I just had a conversation with my friend Jayme Natividad, Chef of Taal Vista Hotel, that Tagaytay needs a good Italian restaurant.
Maybe my wishes resonated across the Universe because – tada! – L’Opera’s Paolo Nesi, who is not only a respected restaurateur but also a certified sommelier, has partnered with lawyer/developer Babes Oreta and opened TRATTORIA MARIO MIO in Silang, Cavite, on the way to Tagaytay.
The restaurant is located in the 20-hectare property of Atty. Babes Oreta, who developed Balesin and Tagaytay Highlands. The development is called Monteluce and now has four buildings where you can buy condos as well as an exclusive gated community of single villas called Sienna. (If you want to buy a house, I hear the going rate is now at P9 Million.)
Trattoria Mario Mio
Just near the entrance of this development is TRATTORIA MARIO MIO.
The first thing I noticed as I walked to the restaurant from the parking area right beside it is this …
… a golf cart?! Later I asked owner Atty Oreta if there was a nearby golf course. Apparently there is none; the cart is there to pick up customers who come in by CHOPPER. These customers can land at the helipad beside the lettuce garden of Mario Mio across the restaurant. I wish I had known about this so I could’ve taken my chopper and avoided traffic … (hehehe!)
The restaurant’s menu is by L’Opera’s Paolo Nesi.
L’Opera has been a reliable Italian restaurant and I do recall celebrating memorable family dinners there. (Missing my Lola Sally, who loved it and had a birthday dinner there with her friends.) And if I remember right (I do not know how I have this in my memory bank LOL), L’Opera was also in the movie of Vilma Santos and Angel Locsin entitled Everything About Her where Vilma played a powerful businesswoman who owned the world but couldn’t get through to her son and whose last wish was to be loved by him – her choice of resto for what she dreamed would be their grand reconciliation dinner was L’Opera. (Can someone tell me if I remember right? I loved that movie – watched it when my dad was battling cancer so it really resonated! Plus Angel Locsin was hilarious. And poignant. Brilliant acting from these two ladies! But I digress … )
So if you know what L’Opera food is like, well, that’s what you can expect at Mario Mio. Some of the dishes that I absolutely loved include the tomato soup, which was so beautifully textured with cheese. This tomato soup was the bomb, the kind that makes you pause and say, “Hey, this is really good!”. And the starter of tomatoes and mozzarella had such juicy tomatoes that, to my horror, when I sliced into mine, the juice spurted and its projectile motion went straight in the direction of Atty Oreta’s eye! Fortunately he just laughed it off!
I checked the menu to see what cured meat this was and saw that it was braesola. Incidentally, the first time I met Atty Babes Oreta – at the lunch hosted by then-Ambassador to the Vatican Mercy Tuazon at the Pontificio Collegio Fillipino (the school for Filipino priests in Rome) for Pinoys who attended the canonization of St. Pedro Calunsod – they also served braesola. “This is what they served at that lunch at the Colegio!” I told Atty Oreta. “How do you remember?” he asked, incredulous. “I just remember!” I said.
I remember because I absolutely loved the taste when I first tried it – at that event – that I had to ask the waiter what it was and it just stuck. Proof: here’s a throwback photo of what we ate that day in Rome, the braesola on the bottom row. I was also amazed that it is beef and not pork, unlike the usual hamon.
They also offer duck ravioli, which is apparently the owners’ favorite, doused with truffle oil. I also loved the sea bass wrapped in zucchinis; white fish is usually boring but this was just oozing with flavor. The Italians would be proud.
For dessert, we had a thick panna cotta – other panna cottas I have tried are less dense – that was given character with a brush of balsamic vinegar and truffle oil, and finely decorated with chopped walnuts. Quite a sophisticated dessert, and happily, not too sweet.
Summer being just around the corner, once I saw they had a gelato menu, I needed some! I tried the calamansi gelato, which was perfect for a hot day. (It’s been getting hot again recently, hasn’t it? Summer is coming.) Their gelatos are all “homemade” and really good.
Aside from the calamansi gelato, the restaurant also makes a mean calamansicello, their version of limoncello but using calamansi. You can enjoy it either as an apertif or as a digestif.
After a shot of calamansicello as a digestif, I finally asked, “So who is Mario?”
To which Atty Babes Oreta, looking at me incredulously as he couldn’t believe I hadn’t put it together, said, “ME !!”
Seeing me look at him in consternation (I was trying to reconcile how Mario became Babes) he said, with an Italian accent out of nowhere, “My full name is Mario Stefano Alessandro (MAH-rio Ste-FAH-no Ale-SAHN-dro!” To which his BFF Jimmy Borromeo added, “Di Malaboni!” (because the Oretas hail from Malabon).
We couldn’t stop laughing!
When you go, I hope you have with you friends who will make you laugh as our hosts did – til there were tears in our eyes! The food was undoubtedly delicious but I do think there were two secret ingredients that elevated the food from delicious to memorable: laughter and great company! Mas masarap talaga ang pagkain kapag masarap ang tawanan!
Bring your own bottle when you visit – there’s no corkage. They want to make sure you have a great time!
Trattoria Mario Mio
Km 48, Aguinaldo Highway,
Lalaan, Silang, Cavite.
Take Carmona exit then head to Maguyam Road.
Turn left on Aguinaldo Highway.
Mario Mio is inside MONTELUCE
+63 917 166 7332