A-Men for A Mano
A well-made Aperol Spritz to whet the appetite for recipes rooted in antiquity…a nice bottle of Veneto’s Bisol Cartizze leisurely imbibed al fresco with friends as the sun sets…these vignettes utterly capture the spirit of Amado Forés’ envisioned Italian concept.
Too chic to be fussy, the space is not obviously Italian but it’s clear by the pizza oven and old-school espresso machine as well as a well-placed design element here and there that the Italophile in Forés shines through. For instance, the mirror design on the walls is based on Vespa mirrors.
“The concept is based on Italian classics [inspired] by my travels through Italy—one trip was when I was seven, and the most recent, two years ago,” shares Forés.
A quick skim through the menu leads one to decide a pizza and a pasta aside are must-tries but the one item that flags most scanning eyeballs is the Florentine-style rib-eye, Bistecca a mano. Served with bucce di patate potato skins and gourmet salt, the platter is impressive (good for three to four people) as it emerges from the bustling kitchen counter. The recommended sip to highlight the flavourful meat and simple seasoning is a Toscana offering, the Villa Antinori Riserva Chianti Classico.
Forés stuck to the Old World with only Italian names lining his short but sweet wine list (nine reds and five whites). These span the regions of Toscana, Piemote, Puglia, Emilia Romagna and Veneto, with a handful available by the calice.
From the bianco corner, a nicely chilled Love chardonnay pinot grigio 2017 becomes the perfect companion as one enjoys Rockwell’s balmy micro-climate. Pair this with the Carbonara Pizza, a Neapolitan-style pie topped with pecorino Romano, ground black pepper, smoked pork jowl (sliced like bacon), and gooey egg yolk.
For popular and straightforward Italian antipasti, the Focaccia di Recco (flatbread filled with creamy stracchino) and the Frito Misto are the way to go—also with a glass of Love. Do not forget a squirt of fresh lemon on the Frito Misto and away you go.
Don’t feel you have to stop with just the one pie. The reds deserve some attention, too, such as the simple yet gratifying Margherita con Bufala (tomato sauce, mozzarella bufala, and extra virgin olive oil), a treat straight out of Campania. Meat lovers will want to try the Spicy Salami pie, a specialty from Abruzzo. Of course, a well-done 4 formaggi can be a game changer for many a pizza-inclined establishment, and this one doesn’t disappoint with its liberal, Lombardy-inspired use of premium mozzarella bufala, gorgonzola, emmental, Parmigiana Reggiano, and extra virgin olive oil.
Diners in search of a satisfying al dente bite are guided, as with the pizza, by the menu’s classic categorisation by region. From Lazio, the ultra-classic Cacio e Pepe, which uses De Cecco spaghetti with pecorino and fresh black pepper, is a dependable friend you want around always.
A good Vongole is quite literally hard to find in Manila and my experience was close to faultless; in traditional Campania style, Forés’ Vongole was on coastal palate point, using a healthy ratio of clams to De Cecco linguine, white wine, and garlic.
Upping the rich factor (this dish’s reputation precedes it), the tagliatelle with ragù Bolognese, and Parmigiano Reggiano sated every savoury whim with its dreamy herb-tinged aroma and tangy base sauce.
Forés’ favourite, however, (and we’re talking winning dish here, not pasta) is the Garganelli Bianco prepared with truffle butter, cream, peas and prosciutto. “It was the first fresh pasta I had in New York and it’s named after chef Michael White of Osteria Morini…I asked my mum to message him and he said yes to us naming it after him!” he happily shares.
Those, however, avoiding carbs will appreciate the Pollo al Burro or Tuscan butter chicken with rosemary.
For dessert, the Cannoli Siciliani, which comes in three versions of pistacchio, plain, and chocolate, is an excellent (and pretty!) choice for those who shy away from the overly sweet. But then again, for those not with a sweet (and tart) tooth, will adore the Lemon Tart foiled with a salty smattering of grated Parmesan.
A Mano: R1 Level, Powerplant Mall, Rockwell Center, Makati | +63.917.552.6266