Located at the European-inspired Avalu Residences along Guanzon Street, in Makati City is a new Italian restaurant worth the trip.
Called PastaDito, the seven-room bed-and-breakfast building is owned by couple Roberto and Eleanor Fazzini.
An engineer by profession, Roberto has lived in the Philippines for the last 38 years. The Italian expatriate first came to Manila as part of the company that built the very first LRT, and simply fell in love with the city.
When his job was done, he returned to Milan and resigned from the company.
“I was told to try Manila for one week after several postings in the Middle East. That one week quickly turned to two weeks, and then I met Eleanor who became my wife, and I’ve stayed here since then. Manila became my home,” he recalled.
Roberto’s mother is from Naples where he was born; his father is from Milan where he was raised. He related how his mother used to prepare spaghetti for three hours because she used fresh tomatoes cooked over low fire.
“It’s more convenient now to use canned tomatoes,” he laughed.
As Roberto decided to turn the building they bought into Avalu Residences, Eleanor envisioned to put up her own Italian restaurant.
“I told my wife, ‘Let’s do something different from the others. I can import all kinds of ingredients you want and need, ingredients that they don’t sell yet in the market. Let’s use these ingredients’,” he continued.
This Roberto to eventually open Italfood Distribution, Inc., which now supplies imported Italian and European ingredients to other restaurants in Manila, top hotels and supermarkets. The company has everything from wine, cheese, cold cuts, and yes, even tomatoes.
With an innate love and passion for cooking, Eleanor absorbed the culinary culture of Italians from her travels to Italy. And when their sons Christian and Stefano were studying in London, she busied herself with culinary arts lessons when she went to visit them.
“Being in Italy made a lot of difference,” Eleanor said, “but the real cooking experiences happened in my own camp, by being a cook day by day.”
Finally finding the courage to pursue her dream, she opened PastaDito. Adopting the cooking tradition of Southern Italy, she serves up Burrata cheesee il Risotto, Ziti pasta al Porcini con Prosciutto, the famous Ossobocco with Porcini mushrooms, and her specialty dish Spaghetti allo Scoglio.
“That pasta plate that brings a smile to our diners though is the Spaghetti Pomodoro because simplicity always wins,” she related.
“It’s true that it’s not easy to please all customers as there are those who may compare a famous dish from one prepared in a new and complex way, but the difference is very little between the difficulty to make a good new dish and a Trattoria dish,” she said.
In dining at her dream-come-true though, the self-taught Filipina cook has one little advice for those coming over to her restaurant: “Never forget the wine – just to make things really authentic.”