Raffaele: An Italian master in the heart of Intramuros

Ida Anita Q. Del Mundo (The Philippine Star) - March 15, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Bayleaf’s newest restaurant may only be a few months old – it opened June of last year – but it carries a long, age-honored tradition of pizza making. After all, it is named after Raffaele Esposito, who is considered the father of the modern pizza.

In the 19th century, Esposito owned the Pizzeria di Pietro e Basta Cose in Italy, but at that time, pizza was something that consisted of left over ingredients put together and eaten so as not to waste food.

As the premier pizza-maker in Naples, Esposito was tasked to prepare a pizza for Queen Margherita of Savoy. The Queen’s favorite among the pizzas that Esposito made consisted of tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil – ingredients chosen to represent the colors of the Italian flag.

The Margherita pizza is also Bayleaf general manager Ed Vitug’s favorite at Raffaele. “My philosophy when it comes to pizza is ‘the simpler, the better’,” he explains. This philosophy embodies the menu of Raffaele which uses fresh, light, simple ingredients.

The pizzas at Raffaele are baked in a wood-fired oven brought over straight from Italy and uses authentic Italian flour. Aside from the Margherita, there is also the Neopoletana with tomato, garlic, anchovies, olives, oregano and mozzarella; Marinara with tomato, basil, garlic and oregano; Capricciosa with tomato, artichoke, prosciutto, mozzarella and alfalfa; Bianca with grana, basil, green olives, chili lakes, garlic and mozzarella.

Want more? Try Prosciutto con Zucca with prosciutto, squash blossoms, tomato and mozzarella; Quattro with four cheeses – gorgonzola, provolone, mozzarella and parmesan; Rucola con Cipolla with arugula, caramelized onions, grana, gorgonzola and balsamic vinegar; Pizza alla Pescatora with assorted seafood, tomato, mozzarella and basil; Funghi with assorted mushrooms, truffle oil, mozzarella and basil; and La Carbonara with pancetta, cream, egg and parmesan.

The restaurant, located on the third floor of Bayleaf, was once just a veranda used as a smoking area for those using the function rooms. Now, the restaurant, with glass walls and ceiling, offers an unobstructed view of the walls of Intramuros.

Raffaele fills the need for an Italian place in Intramuros and offers something different from what Bayleaf already has to offer diners. “Everyone likes pizza. It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like pizza,” Vitug adds.

Aside from the pizzas, Vitug recommends the gamberetti – an appetizer of white shrimps with preserved lemons, garlic, chili, almonds – and the agnello Bolognese with lamb sauce, roasted bell pepper, mint pesto, goat cheese and tortiglioni pasta.

There is also traditional carbonara, tartufo funghi with truffle cream, and a variety of risottos. Main course offerings include roasted sea bass, spicy rosemary chicken, roasted suckling pig, steak and grilled lamb ribs, among others.

If there is still room for dessert, the Italian favorite tiramisu is a sure winner, light and creamy, as is the frutta con ricotta with macerated fruits, ricotta, pistachio, citrus curd and honey comb, plated like a work of art.

With a consistent growth in patrons in its first few months, Raffaele is also attracting more groups, says Vitug. The restaurant can accommodate up to 60 people and is also adjacent to the hotel’s function rooms. More intimate wedding receptions and small events can be hosted here.

Offering fresh, authentic, delicious Italian cuisine in the heart of Intramuros, Raffaele is certainly living up to the name – Signore Raffaele will be proud.

The Bayleaf is located at Muralla cor. Victoria streets, Intramuros, Manila. For inquiries, call 318-5000 or visit www.thebayleaf.com.ph.





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