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Romancing the dough to make ‘passion’ pizza at Casa Italia?? |

Food and Leisure

Romancing the dough to make ‘passion’ pizza at Casa Italia??

OOH LA LAI - Lai S. Reyes - The Philippine Star

How could a gelateria smell as good as a freshly baked pizza? That’s what popped to mind as soon as I entered Casa Italia, the newly opened Italian restaurant in Forbestown Road, Burgos Park, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.??While most of the guests made a beeline for the huge chiller filled with all the gelato flavors one could think of, my nose led me to a nook by the stairwell where the aroma was coming from. There, I saw this guy working his dough slowly on the table, making it?stretch down the sides of the metal surface as he massaged it. Sitting on the glass counter was a freshly baked prosciutto pizza topped with fine burrata. The crust was crisp, thin and artisanal; the toppings were enough to make one’s mouth water.

Meet chef Donato Mazzola, the Italian chef who refers to his delectable creations as “passion pizzas,” which he makes when he’s around but are not on Casa Italia’s menu at the moment.??According to chef Donato, the pizza dough is not hurriedly made. It is prepared two days prior to baking “to let it develop naturally.”?And, unlike other pizzerias where the norm is to toss the dough to stretch it, chef Donato romances the dough slowly on the table with so much love and passion.?During Casa Italia’s formal opening, chef Donato prepared his signature “passion” pizzas using prime ingredients like caviar, gourmet cheese, truffle oil and arugula.??

“Chef Donato designed and conceptualized Casa Italia Philippines’ menu,” notes Casa Italia Philippines director Jay Tan, who brought the Singaporean brand to the Philippines.??Jay met Casa Italia founder Fox Hardegger through a mutual friend in Singapore in 2014.?“I told him I was interested in bringing Casa Italia to the Philippines. At that time, there were already four groups from Manila who showed interest in the brand,” recalled Jay, who even wrote an essay to Fox on what his vision for the brand was.??The rest, as they say, is history.??

More than just a gelato place?

What started out as a coffee and gelato place in Singapore has now evolved into a full-service restaurant.?Formerly named Gelateria Italia, Casa Italia takes pride not only in its fresh coffee and  flavorful, all-natural gelato treats, but savory offerings as well.?Casa Italia is known for its signature coffee blend called Otto, or “eight” in Italian. This is because the restaurant uses 100-percent-Arabica beans that are never more than eight weeks old from roasting, guaranteeing full-bodied freshness in every cup. This creates the perfect Casa Italia blend that is used for its hot coffee and cold-brew offerings, including cappuccino, latte, espresso, and the seductive affogato (vanilla gelato topped with a shot of hot espresso).??

As for the gelato, the restaurant uses only the freshest all-natural ingredients.??“These are made using top-quality ingredients imported mostly from Italy,” says Jay. “The pistachios are from Sicily. We also use Swiss milk chocolate without adding artificial flavors, chemicals and preservatives. Right now, we have more than 30 gelato flavors to choose from.”

Must-tries are the pistachio, strawberry, vanilla and durian gelatos.??

When Jay met with founder Fox Hardegger last year, Casa Italia was all about gelato and coffee. “At that time, though, they were slowly transforming into a restaurant-cafe. The timing was perfect. I didn’t want to just offer gelato and coffee here. So I told?Fox it would be a good idea if we served authentic Italian food as well.”

From Gelateria Italia, the company’s new name (Casa Italia) translates into “Italian home.”??“We want to make everything —coffee, pizza, gelato — the way people did in the old days. We are very particular about being traditional,” said Fox, who is Swiss-born but of Italian descent. His great-grandfather was a gelato-maker in Florence, but the art of making the Italian treat was not carried on in the family after the store closed and his family moved to Switzerland … until this revival in the tropics.??“I want to offer the dishes the old-fashioned way. And that’s what Filipino diners can expect from our savory offerings,” Fox enthused.??

During the media lunch, we got to taste not just the pizza but also two main entrees: the Roast Chicken with Potatoes and Fish with Siciliana Sauce. The chicken was roasted in the oven with herbs to perfect golden doneness. The skin was crisp, while the meat was tender and juicy. I also love the beef lasagna and chicken cannelloni.??

“When you want good pizza, you go to a pizzeria. If you’re looking for authentic Italian cuisine, you go to an Italian restaurant. When you want gelato, you go to the gelateria,” says Jay. “Our challenge was to have just one restaurant that provides all these good Italian comfort food. But then again, good Italian food is not enough. We wanted to give diners in the Philippines an authentic Italian experience.”

Thank goodness Jay found and brought to our shores Casa Italia, the fastest-growing Italian restaurant in Singapore.?




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Casa Italia is at Shop 5, Forbestown Road, Burgos Park, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City. It will open its second branch at SM City North EDSA.

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