An unassuming establishment at the ground floor of Exchange Regency Residence Hotel in Ortigas. Benassi Alimento E Caffe is easy to miss once you make a turn to the inner Jade road from Exchange Road in Ortigas. However, those who spot this humble dining space is in for a treat. Benassi is a family-run restaurant. Filipino-Italian owner Katia Benassi was born and raised in Italy and brought their beloved home-cooked Italian favorites in Manila.
Jen: The restaurant is small and laid-back, quiet and casually intimate. It can quite easily pass for someone’s upscale dining area, and the lively groups of diners we chanced upon on our visit provided a nice steady stream of conversations set against the background of Italian music. Overall, I found the evening crowd and setup pleasantly unhurried.
Ironwulf: The interior is warm and simple, classy but nothing fancy. Katia was truly hands-on in the restaurant assisting her staff. Music was delightful and unobtrusive. It’s one of those places where conversations can go a long way over excellent food.
Jen: We were served 2 kinds of ravioli, the Ravioli Con Spinaci in red sauce and the Ravioli Con Funghi Porcini in cream cheese. Having always been partial with tomato, I was surprised that I actually liked the latter one better. The cream cheese sauce was smooth and flavorful without being overwhelming. For those who want to incorporate greens in their meal, however, the spinach ravioli (red sauce), would be a good bet.
Ironwulf: The six pieces of ravioli on each plate look rather ordinary. I tried the Ravioli Con Spinaci with its green spinach-stuffed pillows and enjoyed the contrasting tanginess from the tomato sauce and the pleasant richness from the filling. The Ravioli Con Finghi Porcini was a surprise though. I was expecting a somewhat subdued flavor from its cream sauce but the strong earthly flavor from the mushroom was bursting with distinct flavor while it rides the fluidness of the ricotta cheese. It was so good it became an instant favorite.
Jen: I’m always game to try seafood risotto because, well, I love seafood. The restaurant’s version of this classic Italian rice dish was hearty and consistent, and although it turned out a bit on the salty side — at least on our plate — it nevertheless spoke of flavor and substance that I usually look for in a risotto.
Ironwulf: The Risotto Ai Frutti Di Mare was a bit on the salty side and Katia admits that the one on our table was a tad salty than the usual. But the rich seafood flavor in the after taste was there.
Jen: The ham and cheese Pizza Prosciutto E Rucola, topped with arugula, made it to one of my favorite items in the meal. It was simple and straight-forward, so casually inviting that Ferdz and I eventually decided to forego knife and fork in favor of using our hands. And there was nothing unnecessarily complicated about it; the pizza seemed like something one can enjoy either alone or with company, whether as a way to quickly stave off hunger, or part of a main meal.
Ironwulf: The pizza has only three toppings, which Katia said was how they usually prepare in Italy, and it made sense as the flavor was clean and unadulterated without feeling too greasy and heavy. The thin crust was also good. For a little kick of spiciness, I added a few drops of their chilli oil.
Benassi Alimento E Caffe
G/F The Exchange Regency, Meralco Ave., cor. Exchange Rd., Ortigas Center
Opens Monday to Friday from 7:00am to 10:00pm . Saturdays from 11:30am to 2:30pm and 6:00pm to 10:30pm.
Delivery (Within Ortigas area only) 09176203932