Amidst the towering buildings and busy streets of Makati City is L’Incontro—a cozy Italian restaurant where you can enjoy great Italian food within a rustic setting that encourages you to slow down, relax and unwind.
I discovered this Italian restaurant about a month ago when it hosted the food and wine pairing dinner organized by the Straits Wine Company Manila. The menu that was served to us during that time was customized specifically for the event. I enjoyed my evening a lot that I decided to invite my good friend—and fellow foodie—Erika last Thursday for a fine dining experience and some overdue girl bonding here.
Arriving at L’Incontro Italian Restaurant
From the moment that we stepped into the doors of L’Incontro, we were greeted by cozy and inviting atmosphere with an equally warm and friendly staff. Their main dining area still had that romantic atmosphere that really got my attention the first time I was here. Erika agreed with me on that part so much so that we were curious on how many proposals have been done here. Apparently, quite a lot, we were told. Often, the staff would be in cahoots with the guy by preparing a special dessert with the engagement ring incorporated in it.
In fact, this Italian restaurant has become a favorite venue for weddings and private events and gatherings in Makati. That being said, I highly recommend to call in advance to reserve a table since it is not unusual for them to be closed to the public when there is an event happening here.
New Wine Lounge
Beside the main dining area is an equally cozy wine lounge which just opened this month. Along with their impressive selection of red, white, and rose wines, the wine lounge at L’Incontro Italian Restaurant also offers a variety of cocktail and mixed drinks, perfect if you’re looking for a place to relax and unwind after a long day at work.
As part of its soft opening, diners at L’Incontro Italian Restaurant are treated to a complimentary cocktail for the entire month of December at the wine lounge. So make sure to drop by within the next few days to take advantage of it.
The Menu at L’Incontro Italian Restaurant
“Don’t judge the book by its cover” is the best way that I would describe the menu of L’Incontro Italian Restaurant. Unlike most other restaurants in Makati with the flashy menus with all the huge pictures of their dishes, the menu at this Italian restaurant was simple and straightforward, very much like the different Italian food being served here.
Diners are given two different kinds of menus the moment they sit down. The first one contains the different kinds of Italian food they serve. The second is their extensive wine menu. Most of the red and white wines listed come from different wineries in Italy, but there are also selections representing wineries from other countries.
Since Erika and I have had our fair share of dining in different Italian restaurants, we decided to choose items in their menu that we don’t usually find elsewhere. We started our fine dining experience here with Carpaccio di Manzo Wagyu—thinly sliced choice cut Wagyu beef tenderloin marinated with thyme & balsamic vinegar. It is served raw with a truffle balsamic glaze, Parmesan cheese shavings, sliced button mushrooms and arugula—and Crespella ai Fungi e Tartufo—a crepe filled with smoked ham and cheese and smothered in a black truffle and mushroom sauce.
Erika and I have had our share of raw meats, but this was our first time to try raw beef. It was, we discovered, a delightful way to start our dinner. The thin slivers of beef were so delicate that they just melted in our mouth. The combination of the flavors of the other components of the dish gave it a pleasing roundness to the palate.
The Crespella was a bit bolder in terms of flavor. It reminded me of the mushroom dish served to us during the food and wine pairing dinner that I absolutely loved and enjoyed. The silky sauce made it appear quite filling, but that wasn’t the case. It was very well balanced that it teased our taste buds just enough to eagerly await our main courses.
While enjoying our appetizers, one of the waiters—Freddie—asked us if we would like to have a glass of wine to go with our meal. We asked him what he would recommend for us, and he suggested a bold red wine would be suited for both our appetizers and main dishes.
Erika decided to get a glass of Daunia “Sangiovese-Merlot” 2010 while I decided to try their Prosecco. The Merlot Erika chose did lift up the flavors of both appetizers, heightening flavors that we didn’t notice without it. On the other hand, the Prosecco cut down on the richness of the dish, making it taste even more delicate. At the same time, it had a refreshing and cleansing feel in the mouth.
We decided to try three different dishes for our main course during our dinner here at L’Incontro Italian Restaurant. The first was a Chestnut and Ricotta Cheese Ravioli, which were freshly made ravioli filled with a chestnut and ricotta cheese filling and served with a Porcini mushroom sauce. The second was Risotto ai Fungi, a rice dish made with four kinds of mushrooms: oyster, shitake, button and Portobello. The third is their Pizza Sausage Arrabiata made with capers, Italian sausage and a freshly made spicy pomodoro sauce.
Being a fine dining Italian restaurant, we figured that the servings for the main dishes would be rather petite. As you can tell from the picture, we were very much mistaken. True to the Italian tradition of sharing meals at the table, the servings of the different main courses served at this Italian restaurant can easily feed two people, or one greedy and hungry guest.
After reeling from the shock of the servings, we tucked in, beginning with the ravioli. We were both quite fascinated on the unique filling, which was a welcome change from the standard spinach and ricotta. The buttery texture of the chestnut blended well with the creaminess of the ricotta cheese and mushroom sauce that came with the dish. The Prosecco mellowed down the richness of the dish just ever so slightly while heightening the sweetness of the chestnut. On the other hand, Erika’s Merlot heightened the nutty flavor of the chestnut complemented by the meaty taste of the mushrooms.
The pizza was very straightforward, perfect for diners looking for something familiar to try in this Italian restaurant. I personally enjoyed the fact that the heat coming from the pomodoro sauce was very mellow and slowly built up at the back of your palate as you eat, instead of surprising you right away at the first bite. This is one dish that really worked well with my Prosecco since the white wine not only brought out the fresh taste of the pomodoro sauce used in the pizza. It also helped cut down the spiciness, allowing me to enjoy the dish so much more.
Erika and I came across a slight hiccup to our dining experience here when we tried the risotto. It was a bit too dry for us and did not have that creamy consistency commonly attributed to this Italian rice dish. The blend of the shitake and portobello mushrooms overpowered the other two kinds of mushrooms used in this dish, which easily mellowed down and rounded out after we decided to add just a little bit more parmesan.
But the best part of our dinner here at L’Incontro Italian restaurant was yet to come. After the smorgasbord of Italian food we had, we decided to choose something light for our dessert. We chose two popular Italian desserts: Panna Cotta and Tiramisu.
While waiting for our desserts to arrive, Freddie came back and asked us how are we enjoying our meal so far. We told him that our dining experience at L’Incontro Italian Restaurant has been very pleasant so far. Erika also took the time to complement his suggestion of pairing our food with a glass of red wine. With that, he asked us if we wanted to have a cup of coffee with our dessert. Being coffee lovers, we said ‘yes’.
Freddie then asked us what kind of coffee we would like to have. We both decided to go for their brewed coffee. When he asked us what blend would we want. Thinking that their brewed coffee was pretty much like most other restaurants, we just told him that we wanted the regular brew. He delightfully surprised us when he informed us that L’Incontro Italian Restaurant offers a selection of coffee bean blends from different parts of the world for their brewed coffee. After his fine recommendation earlier that evening, we asked him what he would recommend. After asking us things like how strong would we want our coffee and whether we would want to have one with a light flavor or a bold one, he recommended the Brazil blend for Erika (since she wanted something on the lighter side) and the bold Ethiopian blend for me.
Our dessert came shortly after with our coffee. We first tried their Panna Cotta. Its velvety and creamy texture was just heavenly. At the same time, it’s very light and had just the right hint of vanilla in it. The tiramisu served here was as authentic as it could get. It wasn’t not made with a sponge cake drizzled with coffee. Instead, it was made with lady finger biscuits that were just slightly soaked with espresso. The mascarpone cheese smothered on top and in between the biscuits was smooth and not too sweet.
Both desserts worked great with the coffee suggested to us by Freddie. My bold Ethiopian coffee, which had some chocolate notes, really complemented well with the desserts by giving them just that touch of coffee-chocolate taste in my mouth. On the other hand, the bright and tangy taste of the Brazil blend cut through the richness of the desserts. Altogether, it was a perfect way to end our meal.
Final Thoughts on L’Incontro Italian Restaurant
The word bellissimo is Italian which means “very beautiful.” From the time that we arrived to our dinner and the service we were given here, Erika and I agreed that it was truly a bellissimo evening. So the next time that you’re in the area, make sure to drop by L’Incontro Italian Restaurant and treat yourself to a fine dining experience you won’t regret.L’Incontro Italian Restaurant is located at 207 Nicanor Garcia Street (formerly Reposo Street), Makati City (click here to view a map to the restaurant). They are open Monday through Sunday from 11:00am until 12 midnight. To reserve a table or book an event at L’Incontro Italian Restaurant, you can call them at (+632) 899-0635/38. NOTE: Effective August 6, 2012, L’Incontro Italian Restaurant will be opened from Tuesday to Sunday from 11:30am to 11:30pm. Their admin office will remain open on Mondays to accept reservations and inquiries.
Have you dined at L’Incontro Italian Restaurant? Share your experience by leaving a comment below.