Wednesday, April 16, 2014

To the Heart of Italian Cuisine

Hotel Celeste, the boutique hotel at the corner of San Lorenzo Drive and A. Arnaiz Avenue in Makati City, closed down its main dining outlet and opens a new restaurant run, along with the hotel’s whole fodd and beverages operations, by the Cravings group of restaurants.
The new restaurant, called Lucia, features select Italian dishes by chef Davide Lombardi, who is know his restaurant Lombardi’s Authentic Italian, which is part of the Cravings group.
“When the invitation came from the owners of Hotel Celeste (the mother-and-daughter tandem of Cely and Tricia Sarabia), I immediately thought that the dishes that should be served in a fabulous hotel like this should also exude the same elegance and flavor,” said Lombardi. 
“With Lucia, I want to share real Italian flavors,” her further said. “We do classic Italian dishes.”
            Lomabardi explained that  in northern Italy, the dishes are richer, with more butter and  cream, while in southern Italy, they are more Mediterranean and have olive oil, fruits, vegetables, seafood. He selects the best dishes among them to serve at the restaurant especially those he had exeprienced eating at hme.
“I grew up with my grandmother and mother. On weekends, the family comes together. We all help in the kitchen to prepare the food. Since I’m married to a Filipina, we also do the same in the province, in Mariveles, Bataan,” reveled Lombardi, who added that adobo is his favorite Filipino.
            The name of restaurant itself is a homage to the chef’s mother.
 “It is my mother’s name, Lucia, and this is my way of honoring and thanking her, for passing on to me the passion of cooking authentic Italian meals,” he explained. 

Chef Davide Lombardi
Lombardi doing a cooking demo
              The name complements the name of the hotel derived from the name of a woman and the founder, Cely Sarabia, mother of Tricia who is now at the helm of the hotel.
The semi-fine dining Lucia Ristorante has more meat offerings along with Italian favorites such as pizza and pasta. It also boasts of a wider range of premium Italian wines.
For starters, diners can choose from a sampling of cold (antipasti freddi) or hot (antipasti caldi) appetizers. Cold appetizers include carpaccio di manzo sedano e grana or beef carpaccio marinated with lemon and olive oil and fresh parmesan (P480); mozzarella di bufala ai tres pomodori or mozzarella bufala with theee tomatoes (P660); insalata mista or salad with cherry tomatoes, shallot and balsamic vinaigrette (P240); the antipasto all’Italiana or Italian ham with Italian vegetables (P780); and the carpaccio di salmone or salmon carpaccio marinated with lemon, olive oil served with dill and fennel bulb (P490).  
For the antipasti caldi, Lucia is offering two special selections: minestrone di verdure con pastina or hearty vegetable soup with fresh pasta (P220), and the parmigiana di melanzane or roasted eggplant with mozzarella cheese (P260).
            The pizza selections are limited but satisfactory. The menu includes the Napoletana pizza with tomato sauce, Mozzarella and fresh basil (P290); the quattro formaggi with Provolone, Fontina, Gorgonzola, Mozzarella cheeses (P490); the pizza ai salumi (P490) with tomato sauce and Italian hams; the quattro stagioni (P365) with ham, mushrooms and artichokes; and the prosciutto di parma, funghi (P385) with tomato sauce, prosciutto and mushroom.
            The pasta is made fresh here,a nd it is used in its five dishes—the ravioli di magro (P290),  Italian dumpling with ricotta cheese and spinach; the taglierini tartufati (P440), homemade taglierini with mushroom and black truffles; the lasagne della casa con crema de porcini (P320), lasagna with bolognese ragu and porcini sauce; the tagliatelle alla carbonara (P340), tagliatelle with pancetta and egg; and Lomabardi’s own creation for the restaurant, the Spaghetti Lucia (P590), a subtle spaghetti dish with seafood that includes clams, mussels, squid and giant prawns.  
A good selection of fish and meat dishes makes up Lucia’s entrees. The dentice alla pugliese (P460), roasted snapper with pancetta and broccoli; and the orata all’ ortolanala in crema al basilico (P440), roasted white fish with pesto cream sauce, are worth trying, but the stars of the menu are the meats—coscie di pollo tartufate in salsa ros, boneless chicken thigh stuffed with mushrooms with pomodoro dolce; the scallopine alla Milanese (P480), thinly sliced pork loin, breaded and served with fresh salad; tagliata di manzo (P1,200), thinly sliced beef tenderloin baked with olive oil and rosemary and served with caramel balsamic sauce; and the bistecca di manzo arrosto (P990), fillet of roasted beef with truffle sauce.
            If you still have room, they have a trio of dessert offerings—tiramisu (P210), the panacotta del Piemonte (P160), and the crostatina di frutta fresca (P260)—that puts an elegant finish to a filling meal.

Bistecca di manzo arrosto
Mozzarella di buffala ai 3 pomodori

Spaghetti Lucia
Taglierini tartufati
 Lucia Ristorante is at the Hotel Celeste at 2 San Lorenzo Drive corner A. Arnaiz Avenue, San Lorenzo Village, Makati City.  For more information, call 887-8080 or check the Facebook page at

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