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January 7, 2016

Eat Pray Love at Va Bene Pasta Deli

I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of food at Va Bene Pasta Deli at Bonifacio Central (where the cinemas are located) on the block immediately after Bonifacio High Street.
I had suggested the restaurant for our high school Christmas reunion on sheer account of the reputation of the Va Bene in Petron, which had drawn raves, and deservedly so, for the wonderful flavors bussed out at wonderfully cheap prices (the location was at a gas station, after all); and because of the proximity to everything else on High Street (a balikbayan classmate had requested Fort as venue).

I did, though, risk disappointment because I had been messaged by an Italian food hound friend when Va Bene Central Square that it was not up to par with Va Bene Petron. The challenge of an expanding restaurant is always maintaining quality.

Thankfully, I took the risk because, as it turns out, my food friend might have just popped in on a wrong day. The food, at our lunch at least, was excellent!

Daily Specials

The restaurant offers daily specials, which are a good deal because the combo meal comes with an appetizer AND a pasta that is still large enough to share. We had a burrata salad (burrata is a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream) to start and a ravioli followed. Both were delicious although I personally would have loved more burrata on the plate (who wouldn’t). And the pastas in the main menu are far superior.

I would strongly suggest to order from the main menu instead. If price is the issue, fear not because the servings are large enough to share – for 2 if you eat heftily, 3 if you have a regular appetite, and 4 if you your stomach is luckily petite.

What to Order
Obviously, pastas are their specialty. And they are so worth it. I was very happy with the Papardelle (large, very broad, flat pasta noodles, similar to wide fettuccine). The menu offers this with a 12 hours braised lamb shank but with an option for oxtail. And since the table was full of kare-kare lovers and some did not like lamb, we opted for the oxtail. It felt like home (that wonderful, Italian grandma-cooking kind of home). The flavors were strong but not overly so, with notes like a tenor belting out La Traviata.
For a less intense flavor, try the Ricotta Eggplant Tortellini, which only has a light arrabiata sauce, accented with a basil pesto and Pecorino cheese. Tortellini is a beautiful pasta because its shape, described as like a belly button (although only outties can relate!), allows it to really absorb the sauce, allowing a more compact flavor. And if you pair that with a great stuffing, like the eggplant with ricotta in this one, then how can you not win?
Equally impressive is the Spinach Cannelloni. I was surprised by the shape of this one at Va Bene, though, expecting the log-like shape of Cannelloni as we know it. This one, however, is rolled. But beneath each layer is spinach and a tomato cream sauce, which is just lovely.
Eat Pray Love

I was afraid that we would run out of food so I ordered this appetizer just as a filler but toward the end of the meal: a plate of parma ham affettati (sliced meat). Instead of rolling it around a melon, though, as Julia (Roberts) did in Eat Pray Love, this one is served with dried figs and shaved Pecorino (I guess they have a lot of Pecorino in the kitchen!). Stil delish and great to much on over catch up convos.

The meatball appetizer is also good but if you are no more than two, skip this as it is very filling!

Their desserts, while nothing to rave about, are also satisfying. The tiramisu is classic, served in a bowl. The lemon tart is … tart! If you are still grossly caught up in conversation, as we were, these will do. If you are after amazing desserts, go down to the 2nd floor and get your fix at Kitchen’s Best.

If you must stay, they also have a cheese platter. Not the best cheese but you can’t go wrong with cheese!

And for the prices alone, this place is a winner. There were ten of us and we spent only P600 each for 5 pastas, 4 appetizers, 3 sweet desserts, a cheese platter and coffee for all. It is really a steal!
Va Bene Pasta Deli
3rd Floor / Cinema Level
Central Square Building
Bonifacio High Street
Fort Bonifacio/Taguig
Major credit cards accepted
Reservations recommended
Call 02 9585018 / 2169879
Open daily for lunch and dinner.
Closed weekdays from 3pm to 6pm.
Wheelchair accessible via building elevator.
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