Re-opened recently, guests and patrons of La Piazza can now savor a delightful Italian dining experience every Friday to Sunday from 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. The spruced up menu, featuring a combination of elevated Italian staples from appetizers to flavorful main courses and to the all-time classic dishes, offers a gastronomic journey for discerning palates.
La Piazza’s two main dining areas cater to diners’ preferences. The dimly lit Trattoria, a more relaxed and casual setting accentuated with high tables, barrels, and bar, gives a stimulating ambience with a welcome feel of nightlife. A few steps on the left is the Ristorante, a finely designed main dining area adorned with stunning Swarovski crystal chandeliers hanging on a Gothic ceiling. The posh ambience is complemented by lavish designed interiors that suggest an intimate setting for a romantic date. For gathering with friends and family, there are private dining areas with three function rooms that can fit ten people each and up to 22 guests if combined.
The artisanal serving plates alone took our attention away from the prepared menu for some seconds. It read Versace as we turned it over and I concluded this would be the beginning of one great dining story to tell.
For appetizers, sourdough bread was served soft and warm with virgin olive oil and a touch of reduced balsamic that had more of a subtle sweetness than acidic. It came with pizza topped with Crudo Stracciatella e Rucola pizza with parma ham, parmigiano cheese, stracciatella, and arugula. We allowed ourselves just a slice of pizza each to prepare for the grand dishes that will follow.
Next to be served was Salumi e formaggi, a charcuterie board full of prosciutto, coppa ham, mortadella, fontina, parmiggiano, soft goat cheese, then we were on our way to this anticipated culinary journey of Italy.
While waiting for the next dish, music becomes part of our journey, as we all know that music plays a part of what makes your dishes taste more delectable. We were entranced by the music of Italian tenor, Luciano Pavarotti, a powerful cue that interprets class in dining.
And having said that, a feast to our eyes was the colorful dancing fountain outside, being played every hour. You won’t realize how many times you have missed the complete run as you finish the course.
In between 15 minutes of munching through the appetizers, we began having a pleasant conversation with our server Assistant Manager Michael Barrozo, who made his career in cruise ships. His positive attitude and demeanor sets the tone in La Piazza and impacts most diners to come out happy and satisfied.
We had the confidence to go with his wines suggestion and we were not disappointed. Okada serves an interesting variety of wines and cocktails to complement each meal. Drawing attention from wine connoisseurs is La Piazza’s collection of the most premium and sought-after wines. Each bottle is carefully selected, preserved, and displayed at the restaurant’s exclusive wine cellar, but that’s another story.
Excusing himself, however, Michael had to leave to bring along two pasta dishes.
Mine was Strozzapreti con salsiccia e nduja pasta with Italian sausage, nduja (pork sausage), parmesan, and bell peppers.
Michael related tales that would relate that strozzapreti pasta was made to be twisted in shape so that “gluttonous priests will gobble it down and choke to death”. Delicious as it was, we were careful of gorging on this one.
Divine’s dish Ravioli al pesto rosso, a plate of cheese ravioli filled with stracchino milk cheese, topped with sundried pesto, and garnished with walnut and arugula. The ingredients alone define its flavorful taste.
As there are components in presenting the mains to have an appealing aesthetic, Michael showed us the art of serving the star-of-the-plate, flawlessly describing each detail.
Costata de Manzo, a rib-eye wagyu steak done medium with sweet potato mash, oven-baked vegetables, and red wine jus (meat juice derived from a roast). The two compound butters (garlic herb and red wine) intensified the flavors of the dish.Spigola al cartoccio, a Chilean sea bass with braised peppers and leeks, potato fondant, baby carrots, and played up with fish veloute (sauce made from the drippings of simmered fish with herbs).
My personal choice, not because I am watching my meat intake during dinner, but because the fish was oven-baked wrapped in parchment paper that sealed all its freshness with the herbs and vegetables combined. Michael did the staging of unwrapping the dish up to the plating while describing the veloute sauce he poured over the dish. That was the coup de grace for me. Definitely a dish to come back to!The third dish was the Carre di Maiale, a grilled Iberico pork chop set on pureed green pea and red wine reduction sauce with some garnishing of asparagus tips, baby carrots and mashed potato for added texture.
Most of us are familiar with that delectable, expensive Iberico ham from Spain. It is the ham made from Iberian pigs fed mostly acorns that give its meat that distinct nutty flavor. We were served the chop because the menu offers a whole grilled rack. We had the honor of being the first guests to savor it, and savor we did.
The only time I leaned back on my chair was during coffee time, waiting for a sweet respite. I told Michael it got kinda cold, and voila, he comes with an Aztec printed woolen shawl to drape upon my shoulders, I felt pampered!Desserts were sweet sensation of a diplomatico, a puff pastry, sponge cake with salted caramel chantilly cream, and chamomile ice cream, followed by a surprisingly innovative Raviolo fritto (fried ravioli) with kesong puti, forest honey, and olive oil ice cream on the side.
What an experience — ambience, the diversity of fine food in luxurious plates and cutlery, good wine in crystal glasses, Pavarotti music, top-class service. La Piazza is spelled R-O-M-A-N-C-E!