Thursday, January 31, 2008

Cantinetta




Cantinetta
Location :
Block 9, Rockwell Center , Makati City
Cuisine :
Italian
Menu Price Range : Php 250.00 - Php 1,900.00
Service Charge:
10%
Rating : A-






Nestled amongst the various upscale eateries just outside the Powerplant Mall at Rockwell, Cantinetta is hard to miss. The towering structure surrounded with glass walls is simply immense, giving you a sense of the grandeur and opulence that resides within. It's not that Cantinetta is necessarily sprawling, but the glass walls and the high ceiling create the illusion of a vast space that is simply enchanting.

Once inside, you get a sense that you are feasting in a posh greenhouse. Great pains were made to make the establishment as stylish and elegant as possible, from the lush greenery just outside the glass walls to the rustic stone that stood in the back to the majestic chandeliers that hovered above. Lighting was dramatic and soothing at the same time, providing a great backdrop for a romantic banquet.

Their menu was equally extravagant, filled with an almost-unending list of original and authentic Italian dishes that ranged from the regular pastas and pizzas to the more exotic Italian steaks and authentic desserts. The staff was dressed appropriately in finery, making it almost appear as if you were dining in a five-star hotel rather than a restaurant.

A quick glance at the bar quickly confirmed the fact that they carried a vast assortment of wines and I even caught a glimpse of a food cart with a leg of parma ham and a block of cheese. It definitely had all the accouterments of a fine dining restaurant you could ask for and more.


Breads and Spreads
Price: Complimentary
Rating: B


Good staples of a fine dining establishment are the complimentary breads and spreads. In this case, they consisted of various sliced Italian breads and a choice of either liverwurst spread or diced tomatoes in olive oil.

The Italian bread slices were toasted well and served in a bread basket while the liverwurst and diced tomatoes were served in miniature saucers. I was expecting butter or margarine to be served with the two spreads and a greater variety of breads, but overall, the fare was sufficient.

Cesare (Caesar's Salad)
Price: Php 250.00
Rating: B


The Caesar Salad was served with fresh, crispy greens, and the bacon bits and parmesan cheese were flavorful without being overpowering. The caesar dressing was a bit light for my taste, but the croutons had a very strong taste - perhaps indicative of being soaked in vinegar and olive oil.

This was unusual as it conflicted with the rest of the dish. It wasn't necessarily bad, but it was a bit overpowering and distracted from the rest of the ingredients. The serving size was adequate, being able to serve one or two at the most.

Prosciutto Crudo Pizza
Price: Php 420.00
Rating: B+


An authentic Italian pizza, the Prosciutto Crudo consisted entirely of tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and parma ham. The parma ham was delectable and the mozzarella cheese was wonderful. The crust was also crisp and cooked to perfection.

The problem I had with this dish, however, was the tomato sauce which was a bit too salty and overwhelmed the dish a bit. Perhaps they were a bit too overzealous with this ingredient. Otherwise, the pizza was heavenly. The pizza was quite big, about the size the of large-sized pizza and could feed two to three people.

Lasagna all Bolongnese
Price: Php 380.00
Rating: A


Perhaps one of the best lasagna I've tasted in a while, this dish consisted of home-made pasta layers filled with a tender and meaty bolongnese sauce. Unlike the pizza, the tomatoes weren't overpowering, blending well with the rest of the dish. The ground beef was hearty and tender and prepared well, without the fatty or hard bits that often plague this dish when it's produced in lesser establishments. Smothered in bachamel sauce, it was an absolute delight.



Cannelloni Ricotta e Spinaci
Price: Php 420.00
Rating: A


I was curious how this dish would rate when compared to Amici's. Aside from the Ricotta cheese, it was basically identical to my favorite dish at Amici except for the fact that the cannelloni pasta was crisp rather than soggy, giving it a better texture. The spinach was also less dry and the bechamel sauce provided with it was a tad bit more generous.

The Ricotta cheese, however, was very faint and didn't make as much of an impact. All in all, it's a slightly better dish than the one at Amici's at a little less than three times the price.

Gelato
Price: Php 190.00 for two scoops
Rating: B


I really enjoyed their version of this dessert but, despite several testimonials, I don't believe it's better than Amici's. It's creamier and definitely sweeter and you can tell that home-made ingredients were used, but I'd give Amici a slight lead in taste. Also, they only had a few varieties to choose from: Cappuccino, Chocolate, Pistachio, and Vanilla. This limited selection and the fact that the price is actually quite high, drops the score for this desert to about a B.

Also, you are required to purchase a minimum of two scoops of gelato. Of course, the two scoops could consist of different flavors, but the portions are quite large and two scoops is definitely too much for one person to consume.




Zabaglione
Price: Php 230.00
Rating: C+


This dessert intrigued me mostly because I've never heard of it before. Also, its ingredients were exotic: whipped egg yolk with marsala wine. We felt adventurous and decided to try this dessert despite the exorbitant price, and found ourselves puzzled by the strange taste.

The Zabaglione had a similar taste to eggnog except for a much stronger liqueur flavor. It also had a very thick consistency that required a spoon to consume. Personally, I felt the liqueur taste was a bit overwhelming although I felt it might be better when combined with a pastry dish of some kind to help disperse the strong taste.






CONCLUSION

Food: Most of the ingredients used in their cuisine is top-notch and home-made, creating an authentic taste that is a simply delightful. A great deal of effort was made in the presentation down to the cutlery that accompanied each dish. All in all, Cantinetta's cuisine exuded class and elegance akin to that of the best fine dining restaurants.

Ambiance: This is where Cantinetta truly excels. Their venue appears almost palatial, with wonderful chandeliers, lush greenery, and fabulous glass windows that blended the indoors with the outdoors. The high ceilings also contributed to a feeling of opulence that cannot be achieved in cramped quarters.

It seems no expense was spared in creating a kind of urban oasis in the heart of the city, and it shows the kind of elegance and style that most eateries often overlook. The lighting is also very dramatic especially at night, creating a beautiful atmosphere for those wishing to impress a date.

Value: Of course, all this elegance comes at a price. Most of Cantinetta's dishes are quite exorbitant, with their most expensive steaks tethering on the Php 2,000.00 range. On average, however, you can expect to pay about Php 300.00 to Php 600.00 per person - not including the service charge. If you're planning to take a significant other to this place, be sure that he or she is pretty darn significant because the dent in your budget definitely will be.

Service: As you can expect from this kind of establishment, the service is top-notch. Food was delivered very promptly, and the servers were very responsive and exceedingly friendly. The owner of Cantinetta was also at hand and was personally involved in the operations - definitely a big plus. All in all, they made sure your stay was as memorable as that hole in your pocket that was once your wallet.

Overall: Cantinetta is definitely a refreshing sojourn into Italian cuisine that has all the bells and whistles of a fine dining establishment and more.

Unfortunately, this also includes the high prices. If you're in the mood for authentic Italian cuisine and price is no object, Cantinetta is definitely a very good choice, but for the rest of us, budgetary constraints might force us to look elsewhere.

© 2008 Pablo Bairan
01-31-2008

2 comments:

masked said...

Cantinetta's panna cotta is good too. It has good consistency and just about the right sweetness to cap off a great meal.

The restaurant also offers different sauces with its steak. I'd suggest the peppercorn sauce to go with it.

Carmelita said...

Hi.

Delicious blog!

Thanks very much,

Carmel