I remember passing by Reposo many years ago on the way to Saint Andrew’s Church along Kalayaan and the Makati municipio farther down the road, driving past a row of restaurants and establishments that include the familiar white structure that is Budji Layug’s shop. Fastforward to the present: the street is now called Nicanor Garcia, Budji now shares billing with Royal Pineda and there are newer shops and offices along the row but a lot of the restaurants have either moved or are now gone. One of the holdovers has a familiar name but the façade looks new to my eyes.
L’Incontro used to be housed in a wood structure with a prominent al fresco area adorned with whimsical accents. Getting an invite in the mail from L’Incontro, I stumble onto a white structure that’s undeniably more conducive to formal dining. The place has a new owner, a new look as well as a new outlook but according to Tina Pamintuan, the affable chef who took over the reins from the previous Italian owner, Gino Martinel, L’Incontro is now a decade old. In restaurant years, a decade can be more like 50 years as the increasingly fickle tastes of diners and the widening array of choices often make restaurants an “open this year, close next year” business. 10 years of staying in the business is certainly no mean feat.
Changing hands is also a defining moment for this Italian restaurant. Will the changes disappoint loyal diners? On the other hand, will keeping the all-time favorites drive away the new ones? Only a taste test can provide the clues and your Happyfoodies are only too happy to oblige.
Lagal[og] says: I can’t exactly recall my previous dining experience at L’Incontro as it was a business meal ages ago. All I can remember was the whimsical décor which is a contrast to the spacious, air conditioned dining area at present. Tina says it was inspired by an Italian farmhouse. I like the relaxed ambiance along with the minimalist furnishings and the chandelier made from intertwining tree branches.
Ironwulf says: “It’s an Italian farmhouse” Tina says. Well, if farmhouses look like this I would like to live in one. But definitely from movies I’ve seen, the visible beam supports of the high ceiling do evoke that farm house feel. At eye level, one can see the elegant furnishing complemented by the warm and soft lighting. I like the cool temperature and I must commend on the choice of music too which ranges from chill-out lounge to Dirty Vegas.
Lagal[og] says: It’s easy to get lost when you partake of a nine course menu but I must say that even if I interchanged the order of the Aperitif and Antipasto, the Crème di Squash e Burro (Squash Soup) was a good way to get started. The soup was full-bodied with a smooth texture and served with the light and sparkling Zonin Prosecco.
Ironwulf says: It was entertaining to watch how the Rissoto Flambee was done over the large Parmeggiano-Reggano Cheese wheel. It was much more a delight to taste the thick rice grains smothered with the rich cheesy flavor, a nice fruity sourness added by the sun dried tomatoes and the pleasurable mix of light minty flavor lent by a few bits of fresh sage.
Lagal[og] says: For our starters, we had the Crespella ata Funghi en Tartufo (Crepe of Funghi Porcini Mushroom), a medley of crepe with ham and cheese with a light, creamy truffle sauce. It came with the Camelot Chardonnay which really complemented the sauce as well as the light saltiness of the ham.
Ironwulf says: With a natural liking for mushroom dishes, it was easy to like the Crespella ata Funghi en Tartufo. The crepe has that soft yet light explosion of flavors I enjoyed with every bite. But for me, the Veal Chops stole the show with its tastefully grilled yet tender slices of red meat. I could distinctly taste the spices which give it flavor. It’s also worth mentioning that the potato side dish was also very good.
Lagal[og] says: For our Secondi, we had the Veal Chop served on a chopping board lavished with crispy whole potatoes. The veal was, as expected, very tender and cooked just right; the real pleasant surprise was the Contorno of herbed Rosemary potatoes which were crispy and flavorful but not oily at all. The matching red wine, Pinot Noir Estancia Monterrey County, provided a crisp counterpoint to the red meat. I almost ignored the accompanying Onion Gratin as I like eating my meat dishes sans any sauce but I was glad I tasted it as the caramelized onion was superb.
Ironwulf says: The Salmon with Mashed Potatoes was real flaky. I like the spinach flavor of the full-bodied mashed potatoes. And not to forget, its buttery creaminess.
Lagal[og] says: Full or not, we had to cap our lunch with dessert and with the Formaggio e Fruitta (Four Kinds of Cheeses and Fruits) which gave us plenty of tasty cheeses and sweet treats to choose from. I gravitated towards the White Cheesecake more than the Blanco Chocolate, Tiramisu and Panacotta, the subtle saltiness melding well with the fruit wine that was served with the dessert. I must say that all that wine this early in the day was going to my head so the espresso that came with the Amaretto-laced Affogato was really welcome.
Ironwulf says: It was pure eye candy seeing different types of desserts served on a marble slab. The Panacotta was really soft and instantly melts in your mouth. The different types of cheese also have interesting flavors from the strong sourness to the natural cheese goodness sans the sweetness. My favorite among the sweet treats was the White Chocolate Cheesecake; it has the right sweetness, flavor and texture that I really enjoyed.
207 Nicanor Garcia St., Makati City
Tel. 899.0635 • email: [email protected]