Jhann and I finally tried eating at Bellini's and it's one of the nicest experiences I've had this year.
Bellini's is located (or rather, hidden) at the Marikina Shoe Expo, Cubao.
I've always been curious with this restaurant. When I was in high school, I used to buy my school shoes at the Marikina Shoe Expo. I've always known that an out of the way restaurant was there but I never had the urge to try it out until I saw an episode of UNTV's Strangebrew where Tado and Erning got to try out authentic italian cuisine at Bellini's. It took me 4 years to get around and actually try it.
We arrived at the restaurant at around 730 pm and saw a good number of diners, mostly families or lovers. The interiors are definitely will give you the feel of Old Italy with its big, red tile floors, white walls, ceiling murals (an attempt at ceiling frescos) and beams from which decorative imitations of ham, sausages and grapevines hang. The soft yellow lights gave the place a cozier, more romantic feel. Our waiter led us to a corner table for two beside their wine collection. The restaurant's owner, the famous Roberto Bellini personally greeted us as we sat down and made sure that we were comfortable.
Bellini's has a fairly extensive menu of pasta, pizza, meat, fish and desserts. Before we went, I did the honors of researching on the internet on the must-try's of Bellini's so ordering was quite easy. We settled on Salmon for appetizers, Osso Buco Steak, Spinach Ravioli and Funghi Spaghetti for our main course. For drinks we ordered Mango Shake for Jhann and the house sweet wine for myself.
The appetizer is actually a slice of smoked salmon and cheese on crostini. It's just a simple dish that went so well with the sweet wine. The strong flavor of the salmon balances out the sweetness of the wine. The cheese was mild enough noy to overpower the salmon yet gives bit of bite. For a mere P140, Jhann and I had 2 pieces each.
For the main course:
It's too bad that they don't have truffle cream that night so they instead put cream sauce on the spinach-ham ravioli. But it still tasted really really good. The ravioli filling was a slush of, well, spinach and ham and I'm guessing a bit of parmeasan cheese. I could only imagine what would it taste like with its original sauce.
We made the "mistake" of choosing the spaghetti noodle to go with the mushroom sauce. When it made its way on our table, it looked rather unappetizing because of its pale color with white noodles, slightly runny white sauce and slices of mushroom. The taste made up for its appearance. I was so pleased that even if the ravioli and funghi both had white sauces, their taste were significantly different. While the ravioli had the standard Alfredo sauce, Funghi has a mildly flavored sauce, delicately tasting like onions thus highlighting the flavor of the mushrooms.
Osso Buco is just like the "Bulalo!" as Mr. Bellini would say (with gusto!) but cooked in tomato sauce. My boyfriend woul describe it like a cross of caldereta and bulalo. In the menu it is described as Bone Marrow Steak. To me it reads 1 million calories and cholesterol. Not bad for P230 pesos. I you're a hearty eater, this may be a bit bitin but for us, pasta can make us feel full fast so we had this almost like a side dish. We need some protein in our carbohydrate laden meal. ;)
By the end of the main course we were feeling full but just to end the wonderful meal, we decided to order a serving of Panna Cotta. The creamy flan was served in the middle of a pool of coffee liquer. It was to die for! We LOVE LOVE LOVE the Panna Cotta! It was not overly sweet, almost just the natural sweetness of milk. Go to Bellini's if only to taste this!
We stayed for a little after our meal. We took pictures of the interiors and a few goofy pictures of ourselves in the restaurant. I wanted to have my picturetaken with Mr. Bellini but Jhann was dyahe since Mr. Bellini looked rather busy entertaining all his guests. He was after all, a hands on owner. We stayed to listen to the resident acoustic singer/guitarist. A Bellini daughter graced the customers a few songs some of which are Italian adding even more to the ambiance.
I fell in love with this place. I defenitely want to go back. For just P1,023 for the dinner for two plus the romantic ambiance, it's a bang for the buck.