Being a temporary resident of a foreign country exposes you to so many different aspects of their culture: language, lifestyle and cuisine. Obviously, the latter is my favorite of all even though the others are still on my shortlist. When mi studiare a Firenze, I made sure that no meal was left uneaten, no vino left uncorked, no cappuccino unsipped, no cured meat untouched, and no gelato unenjoyed. And here’s proof!
Pizza from Napoli
Fave meat shop for some Prosciutto
Ristorante Ciak in Monterosso for some Pasta Ciak
Cafe Liberta’s signature cappuccino
Trattoria Za Za’s mouthwatering Bistecca Fiorentina
Birthday Limoncello shots at Spleen
Acqua Al Due’s Trio Di Bistecca Fiorentina: Balsamic, Blueberry and Filetto
The crap part about being exposed to such authenticity is the sheer frustration and withdrawal syndrome that follows suit when, upon returning to the motherland, one finds herself faced with faux-talian food that is reminiscent of 3M pizza or kiddie spaghetti with ketchup as base. I like them and still crave for them when I’m on children’s party mode. But still… you can’t mess with Italian!
So imagine our delight when, during a drive back from Subic, we enter the ristorante in Angeles of all places: C’s
From the outside it doesn’t look like much since it’s in the same row as such aptly named girly bars as “Foxy’s” “Foxy Lady” and “Pussycat Dulls”. But it doesn’t matter, the book was so much better than the cover, even if we were sitting side by side with some old foreign fogies canoodling with young Pinay uhm… ladies. We decided to eat al fresco to get some fresh breeze because our Subic trip was so hot we felt roasted.
No need for elaboration. This is as authentic as you can get:
The major player in C’s menu is the always imitated, never replicated Panizza
. Panizza is a hybrid of a panini and a pizza. This dish is so popular, all the varieties cover an entire page on their menu. We order the Saint Jacques: shrimp, scallop flakes, and pecorino. Yellowcab has their own take on this: Dear Darla, but I swear in God’s name they should be struck by lightning because in no way should you bastardize the holiness that is the Panizza!
The best part about the Panizza, aside from the delicateness of the bread, is how you eat it. The pizza mutation comes with a bowl of freshly grown alfalfa and arugula, you take a strip of the panizza, sprinkle the condiments above, and roll them into.. well a shawarma-like panini. When it hits your mouth, the alfalfa provides a fresh dose of nuttiness while the arugula gives each bite a nice peppery contrast which supports the saltiness and seasoning of the Panizza. This may very well be the only reason people travel from Manila to Angeles City to C’s.
I’ve been a few times and order at least 2 different types of Panizza, but on this trip we realized that we cannot overwhelm ourselves. But that’s not all!!! Each of us wanted to order our own dish.
Gizelle, our superattentive server, which Alex seemed to have a soft, albeit hard edged German, spot for Gizelle, God bless her, tried to warn us that we might be ordering too much food, since most dishes are family size aka BIG portions. But we were adamant. We want food. We want it all!!!! So the rest of the meal included:
A light Caprese salad
A said that this is how tomatoes should taste like. Nice and firm with a juicy sweetness to it, these oversized roma tomatoes with some sweet basil and rounds of fresh mozzarella di bufala (water buffalo mozzarella) were seasoned lightly but perfectly, bringing a nice start to what would inevitably be a very heavy meal.
A also got the Asparagus Soup
(am I remembering it right? Interestingly enough, it had some depth to it while maintaining an airiness to it, with some Creme Fraiche foam and bits of croutons. It was very straightforward.
L loves her soup, and her Tomato Soup brought her to soup heaven! It was so thick and tomato-ey that a spoonful of it wouldn’t even budge or water down. Honestly, I could’ve done without the creme fraiche foam, but it added the rich creaminess that was a good compliment to the richness of the tomatoes. It reminded me of Pappa Al Pomodoro, a thick Tuscan bread and tomato porridge. It was so hearty it could be its own meal.
L also has a love affair with Mushrooms, and ordered some Morelle Mushrooms reduced in some white wine with rosemary, garlic and evoo. The dish was a heaping! We tried our damnest to finish it, but clearly this dish slightly made us realize that we migh have really over ordered… because after the Primi Piatti, our Secondi arrived, which made our tummies too full to grasp the actual ratings for the dishes.
Homemade Italian Sausage with some roasted potatoes, lentils and greens.
I thoroughly enjoyed the hidden gem aka. Contorno (side vegetables) which were the lentils underneath, because you don’t get a lot of them in Manila. The sausage, ahhhh nicely textured and seasoned, was not very spicy like the usual Italiano fare, but was heavy and delectable nonetheless.
Spaghetti con Frutti di Mare
Now at this point, we were borderline comatose from the ingestion of all these flavor bombs. J didn’t think there was anything special with the pasta. I, on the other hand had much to adore about this dish. First off, The tomato base was light and refreshing which enabled the seafood to become center stage. Speaking of seafood… damn! They did not scrimp on the fish, mussels, clams, shrimps and scallops. It was so abundant that I complained there was not enough pasta for me to eat. Now that’s a problem you want to have.
And lastly, the Bistecca
AHHHH It reminded me of Trattoria Zaza’s take on this, which is really beyond explanation. But C’s version was so tender and well seasoned that it mildly gave me the shivers. Of course A, being the glutton that he is, pushed me to get the 500g size, but I knew that it would spell trouble and heart attacks, so I put my foot down and got the 250g. It was more than enough. What makes the Bistecca a winner is the thickness of the meat, which made the medium rareness of it stand out. I was in steak heaven.
We left no room for dessert and had to have pots and cups of hot water and tea to calm our overexerted tummies before the drive back to manila.
The interesting thing about C’s is the fact that the Chef, Chris Locher, is not Italiano (gasp!) but Austrian, or German, or I dont remember, but I don’t understand how italiano rustico can be so tutto bene from an outsider’s perspective. It’s so authentic, that Philipine Tattler named C’s as one of Philippine’s Best Restaurants two years in a row. Beat that!
Good thing gas prices have gone down, because C’s is a restaurant worth trekking the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) for.
C’s is located at 210 Don Juico Ave, Clarkfield, Angeles City. Call them for reservations at 045-8924059 because the place fills up.
To learn about other Tuscan meals I’ve had click below. Most of them are in Italiano, so good luck:
Cafe Liberta A Firenze in Piazza della Liberta, Firenze
Acqua Al Due in Firenze
Trattoria Za Za’s in Firenze
Ristorante Ciak in Monterosso Cinque Terre