So it’s the day after Christmas. Some of us may have gone back to work for a couple of days, and some of us are still on vacation, but most of us are probably already excited for another round of celebration on New Year’s Eve. If you’re looking for a special, semi-splurge, family-friendly place for a pre-New Year meal, Va Bene Pasta Deli could be the place.
And should you decide, after reading this, that you want to try this place out, I highly suggest a reservation. A lot of walk-ins had to wait outside for quite some time before getting a table! I actually have a little story about that: I had called in my reservation the day before, and the person I talked to on the phone confirmed but actually DID NOT list it down! It was a good thing we came early and many tables were not yet filled, otherwise you would not be reading this review today.
Va Bene Pasta Deli is LITERALLY tucked away at the cinema level of the Bonifacio High Street Central Square Mall. It’s kind of a strange location to be in for a sit-down restaurant, but people still flock here for a taste of authentic Italian. This restaurant is after all owned by Italian chef Massimo Veronesi. He trained in various Michelin-starred restaurants across Italy and headed the kitchens of Mi Piace at the Peninsula before opening Va Bene.
Va Bene is actually an Italian expression that translates to “It’s good!”. Its interiors have this sort of homey diner feel that I find a bit disjointed from the kind of food Va Bene serve. The food is much fancier, and I just feel like the two elements together do not add up. In any case, the focus here is really the food rather than the interior. So let’s get on with it!
VB Salad (Php 460)
Mixed lettuce and arugula dressed in balsamic, with Parma ham and sunny side up eggs.
This was one of the more unique salads I have enjoyed in a while. Then again, I enjoy about 80% of things that have sunny side up eggs on them. I like the combination of flavors here because nothing overpowers the other, with the balsamic dressing adding just a bit of tang and acidity.
Mushroom Bruschetta (Php 390)
Toasted bruschetta with ricotta cheese generously spread on the surface, topped with pecorino cheese, salami Milano, and sautéed Portobello mushrooms. A drizzling of truffle oil is the last touch.
This came out from the kitchen later than I expected but boy was it good! The ricotta cheese spread on top was just enough to give each bite a creamy mouthful, and its the sort of cheese that allows the mushrooms, salami, and the truffle oil to shine. If only the bruschetta were a little warmer (and in effect toasty and crunchy), this would have been sheer perfection for me.
Massimo Round Pizza (Php 440)
Thick-crusted pizza with mozzarella, ricotta, capers, black olive pesto, Italian Sausages, and prawns. Also available as a square pizza for Php 288.
Not the best pizza I’ve had but still a tasty one. The crust had just the right amount of thickness and bubbling, providing a nice canvas for the cheeses and toppings.
Veal Cheeks Spinach Ravioli (Php 580)
Green-hued ravioli filled with creamed spinach, drenched in mushroom sauce veal jus and parmesan cheese.
These little dumplings were delicious thanks to the sauce and also the texture of the ravioli. There’s a bit of richness and umami to the sauce, somehow balanced out by the ravioli and the creamed spinach inside. For me, this was one of the more indulgent dishes we ordered because of the price.
Organic Eggs Tagliatelle (Php 440)
Homemade pasta in white wine cream sauce, with truffle oil and Portobello mushrooms.
I’m going to say it now: This might be the best truffle pasta I have eaten in Metro Manila so far. Maybe even the best I have ever eaten in my life. Everything about this pasta dish is perfect: From the thickness and width of the noodles that makes the sauce cling, to the way the truffle oil just really lights up the tastebuds with every bite.
Pappardelle (Php 480)
Lamb shank braised for 12 hours in a flavorful semi-dried tomato sauce, with Italian sausage and black olives adding extra flavor.
Another delicious pasta made in the sauce that I prefer. This has a very clear sweet-tangy tomato taste, but with pieces of lamb thrown in for good measure. Again, the choice of using papardelle for this is clever, because not only does the sauce have more surface to cling to, the pieces of lamb can sit on the pasta with every forkful as well.
Lemon Tart (Php 290)
Tangy lemon tart served with a side of coffee ice cream and figs compote.
Anytime a lemon dessert makes me pucker up, it’s a keeper. And this did that. I loved the sweet and sour flavors of the lemon tart although the texture of it wasn’t that silky or creamy as I expected. It’s a rather “packed” lemon tart, with a shell that is just a tad dry and kind of hard to easily slice through. Still a great dessert though, methinks.
You can eat the tart with the fig compote and the ice cream, but I prefer the pure lemon flavor of it. I will say though that both the compote and the ice cream they included with the tart are delicious in their own right, store-bought or no!
Here’s the thing about Va Bene Pasta Deli: You will probably have no complaints about the food. The food is good enough that the ambiance doesn’t really matter. But where I feel this restaurant lacks is in the service. The fact that they forgot to list down my reservation despite confirming with me over the phone was already a telling sign.
As a customer, you expect a certain kind of attitude from the restaurant staff, and I did not get much of this from the staff at Va Bene. I had to ask for water three times before I got it. It doesn’t seem to me like they had a shortage of staff on that day. It’s not really a big restaurant. From my observation though, the wait staff lacked a certain meticulousness. There was a piece of meat stuck between our two tables that was left there by the previous diners, and no one even noticed!
Also, whenever I asked any questions about the food as I ordered, it’s like they don’t really know what they’re serving. Of course they know the name and what it looks like, but apart from that they don’t really know what else to say.
All that said, I still firmly believe that if you look at the food alone, Va Bene Pasta Deli is a winner. The quality is great, the taste is great, the presentation is good too. The prices are a little on the expensive side so this is a bit of a splurge meal, but the food is good enough to merit the occasional visit.
My rating: 8 out of 10
Va Bene Pasta Deli
Full disclosure: This post is NOT sponsored in any way and I received no compensation for writing this review. All opinions stated above are my own.