Ever Heard of Herencia Restaurant in Ilocos? Their Pizzas are Insane!April 12, 2015
- Carmel IlustrisimoWords
Herencia Restaurant in Paoay, Ilocos Norte is famous for turning Ilocano specialities, the pinakbet for example, into pizzas.
I’ve been to Herencia Restaurant several times with my family during summer and Christmas breaks as it is in my mother’s home province, but last week was the first time we went there at night. Beside it, Paoay Church (also known as the San Augustine Church), which was built during the late 17th century, was a beautiful sight to behold. The view of the church, the antique furniture decorating the café, and the traditional food being served gave an old Spanish-era vibe making the ambience even cozier.
It was almost 9PM and people were still streaming in. After ordering, my sister and I took a quick look around. Displayed on some shelves and tables were varieties of local delicacies, including cornik and bugnay (wine), which were for sale. From one window, we could see how the famous pizzas were made.
Herencia serves really delicious traditional Ilocano meals, but their claim to fame is their unique pizza flavors, which include pinakbet, bagnet, dinuguan, gamet (seaweed), carbonara, and tuna among others.
Finally, the pinakbet pizza arrived. One whole pizza was good for around 3 to 5 people. The crust was thin and crispy, but the crunch that came when I took my first bite was quickly followed by the soft sweetness of cheese, on which basic pinakbet ingredients were embedded. Their sharp, distinct tastes stood out but did not overpower the cheese. In fact, I thought it complemented the bitterness of the ampalaya quite well. The combination of vegetables reminded us of the homemade pinakbet we grew up with, while the cheese did not make us forget that it was also pizza. It was no different from any good Italian-style thin-crust vegetable pizza, except that it was topped with ingredients specifically used for pinakbet, providing it with a distinctly local flair.
At Herencia, you can also order a sampler, which serves two flavors of your choice in one pizza. We chose dinuguan and gamet, a local treat similar to the Japanese nori. Again, the cheese was soft and delicious, blending with the distinct taste of the toppings without overpowering them. The dinuguan half of the pizza was covered with patches of fine dinuguan, crispy pork strips, and green pepper. The seaweed half was covered almost entirely by the somewhat grainy gamet. I was expecting something more like seaweed strips topping the cheese, and that that part of the pizza would be all soggy and mushy in the mouth. In fact, the gamet was rather chewy, but not in an unpleasant way at all. The tang of the vegetables provided a slight but delightful imbalance, and surprisingly, the combination of slightly salty cheese and fairly salty seaweed did not bombard my tongue with too much umami. It was my favorite half of the pizza.
Aside from dinuguan and carbonara-flavored pizzas, Herencia also offers rice meals and desserts. Although some of their specialties are a bit expensive, they’re worth a try, especially when touring the North of Luzon. As mentioned earlier, the restaurant is located near a church, but there is also a small park beside it, which is a good place for picture-taking, as well as several souvenir shops. However, due to its popularity, Herencia gets crowded during peakk season (summer and Christmas break), especially around noon and early in the evening, which sometimes affects the pace of their service. All in all, due to their unique menu and the quality of their meals, Herencia Restaurant is still highly recommended.