Try This: La Spezia’s Italian Burrata with Corn to Start and Camicia Pear for DessertMay 7, 2017
La Spezia is a region in Northern Italy is the gateway to the famously colorful and picturesque seaside town of Cinque Terre, and for founders Vin Yuquimpo and Aaron Shiu of the low-key restaurant of the same name (it literally looks like a house from the outside that we weren’t sure if we should enter at first, and recreating a home-feel is just what they were going for) in Quezon City, they hope for their restaurant to be a gateway for the community to enjoy quality food without having to dress up and face the traffic to Makati.
“Our food is simple,” Yuquimpo tells us, though they aim to use ingredients that elevate the taste of the cuisine. For example, for parmesan they currently are using an 18-month aged Parmigiano Regianno. But they aren’t the type to glorify imported goods. They enjoy working with what is available and popular in the Philippines (“You won’t see us selling sea bass here but we use lapu-lapu, which Filipinos love,” says Yuquimpo), and speak the praises of the quality of local produce, specifically onions and garlic (“It’s more flavorful than ones abroad”).
“[We chose Italian cuisine because] it’s very straightforward, it’s very clean, it’s simple. You put a few good ingredients and the process isn’t complicated, and when you eat it, hindi siya nakakaumay. In Italian cuisine, there’s the beauty in subtlety.”
“We’re semi-big guys so we like our food heavier,” so the friends make sure to serve dishes that are big enough to satisfy them, making the dishes also ideal for eating family-style. The pair, who became friends in Enderun and did their internship together in Shangri-La Malaysia before Shiu worked in France and Yuquimpo in Shangri-La Makati. Shiu went on to work in a Michelin-star restaurant in Hong Kong while Yuquimpo took his Masters in Les Roche Switzerland, and after working for some years, they felt it was time that they started their own restaurant and be in creative control.
The dishes we tried were part of their second menu, which will only be available for a few days more so hurry on through and catch them while you can.
More taut than your typical burrata, the white cheese is served in typical fashion drizzled with high quality Italian olive oil and balsamic, and in untypical fashion with grilled local corn. The corn gives it that sweetness that Filipinos can’t seem to get enough of in local cuisine and complements the salty, subtle flavors of the simple starter dish. The burrata is supplied to them by one of their good friends, a Frenchman working in the Philippines in the restaurant business.
CAMICIA PEAR with GELATO
This dessert is one of those dishes that one must travel out of their way to try. Unlike any other dish we’ve encountered in Manila, the pear dish has a not-so-common fruit taking centerstage, poached and flambéed in their secret ingredient, the pear packs a punch as it imitates a spiky mouthfeel that mimics the sensation of small carbonated bubbles—weirdly specific and strange-sounding, we know. It’s spunky flavor is tempered with graham crumble and vanilla gelato, which is brought to life with a savory balsamic syrup.