad.

Tagaytay (Php350), features the place’s most famous dish: the Bulalo.  The flavorful broth is coupled with the tender meat (with tendons that actually melt in your mouth), made even more special with the much-sought after bone marrow.

Passenger Seat, Marikina

Zambales Sinigang sa Miso (Php235) and Sampaloc Singang na Hipon (Php240) are answers to those craving for seafood and sour broth.

Passenger Seat, Marikina

Passenger Seat, Marikina

Mexico (Php159) features the country’s crisp corn nachos topped with homemade salsa, ground beef, tomatoes, onions and torched cheese.

Passenger Seat, Marikina

The Califoria (Php125), on the other hand, is a meaty quarter pound patty of specially seasoned ground beef topped with three types of cheeses along with lettuce, tomato and cucumber.

Passenger Seat, Marikina

Passenger Seat, Marikina

Want some fries with that? Then check out Brussels (Php65), a mother lode of French fries topped with meat bits and loads of cheese!

Passenger Seat, Marikina

Chicken wings such as the teriyaki-flavored Kyoto (Php159) and the spicy buffalo New York (Php169) are great to munch chased by pretty mocktails such as the Shirley Temple (Pink Illusion – Php75) or Roy Rogers (Cherry Cala – Php75).

Passenger Seat, Marikina

Passenger Seat, Marikina

Passenger Seat, Marikina

Passenger Seat, Marikina

Carbo-loading? Head on over to France (Php155) for some pasta and seafood in homemade red sauce, to Rome (Php155) for some creamy sauce littered with bacon, ham and mushroom bits, or to Italy (Php155) for some heat from chili flakes mixed into the aglio e olio pasta sauce.

Passenger Seat, Marikina

Passenger Seat, Marikina

Passenger Seat, Marikina

Refresh yourself with shakes made of fruits in season at Php125 each such as the Pangasinan (watermelon), Baguio City (strawberry) and Guimaras (ripe mango).

Passenger Seat, Marikina

Passenger Seat, Marikina

Passenger Seat, Marikina

Don’t forget to reward yourself with something sweet and decadent (I know I won’t)! It’s Belgium Sizzling Brownies are topped with either classic or special Uncle D’s ice cream.

Passenger Seat, Marikina

Passenger Seat, Marikina

If you brought your whimsical and adventurous side when you visit Passenger Seat, you’re in for quite a trip best enjoyed with a large group of fam and friends!

Passenger Seat, Marikina

Passenger Seat, Marikina

Passenger Seat is located at Ground Floor, Riverbanks Mall, A. Bonifacio Avenue, Barangka, Marikina City. For reservations and inquiries, call +63 917 8373695.

Passenger Seat Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclosure: Together with other food bloggers, I was invited to attend a food tasting held in this restaurant. Food items mentioned here were served to allow us to sample the fare and were not paid for by the attendees, including myself.

5 reasons why Novotel is your family’s staycation destination

Now that the holiday rush is over, I felt that the family deserves a treat. That’s why we hied off to Novotel Manila Araneta Center for our first family staycation.

This hotel is the first Novotel in the country. Situated in the hectic commercial district of Cubao, it provides a haven where the metro’s denizens and visitors alike can enjoy great food and outstanding accommodations.

There is a quite a number of hotels in the city but let me give you five reasons why Novotel is your family’s staycation destination.

One: Luxurious comfort in simple yet elegant surroundings

Upon entering Novotel’s well-appointed lobby, we were enveloped by a sense of welcome: from the clean lines and soft lighting of the interiors, soft music playing in the background, the hassle-free check-in process and the friendly assistance from the hotel staff – especially towards my inquisitive little boy – we were impressed by the feeling of warm hospitality and comfort.

Novotel Manila Araneta Center

Novotel Manila Araneta Center

We opted for a Superior Twin Bed Room, perfect for our family of four. It is tastefully designed to have a modern yet homey feel with earth colors accented by cool blues and greens. The beds have nice firm matresses covered in cool and smooth white linen sheets that made me want to snuggle in under the covers with my kiddies while watching movies on the big-screen TV. The couch by the window is also the perfect place to catch up on my reading.

Novotel Manila Araneta Center

Novotel Manila Araneta Center

Novotel Manila Araneta Center

Novotel Manila Araneta Center

Novotel Manila Araneta Center

Novotel Manila Araneta Center

Novotel Manila Araneta Center

Novotel Manila Araneta Center

A spacious closet is on hand to store clothes and other personal belongings with a mini-fridge built-in with complimentary bottles of drinking water for the guests’ convenience.

If you forgot to bring your personal items, don’t fret because Novotel supplies guests with eco-friendly toiletries in keeping with the hotel’s advocacy for global sustainable development.

Novotel Manila Araneta Center

Novotel Manila Araneta Center

Novotel Manila Araneta Center

Novotel Manila Araneta Center

Two: A wide variety of exercise and recreation options

As he is already a pre-teen, my little boy eschewed the the hotel’s Kids Club and headed straight for the pool. There, he was able to splash around to his heart’s content. (And I was able to teach him how to float!)

Novotel Manila Araneta Center

Novotel Manila Araneta Center

Novotel Manila Araneta Center

Novotel Manila Araneta Center

Novotel Manila Araneta Center

Hubby, on the other hand, preferred to continue his workouts at the hotel gym the next day. Equipped with various exercise equipment, the gym is an excellent option to burn off those calories.

I joined him for a while and worked on achieving my 10k steps on the treadmill.

Afterwards, we each retreated to the male and female locker rooms to get a relaxing steam bath before rejoining the kiddos in the hotel room.

Novotel Manila Araneta Center

Novotel Manila Araneta Center

Novotel Manila Araneta Center

Novotel Manila Araneta Center

Novotel Manila Araneta Center

Novotel Manila Araneta Center

Novotel Manila Araneta Center

Three: A myriad of food choices within the hotel

When we hied ourselves over here, we brought our appetites with us; fortunately, Novotel has a great selection of restaurants to satisfy our cravings.

Take Food Exchange, for example. The site for sumptuous lunches and dinners became our first stop for breakfast after a restful night.

It featured a wide sampling of breakfast and dessert dishes from various cuisines. I absolutely adored the kind of cheesebread served; I’ve only tasted this kind of fluffy, sweet and salty pastries when I went on a Pampanga Food Crawl with my fellow bloggers last year. It’s perfectly matched with a cup of rich hot choco.

My little boy was over the moon for getting his favorite food – pizzas! – for breakfast. The fact that he ate them immediately after downing a bowl of milk and cereal still astounds me.

Food Exchange, Novotel Manila Araneta Center

Novotel Manila Araneta Center

Novotel Manila Araneta Center

Food Exchange, Novotel Manila Araneta Center

Novotel Manila Araneta Center

Indulge, the hotel’s ice cream bar, was my kiddos’ request from Day 1. And why not? We made sure to treat ouselves to some decadent gelatos and premium ice creams before we left the hotel.

Indulge, Novotel Manila Araneta Center

Indulge, Novotel Manila Araneta Center

Indulge, Novotel Manila Araneta Center

Novotel Manila Araneta

Alas, a nightcap at Sabor Bar de Vinos with Hubby would have to wait until our next visit. He would surely love its distinguished wine collection, while I would love to sink my teeth into its signature tapas.

Sabor Bar de Vinos, Novotel

Sabor Bar de Vinos, Novotel

Food Exchange, Novotel

Other foodie destinations within the hotel that I’d like to explore include the Gourmet Bar, a 24/7 lounge and and laid-back restaurant serving a gamut of dishes from breakfast treats, power lunches to midnight munchies, and The 6th Pool Bar, a relaxing venue where people can unwind beside the pool while enjoying the bar’s signature drinks and snacks.

Four: Proximity to various points of culture

This part of Quezon City is simply awash with things to see and places to go to.

You can catch concerts and theatrical plays at the Kia Performing Arts Theater, while a short distance away is the Art in Island Museum where visitors can take their pictures against wondrous 3D backdrops.

Within the immediate vicinity is Sining Kamalig, a contemporary Filipino art gallery within Ali Mall, which has become the home of works by the country’s finest artists.

A little further off are university-based galleries Arete in Ateneo de Manila University and and Vargas Museum in the University of the Philippines. Both have extensive collections of native and contemporary art.

Five: It’s loyalty program will make you feel welcome each time you stay.

By signing up as a member of Le Club AccorHotels, you will earn rewards points and status points for every stay at any of the 3,600 hotels in 100 countries where the AccorHotels group operates. Rewards and experiences that await you include premium packages reserved exclusively for members, frequent flyer points with major airlines and other partners, unforgettable experiences such as attendance to sports and cultural events in A VIP box.

As a new member, I was able enjoy online check-in and fast checkout, making the whole experience of our family staycation completely hassle-free.

My family and I had a great time with our staycation in Novotel, and we would definitely be back to enjoy more of its offerings.

Novotel Manila Araneta Center is located along General Aguinaldo Avenue, Araneta Center, Quezon City. For bookings and inquiries, call +63 2 9907888. For more details, visit novotelmanilaaranetacenter.com.

Room rates for 1-2 persons are:

  • Superior Room: Php6,641 (room only) | Php7,274 (bed and breakfast)
  • Deluxe Room: Php7,274 (room only) | Php7,906 (bed and breakfast)
  • Executive Room: Php9,804 (bed and breakfast)
  • Executive Suite: Php12,966 (bed and breakfast)
  • Presidential Suite: Php189,750 (bed and breakfast)
  • Additional person: Php1,265 (room only) | Php1,898 (bed and breakfast)

Disclosure: My family and I enjoyed a complimentary stay in a Superior Room, thanks to a voucher I received from the hotel.

5 reasons to check out Vatos Urban Tacos, BGC

In the mood for a gastronomic adventure? Look no further than Vatos Urban Tacos for good food, cool vibes and a great time. Here are five reasons why you should check this place out:

One: It’s a cool place to hang out in

Located at the ground floor of Net Park Building in BGC, Vatos’ store is characterized, not by the traditionally colorful Mexican decor, but by an industrial, almost steampunk aesthetic. Bare concrete walls tastefully adorned with black and white photos and exposed pipes, lamps hanging from the ceiling giving muted light, dark wood tables and an accent wall of broken bricks on top of the bar were elements inspired by the very first Vatos outlet in Korea. These give the place a cool urban vibe that make it a great stopover after work to eat, have a few drinks and relax.

Vatos Urban Tacos, BGC

Vatos Urban Tacos, BGC

Vatos Urban Tacos, BGC

Vatos Urban Tacos, BGC

Vatos Urban Tacos, BGC

And ladies, those inverted faucets under the tabletops serve as bag hooks!

Two: It’s your intro to #KorMex

Vatos (from the Mexican slang for “men” or “dudes”) was actually born out of the desire of three Korean-American friends – Sid Kim, Kenny Park and Juweon Jonatham Kim – to offer a new type of dining experience in the Asian market. Having grown up in areas of the US where they have access to authentic Mexican dishes, while being fed a steady diet of homemade Korean food by their moms, they came to mix and match the cuisines. These experimentations resulted to exciting new dishes, especially for adventurous seekers of spicy food. These include:

Kimchi Carnitas Fries (Php350). A hearty serving of seasoned French fries, braised pork carnitas, melted cheese and sauteed kimchi topped with chopped cilantro and onions, sour cream and Vatos signature hot sauce.

Vatos Urban Tacos, BGC

Honey Tequila Chicken Wings (Php490). Can something so good be hot and sweet at the same time? Apparently yes, with these meaty chicken wings coated with a sweet and spicy honey tequila sauce and served with deep-fried battered jalapenos and bleu cheese dipping sauce.

Vatos Urban Tacos, BGC

Vatos Cowboy Queso (Php390). For a rich savory taste of the Wild West, dip a crunchy had-cut corn tortilla into this molten dip of cheddar and pepper jack cheeses, black beans, pico de gallo and cilantro lime crema. You’ll surely be coming back for more.

Vatos Urban Tacos, BGC

The Fat Bastard Burrito Bowl (Php560). A filling bowl of Mexican rice and black beans combined with tender bits of carne asada steak, pork barbacoa and grilled fajita vegetables, with fresh Mexican flavors from cilantro onion, cilantro lime crema, fresh guacamole, chipotle salsa and Vatos hot sauce.

Vatos Urban Tacos, BGC

Grilled Chicken Fajita Platter (Php850). Grilled chicken thigh and fajita veggies served on a sizzling hot plate along with Mexican rice, pico de gallo, chimichurri, cilantro lime crema, Vatos hot sauce and warm flour tortillas.

Vatos Urban Tacos, BGC

Korean Pork Belly Taco (Php290 for 2 pieces | Php430 for 3 pieces | Php600 for platter). One of the resto’s much-vaunted urban taco options, this platter, this features pork belly marinated in Korean soy paste, ssamjang aioli, sliced fresh and pickled onions.

Vatos Urban Tacos, BGC

Chimichurri Chicken Taco (Php259 for 2 pieces | Php370 for 3 pieces | Php600 for platter). Spicy chicken flakes topped with a sweet and tangy chimichurri salsa, lettuce, sour cream and Mexican cheese.

Vatos Urban Tacos, BGC

Baja Fish Taco (Php280 for 2 pieces | Php410 for 3 pieces | Php600 for platter). White fish coated with tempura beer batter served with spicy chipotle mayo, pico de gallo and apple coleslaw.

Vatos Urban Tacos, BGC

Three: Why would you go through life without taking a sip of Vatos’ crazy margaritas?

Margeritas are tequila and citrus-based cocktails which serves as refreshing drinks and worthy foils to spicy Mexican dishes. Vatos’ ‘ritas have a nice variety that you can choose one that suits your craving or mood.

The sweetest among Vatos’ margarita offerings is the Sexy Sanchez (Php480), a fruity strawberry margarita served with an upended bottle of Magners Berry Cider.

Grow-a-Pear (Php480), on the other hand, is less sweet though no less fruity being made of passion fruit margarita accompanied by an upended bottle of Magners Pear Cider.

Vatos Urban Tacos, BGC

If the ‘ritas are not your cup of tea (more like alcohol of choice!), how about another shot of #KorMex fusion with the Makgeolitas (Php320)? Tequila meets Korean rice-based alcohol resulting to a sweet and tangy concoction that packs a wallop.

Vatos Urban Tacos, BGC

Four: There’s something for your sweet tooth too!

With all the fresh citrusy and rich earthy flavors, generously infused with a spicy kick stemming from Vatos’ Korean and Mexican roots, capping your meal with a decadent dessert can be quite an indulgence.

Take the Nutella Nachos (Php225), for example. Cinnamon powder and sugar dust crispy tortilla triangles drizzled with hazelnut Nutella sauce. Topped with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream, each mouthful is an explosion of sweetness.

Vatos Urban Tacos, BGC

A new addition to Vatos’ menu, the Bacon Jalapeno Brownie (Php180) is an interesting study of contrasts. Sweetness from the chocolate and candied walnuts, savory from the crispy bacon bits, and spiciness from the jalapeno that was included in the mix for some reason. One bite and I just want to delve into its mysteries, unravel its complexities and discover what makes it tick. Long story short, yeah, I liked it. (Thank you, Captain Obvious!)

Vatos Urban Tacos, BGC

Five: It has special treats in store for you as it turns a year old this February.

When you visit Vatos as it celebrates its first anniversary, you’re definitely in for a treat!

Feel like crooning out your signature song while accompanied by an acoustic guitar? Make sure you’re at Vatos on February 1 (Fri), 7pm for its Open Mic Acoustic Night with Dindo and Ryan.

And for all you 80s and 90s kids out there who can’t get enough of the past decades’ great tunes, DJ Erwin Paz will be there on February 2 (Sat), 8pm to play the sounds you’ve been missing.

And, on those days, you will discover that your Php100 bill can get you very far: you can either get a huge glass of margarita, or a pair of scrumptious tacos.

Vatos is a welcome new foodie discovery in itself but with its imaginative fusion menu and anniversary activities, it can become a new favorite.

Vatos Urban Tacos is located at Net Park Building, 5th AvenuelBonifacio Global City, Taguig. For inquiries, call +63 2 4597009 or +63 967 2464781. More information on its dishes and drinks are available at www.vatosph.com.

Vatos Urban Tacos Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclosure: Together with other food bloggers, I was invited to attend a foodie meetup held in this restaurant. Food items mentioned here were served to allow us to sample the fare and were not paid for by the attendees, including myself.

Hidden gem of Italian Cuisine: Cucina di Francesco, Libis

When you think about food places in the Libis area, chances are this Italian restaurant hidden away from the busier sections of the metro has escaped your notice.

Cucina di Francesco got its name from the name Francesco Forgione, the name that Saint Pio of Petrelcina, more affectionately known to devotees as Padre Pio, was born with.

Incidentally, the restaurant is located in the same compound as St. Pio Chapel, so I would imagine families fresh from Sunday mass coming in for lunch.

In this instance, however, I took my fam here on the way to our weekend staycation.

From outside, the restaurant presents a comfortable, homey and welcoming facade.

Cucina di Francisco, Libis

Cucina di Francisco, Libis

Inside, the place is bright and cheery, with large windows letting in lots of natural light and large hand-painted murals giving the premises an eclectic vibe. There are more seats to dine in on the second floor, while the third floor is mainly used for events.

Cucina di Francisco, Libis

Cucina di Francisco, Libis

Cucina di Francisco, Libis

Cucina di Francisco, Libis

Cucina di Francisco, Libis

Cucina di Francisco, Libis

Cucina di Francisco, Libis

I booked our table the night before via Zomato. We were a few minutes late but I called the resto to apprise them of our arrival time so our table was waiting for us when we arrived.

Cucina di Francisco, Libis

My daughter #ExhibitA, who’s trying to eat healthy, requested for a salad so we ordered a Ceasar Salad (Php180). The focaccia croutons, fresh microgreens and rough-chopped walnuts delectably add to the taste and texture of this classic dish.

Cucina di Francisco, Libis

Our little boy #ExhibitB, on the other hand, is a well-known pizza monster. We got him a Tre Formaggi (Php350) whose lethal combination of bleu cheese, emmenthal and mozzarella on top of creamy bechamel got my baby reaching for slice after slice.

Cucina di Francisco, Libis

Hubby got himself a Pasta Puttanesca (Php195). The sauce made from olives, anchovids and capers in fresh tomato sauce makes this a tasty pasta dish. (Hubby liked it well enough but insists that his mom’s version tastes better.)

Cucina di Francisco, Libis

We split orders of Lasagna al Forno (Php260), a meaty baked lasagna with bechamel cheese sauce (which I found a bit dry) and Italian Beef Stew (Php485), a dish made of beef chunks, Italian sausage and vegetables braised in tomato wine sauce and served with parsley rice.

Cucina di Francisco, Libis

Cucina di Francisco, Libis

All in all, I wouldn’t mind another visit to Cucina di Francisco and checking out more of its Italian viands. The place certainly is charming and even has free WiFi! Plus, the wait staff are also friendly and accommodating.

It’s quite near my home and is easily accessible. Since it is a free-standing resto that shares a sizeable multi-level parking lot with the church, I wouldn’t have to stress myself in looking for a parking space as opposed to the likely scenario if I were to visit a mall-based eatery during mealtimes.

Cucina di Francisco, Libis

It also employs persons with disability, such as those in the autism spectrum. This is an advocacy near and dear to my heart, being a parent to a child with special needs myself.

For those who are artistically inclined, Cucina di Francesco also serves as a venue for art and crafts workshops on weekends in partnership with Maartsy such as Plush Keychain Making and Acrylic Flower Jewelry Making in January 26 and Mandala Coffee Painting and Doodle Art with Lettering on January 27. For inquiries, call +63 2 9175861785.

Cucina di Francisco is located at RER Compound (St. Pio Chapel), 188 E. Rodriguez Jr. Avenue, Bagumbayan, Libis, Quezon City, open daily Tuesdays to Thursdays from 8am to 8pm and Fridays to Sundays from 8am to 9pm. For reservations, call +63 2 5349935 or book your table via Zomato like I did. 🙂

Cucina di Francesco Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Here’s some trivia for you: Did you know that puttanesca translates to “in the style of a whore” in Italian? While some food pundits would attribute the name to seedier origins, some food historians date the sauce back to the 1950s when Sandro Penti of Rancio Fellona were requested by hungry late-night patrons to “Facci una puttanata qualisiasi” or “Throw together whatever.” Which was what the good Penti did with what he had at the time: tomatoes, olives and capers. The rest is history. More on that here.

Check out my reviews of other Italian restaurants:

Barkada Bundle of Filipino Food at Joliant, Tomas Morato

It’s the last work day of the week. By midday, my office friends and I are already looking for some respite… and maybe a little bit of comfort.

Thus, by lunchtime, we disappeared to one of the Filipino eateries along Tomas Morato; Joliant Restaurant.

I was initially attracted to the store’s very affordable pricing. (Imagine rice toppings served with iced tea for as low as Php69!)

However, by the time our group of five hungry coworkers entered the restaurant’s spacious and well-appointed premises, we found ourselves going for one of its Barkada Bundles. These are combinations of several classic Filipino dishes served with rice and iced tea enough for a group of five to eight people, packaged into affordable deals.

Joliant, Tomas Morato

Joliant, Tomas Morato

Joliant, Tomas Morato

Joliant, Tomas Morato

Joliant, Tomas Morato

Also, since the dishes included in the bundle are already curated, we didn’t need to expend effort trying to figure out the combinations of tastes when we give our order.

Our group ordered the Barkada Bundle Meal D (Php1,299) which includes:

Kare Kare. A rich stew of tender oxtripe, green beans and eggplant in a peanut-thickened sauce and best enjoyed with white rice and bagoong (sauteed shrimp paste). While this version is pretty good, it does not compare to my mom’s kare kare. But then again, no other kare kare does either.

Joliant, Tomas Morato

Lechon Kawali. Another favorite dish which consist of pre-seasoned and pre-boiled pork belly deep-dried to attain a golden brown color and crispy, crunchy skin. Together with the lechon sauce and a bit of white rice, it’s an explosion of flavor with every bite.

Joliant, Tomas Morato

Buttered Chicken. Our group eschewed Joliant’s specialty Spicy Garlic Chicken in favor of this dish. Lightly battered and served with its own gravy, the chicken is tender, juicy and complemented the other inclusions of our meal bundle.

Joliant, Tomas Morato

Sinigang na Salmon Belly. When we smelled the aroma of this down-home dish wafting towards us as it was being served, it was truly mouth-watering. I loved its steaming-hot, sour broth!

https://flic.kr/p/2ehvAgz

Buko Pandan. A dessert made of pandan-flavored gelatin tossed with grated coconut in a sweet cream. A fitting end to our group’s Filipino meal.

Joliant, Tomas Morato

Joliant does live up to its promise of serving delicious Filipino comfort food in big portions at affordable prices.

Joliant, Tomas Morato

The service crew was also prompt to serve our orders and facilitate our requests.

Check it out if you’re in the area.

Joliant Restaurant is located af 227 Tomas Morato Avenue Corner Scout Limbaga Street, Laging Handa, Quezon City, open daily from 10am to 1pm. For inquiries, call +63 2 8809812.

Other branches are located at:

  • 155 Doña Soledad Avenue, Don Bosco, Parañaque City (Tel No: +63 2 8014427)
  • 131-C Armstrong Avenue, Moonwalk, Parañaque City (Tel No: +63 2 8229443)
  • 602 Boni Avenue, Plainview, Mandaluyong City (Tel No: +63 2 6370125)
  • 39 Presidents Avenue, Corner Virginia Street, BF Homes, Parañaque City

No time to visit the resto or want to enjoy Joliant’s Filipino dishes at home? If you live in the vicinity of a Joliant branch, you’ll be happy to know that it delivers via Honestbee.

Joliant Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Check out my reviews of other Filipino restaurants:

Book and food lover’s paradise: Tweedle Book Cafe, Tomas Morato

A bookworm and a foodie, that’s me.

The bookworm in me allows me to be happily content practically anywhere, and even all by my lonesome, so long as I have a new or my favorite tome in hand.

The foodie in me, on the other hand, gets me seeking new gastronomic experiences in both new and familiar places, often with close friends, because sometimes, breaking bread is more fun when you have people to break it with!

Imagine my delight when I discover establishments that cater to both passions!

Such is Tweedle Book Cafe, a small eatery located in a more out-of-the-way section of the foodie-friendly Tomas Morato vicinity.

Named after the zany twin characters Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Tweedle Book Cafe is like stepping into your dream library: the kind where you can chill and lose yourself in the pages of your favorite book while sipping on some rich hot chocolate.

Aside from the wall-to-wall shelves of books, the place is filled with references to literary works: from planks of wood citing famius authors, to clocks showing purported time in fictional settings and to a secret door masked by Platform 9 3/4.

Tweedle Book Cafe, Tomas Morato

Tweedle Book Cafe, Tomas Morato

Tweedle Book Cafe, Tomas Morato

Tweedle Book Cafe, Tomas Morato

Tweedle Book Cafe, Tomas Morato

Tweedle Book Cafe, Tomas Morato

Tweedle Book Cafe, Tomas Morato

What makes the place even more appealing is its imaginative menu which a couple of my friends and I sampled when we went here on a lunch adventure.

Cheeseburgerballs Pasta (Php230). Just think: if you can have your favorite meaty burger, loaded with so much cheese, but in a bowl nestled in pasta and tomato sauce. Sounds good?

Tweedle Book Cafe, Tomas Morato

Hangover (Php280). Ever had case of the munchies the morning after a night out drinking with friends? This rice bowl with beef sukiyaki, kimchi and egg has a whole lot of comforting heartiness and a bit of spice to kickstart your morning.

Tweedle Book Cafe, Tomas Morato

Juan Tamad (Php180). This is named so because this dish of corned beef and spam cubes in fried rice is so easy to make that you would have to be really, really lazy to still go out and order it (which I was, and no regrets here!).

Tweedle Book Cafe, Tomas Morato

Choco Lava Cake (Php120). Served piping hot, this chocolate cake with a molten chocolate center that oozes out with each spoonful.

Tweedle Book Cafe, Tomas Morato

These lovely dishes took some time getting to our table but fortunately, they were worth the wait. Also, our group was able to entertain ourselves chatting (and poring over Anne Rice’s books in my case).

Tweedle Book Cafe, Tomas Morato

Tweedle Book Cafe, Tomas Morato

Tweedle Book Cafe, Tomas Morato

On my next visit, I’ll try items from Tweedle Book Cafe’s Chocolate drinks and Tweedled coffees.

Book lover or not, this foodie haven is worth checking out!

By the way, since two of us unlocked our Zomato Gold privilege at this cafe, we got Hangover and the Chocolate Lava Cake for free!

Tweedle Book Cafe is located at 106-B Scout Gandia Street, Sacred Heart, Quezon City, open weekdays from noon to midnight, Saturdays from 10.30am to midnight and Sundays from 3pm to 10pm.

Tweedle Book Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Want to score a similar discount? Zomato Gold provides members with 1+1 deals on food or 2+2 deals on drinks. All you have to do is sign up for a Zomato Gold membership here as soon as slots open. (They tend to get snatched up pretty quickly so be sure to sign up as soon as slots become available.) Use my code JELLYB to get 20% off the membership fee.