80 Calbayog corner Malinao St
Telephone Number: (02) 534-4633
10am to 11pm
I am always a woman of intense preparation …with the Murphy’s Law in mind: “It is an experience common to all men to find that, on any special occasion, such as the production of a magical effect for the first time in public, everything that can go wrong will go wrong. Whether we must attribute this to the malignity of matter or to the total depravity of inanimate things, whether the exciting cause is hurry, worry, or what not, the fact remains.” … but this time I failed big time. No camera, no research and with nothing else but my stiletto and my long love affair with Italy on. Yes, I am capable of maintaining long affairs … and no one ever said, “I’d go and leave you”. They are like the air up there – can’t see but you know it is there and more importantly … gives you life, provides solace and listens to the overly repetitive story of my life. These moments never ceases to amaze me.
What do I know about Galileo Enoteca? I have seen it in a cheesy movie shot in Greece (my dream destination as well) “For the First Time”. Yes, folks, I’ve seen it in Cinema One. That was it! Hardly Italian and nothing bourgeois about it. But in my heart, I know that somewhere between my nerves, my unpreparedness and my lack of adjectives for the place … I am in for a pleasant surprise.
So between my severe need to pee, impatience for waiting, no left turns, confusion over the directions and unavailability of parking, I have arrived. Was it too dark outside? Am I too dazed? … But when I saw the 1st brick and the arched wooden door with glass … I knew this is going to be worth the wait like so many things in my life.
So between the question and the statement: where is the comfort room and oohh this is also a deli just like Santis … I hurried to the most comforting place in the restaurant and answered the call of Mother Nature. Upon emerging from the one of the most satisfying gratification of need that night, I finally heard the music, nothing that I can understand but probably, Italian because of the fusion of symphonic music and opera … eclectic even. It is one of the listening pleasures that bring me to the rolling vineyards and the home of the 400 varieties of cheese in the world. It is falling in love without even knowing what you are hearing. My steps led me to things that I love to be surrounded with … wine, cheese, deli, pasta, tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, anchovies and more. It was cornucopia of pleasure-eliciting feast for the eyes.
Interior is very cosy. Walls are full of Italian vignettes framed in wood. Everything else is rich in colour and texture. The place reminds of caverns – one surprise after another chamber – or wine cellars with rows and rows of wine bottles. The ceiling is low and bricks are incorporated with various tones of wood. Very Etruscan.
At the far end of the wall, there stood Venus by Sandro Boticelli in cool blue lighting. This is one of my most unforgettable images in my Art Appreciation class. This is found in Florence. Officially called, the Birth of Venus, this painting depicts her birth and she emerged from the sea as a full grown woman in a sea shell. Venus is an ideal Italian Renaissance: blonde, pale skinned and voluptuous. This is a fantasy image. The body is anatomically improbable and the pose is impossible. This is highly sexual as well with all the nude nymphs and the sea shell is a metaphor for the woman’s vulva. What a painting to start the night!
The place opened for public is divided into 3 alcoves with arches which are reminiscent of Italian Architecture. The 1st one is the deli, the second leads to another dining area and the last one where Venus is also a dining area which I think can be reserved for small pocket groups or focused group discussions.
The tables are made of hard wood with wooden benches which could be uncomfortable for your rump. This reminded me of the German Oktoberfest as well. The spot picked was in the corner with rows of wine and pasta in the shelves and another comfort room with again another arched entrance. The lights are dimmed, music soft, servers discreet and voila! – it is a perfect romantic hideaway if you are dating someone who lives and breathes Italia! It is out of the pages of a Casanova Book of Charms.
This place is too confined that you have to keep your voice low or the other table can butt in and express their opinion of your conversation as well. This is big effort on my part and I had to be reminded. But as the night ticked away and the 8% alcohol content of the wine blend to your system … the reserves fall off the bough, would I tell someone to keep it low? I guess not, it is about having fun anyway. If they are listening – come join the fun. Drinking wine is about softening the tensed nerves, drowning the inhibitions and later on a reason to deny something you have done or said. The beer does this to me, but not this particular wine. It is red and sweet – the house wine for Php 600 per bottle. Order one if you must or two if you can. The aforementioned is just a very little representation of their vast collection of wine – from the cheapest to the most expensive ones. I saw Merlot at Php 700, Pinot Noir which my personal choice, I failed to take note of.
The “free” bread which is staple in any upscale Italian Restaurant arrived which reminded me of small loaf of bread served in our homes with a kind of bitterness that I can’t place. I’m into giving chances when it comes to food – not all that your eyes can see can be equated with taste. But this time, my eyes met my palate. There is something odd about a bread without a crunch especially so when eaten with pasta. But then again, they might be just shying away from the typical foccacia or chibata. I’m into the crunch in my bread so anything less than that, I don’t enjoy much. The dips served were EVOO (infused with rosemary) with balsamic vinegar and a wonderfully creamy liver pate. This pate was my star for the night. Anything that you asked for, they have – chili flakes, chili oil, chili sauce, parmesan, salt, pepper, etc. The chili flakes is true to its name unlike some chili flakes in other restaurants. Even the chili sauce looked in-house prepared. This also gave the kick that one looks for in a chili. Yes, baby, some like it hot!
Then came the Tutti Fruitti de Mare Pasta which was dubbed as the best seller according to the server. This is a red sauce pasta with carrots, celery, wine vinegar, parsley, lemon juice, mixed seafood (shrimp, clams, mussels, and scallops). This can also be served with crab meat and lobster. This is good. It is rich in flavour and the pasta is al dente. This is a small serving though but can be practically shared by two if you are ordering other dishes.
I am biased with pizza and my basis for a very good pizza is its Margherita and the dough. The dough is the foundation of a good pizza. The whole thing crashes when it is not good. Margherita in this joint isn’t the best there is. The banner pizza of the Queen should be at its finest especially in Italian Restaurants.
I’ve yet to taste other dishes in the menu list … people are raving about the cheese platter and the deli. I will find this out. I am also wondering if the Limoncello is any good. This is the Italian Lemon liqueur produced in the South of France. This can be made easily in the confines of your home. My recipe for this is found in my Don Limone blog https://tripsandthecity.wordpress.com/2012/03/27/don-limone-il-mio-piccolo-paradiso-italiano-my-little-italian-paradise/
My very long journey of the palate has been extensive but you know what the truth is? No matter how bland or tasteful the food is – the company brings it to new heights. It can be intensified or give a new twist in a menu’s story or you’d rather walk out the door even if the Master Chef prepared it. The intermingling of the spices in one’s mouth can altogether create a novel taste. Maybe because your heart is beating faster, wits are too bored, your nerves are restless and the butterflies in the tummy are doing somersaults. Just like the body chemistry. There are bodies that were meant to be of a certain temperature that only the two of them can understand and share. I once read that we are attracted to a certain smell of a person. That makes it odd, that makes loving something or someone magical. It was the It Factor – something that you don’t understand but is there. Even meeting someone is celestial – written in the stars. Of the billions of people in the world, how on earth can you both collide and meet. I’d die without knowing that.
There is so much joy when one person takes an effort in making someone happy like cooking for someone or taking time to go out. In one’s life filled with ennui and stress, this is a welcome thought and this is bringing back the sun in your smile. There was so much in life that we lost due to the thought that they are not worth to be a part of it – only to find out that you will never find another one like that. Like ghosts, they continue to haunt us. These are parts of your life that you will die taking with you. It made you whole. It made you what you are now. It sets your feet on the ground and makes you remember moments that age has stolen.
I am writing this and I am very close to fulfilling a dream – yet I’m too confused if I would grab this and let go. When I said two nights ago that I want to let go of everything, do what my heart desires and live my passion, God must have been listening and maybe the universe bounced back what I said. Faced with this reality, I will again rely on the signs that the stars would give me. Choices … what is in the menu for the day?
PS: I regret deeply that I haven’t done justice to the must-haves of this place. I would have wanted to meet Vanessa, my namesake, – the manager and the daughter of Gaetano Vitrano – have I got my facts straight? I should have brought my camera.