For the Rebellious Palate: Restaurante Pia Y Damaso

In the heart of Greenbelt is a quirky restaurant serving up Filipino-Spanish specialties, aptly labeled “subversive Filipino cuisine”. Restaurante Pia Y Damaso, whose name sounds as intriguing as it looks, dishes out Filipino food with a twist. It rides on a scandalous, tabloid-worthy concept derived from Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere: the idea that Maria Clara was actually the child of Pia, wife of Kapitan Tiyago, and Padre Damaso. Clearly, this is a topic that would fire up any PI 100 (Rizal’s Life and Works) class, which I slept through my senior year in UP Diliman, but I digress. Pia Y Damaso seeks to present the idea of colonial Philippine food.

True to form, the interiors looked like an ancestral home, reminiscent of the Spanish colonial period—yes, the kind you would see in a Joel Torre movie. I loved the white-and-tan (maize?) color scheme: inviting and relaxing. On one corner of the dining space sits the dessert chiller, which entice guests with sumptuous-looking cakes; so sad I wasn’t able to try one.

It’s totally weird that I didn’t even order a cake when they were all showing themselves off from the glass display at the restaurant’s façade. Clearly, I wasn’t in my right mind that day.

Anyway, my food buddy Renato (sounds colonial, LOL) and I definitely got excited at the idea of eating some paella that night, so the only decision we had to argue about was what other dishes to share. In the end we chose one pasta dish and asked the server to recommend a good main dish.

Everything here is well-designed and well-thought of. Look at the menu!!!
The Creamy Tinapa, Asparagus and Fish Fillet Pasta seemed like the best choice, but when I poked into it, I was a bit disappointed. It was delicious, but the flavor of the tinapa (smoked fish) was overwhelming—not to mention the scent—and the slightly runny creamy sauce did nothing to balance it. I should’ve gone with the Fig, Apples, Pinenuts, and Roasted Garlic Pasta, my first choice. It seemed safer—not that I’m a fan of “safe” food, but you get what I mean. This is what I get for not trusting my first instinct (yes, I use it when deciding among a myriad of options is headache-inducing)!

Creamy Tinapa, Asparagus, and Fish Fillet Pasta, P300
The server’s recommendation was the Roast Chicken with Sherry and Pimiento. A quarter of a chicken, with garlic (lots of it), Spanish paprika, sherry, olives and many other unknown herbs and spices—unknown to my mouth, at least. It was beautifully seasoned; every bite was an explosion of flavor. I actually loved it! Worth the price, if I may say. I don’t know how they managed to infuse the flavor into every strand of chicken. Amazing!

Roast Chicken with Sherry and Pimiento, P375
Accompanying this delicious chicken dish was the Paella Valenciana: a delightful mix of organic rice, chicken, pork, fish fillets, prawns, mussels, chorizo, and peas. I like paella, whoever invented it is a genius, and Pia Y Damaso’s surely did not disappoint. If anything, I only wished I had an entire caldero of it. Haha!

Paella Valenciana, P450
To finish off our meal, we had the Davao Malagos’ Goat’s Milk Leche Flan.

OK, here’s the thing with eating out in Filipino restaurants: I tend to compare everything to my grandmother’s cooking. Only few have been ranked as being better, let me tell you. Among all of my lola’s dishes, my favorites are the kare-kare and leche flan. I don’t eat kare-kare outside because most renditions are disgusting pieces of shit, and it was only in Golden Cowrie in Cebu that I actually ate one not created by Wonder Lola. The leche flans sold around, I tend to skip, lest I get diarrhea. Pia Y Damaso’s version is an exception.

I fucking loved it.

I would be willing to travel all the way to Greenbelt right now just to eat their leche flan. I would be willing to pay double. I would be willing to skip the paella and the chicken and whatever so that every inch of my stomach’s space would be reserved for this leche flan.

Damn, I can’t even describe it. What a useless blogger I am!

I’m not saying you should order it but it surely made me wonder how their cakes and other desserts must taste like. Gosh I’m the stupidest diner in the world.

If you’re in Makati, specifically in the Greenbelt area, and looking for a place to indulge in modern Filipino cuisine, Restaurante Pia Y Damaso is IT. Whether it’s traditional Pinoy comfort food you’re craving or some Spanish dishes you’ve grown familiar to, Pia Y Damaso can provide them with spectacular quality. Grab several friends so you could order a variety and share, and learn from me and don’t forget to order dessert.

Subversive. Rebellious. You might be wondering if Pia Y Damaso succeeded in living up to their tagline, “subversive Filipino cuisine”. Damn right, it did.

I’m planning another visit to Damaso, who’s with me?

Budget: Around PhP1000-PhP1500 for two people (starter, main dish, paella, dessert to share)

Restaurante Pia Y Damaso
2/F Greenbelt 5, Ayala Center, Makati City
(02) 729-5511
Menu: click here

What is your favorite Filipino restaurant? Can you point me into a place serving awesome leche flan? Blast off in the comments section!

pepe samson

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