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I remember the first time someone told me about Va Bene, I thought it was really funny there was this authentic Italian restaurant right by the gas station outside my village. I’m so used to thinking of convenience stores and the standard fast food joint when nourishment and gas come up in the same thought bubble. I mean, I did get a 1.5 liter bottle of Coke just three days ago when I loaded a full tank at Shell.

Va Bene Pasta
When you get to this particular Petron station, you’ll find that the commercial establishments are aplenty. There’s your standard convenience joint, a coffee shop, a yogurt place, cake shops, a ham store, a shoe repair shop, some fast food joints, a doctor’s office and lastly, Va Bene Pasta Deli, which arguably boasts some of the best pasta dishes in Makati.

Va Bene Pasta
I was there at lunch on a weekday and was greeted with a lot of empty tables. To me, this isn’t a bad sign, it just means I’ll probably get faster, better service. The space is small and the walls are adorned with numerous awards Va Bene’s received throughout its lifespan.

Va Bene Pasta
My childhood friend, Alex was here for work from Singapore and I hadn’t seen her for months so it was nice to catch up. I picked Va Bene not knowing that she stopped eating white carbs so that day had to be an exception.

Va Bene Pasta
For starters, we were served some bruschetta. This is a freebie everyone gets after ordering. This simple appetizer consists of bread, fresh tomatoes, garlic, basil olive oil, and parmesan. It gets pretty addictive once you start eating it but because it tastes so fresh and light, you end up finishing it all and not feeling very full afterwards. This is a good thing assuming you have a big appetite and a full pasta order awaiting.

Va Bene Pasta
What sets Va Bene apart from other restaurants is that they make their own fresh pasta daily. The restaurant is run by Chef Massimo Veronesi who was the chef of Mi Piace Italian at the Peninsula for 5 years before starting Va Bene. Alex had the Blank Ink Tagliolini (Php 390) with seafood marinara in light tomato cream sauce. Despite breaking some diet restrictions, Alex was really happy with this dish. The servings were generous, there was enough pasta, sauce and seafood to fill her up. I managed to have a bite of this and thought it was excellent. I think the squid ink pasta gives the marinara a bolder seafood flavor.

Va Bene Pasta
Here’s what I always get: Organic Eggs Tagliolini (Php 390) with portobello mushrooms, white wine cream sauce and truffle oil. It’s basically my go-to truffle pasta. Whenever I’m craving that, this is the only place I want to eat it. Noodles are al dente, the cream sauce and mushrooms are a predictably safe albeit winning combo for comfort. It isn’t doused in truffle oil but the general whiff and subtle aftertaste is there. If you only need to try one dish there, it’s this.

I know a lot of people who are fond of their ravioli dishes but generally, if pasta’s what you’re looking for it’s really hard to order anything wrong at Va Bene. The only real issue I have with this place is that parking is so terribly difficult so hitch a ride with someone or commute so that doesn’t need to be a problem. If you’re looking for authentic Italian food on a fairly decent budget, Va Bene gives a bang for your buck.

Va Bene Pasta Deli
2/F Petron Gas Station, EDSA
Dasmariñas Village – North, Makati
(02) 556-9442

Maple
Due to the recent renovation in San Antonio Plaza (yup, the mini-mall across that big Church next to Forbes and Dasma), a bunch of new establishments have arrived and filled the once non-existent spaces. I first heard about Maple through my friend, Nicky when he pointed that the boarded up unit across us was going to be transformed into a “high-end Pancake House.” I honestly have no idea how long Maple’s been open but when my mom asked me to check it out with her this afternoon, I couldn’t refuse.

Maple
Maple’s interiors remind me of being in a sort of American country club. I’m not sure if I got that right though. They have a huge tree embossed in metal on their door and it reminds me of the Lion King. Their menus look like hardbound books and the food photography on it is excellent. I’d like to give the folks at Pancake House props for thinking Maple out to every minute detail.

Maple
Despite the fact it also serves pancakes, Maple is an entirely different experience. The price point is much higher with appetizers starting at the Php 400 range and main entrees ranging from Php 600 to Php 1000. When looking through the menu, my mom and I were talking about how expensive we felt it was but I think that’s cause we were comparing it to Pancake House (LOL). If you compare it to other relatively upscale restaurants though, it’s just the same. My mom and I wanted to order the Huevos Rancheros and the Prime Rib Tapa but they said they ran out. I guess that means I’ll have to go back.

Maple
They served us hot rolls first, with a maple syrup glaze along with some whipped butter. I usually enjoy softer bread but this wasn’t bad at all.

Maple
Mom’s food was first to arrive. She had the Big Maple Breakfast (Php 540) which was big indeed. The order consisted of 3 regular plate sized buttermilk pancakes, 2 eggs sunny side up, 2 breakfast sausages and potatoes. I’m not fond of American breakfast food in general so I didn’t get to try this. My mom said it was really good though and she enjoyed her meal.

Maple
These were terribly hard to photograph. We ordered the Chilean Mussels to share and wow, the dish was huge. I wasn’t expecting it to be this big but at the same time I’m glad it was cause that made it worth the price. I forgot to take note of the ingredients but my mom said they were seasoned in wine. This was fresh, flavorful and that’s really all I look for when it comes to seafood. Plus points for having the beards removed before serving.

Maple
Since the Prime Rib Tapa was sold out, I ordered the Dripping Baby Back Ribs (Php 850) which was served with grilled corn, a baked potato topped with cheese and sour cream and snow peas. If you’re into spicy food, this is definitely a keeper. It was unlike any other BBQ sauce I’d ever tasted, the meat was slow-roasted it slid off the bone just when I forked it. I can’t even name what spices they used cause there were probably so many.

Maple
Maple is located on the 2nd floor of San Antonio Plaza right next to Golden Spoon.

Maple
2F San Antonio Plaza Arcade
50 McKinley Road, San Antonio, Forbes Park
Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines