Authentic Italian Dining at Lucia Ristorante

Italian is my ultimate comfort food, so when Hotel Celeste treated me to an amazing staycation which includes a dinner for two at its charming restaurant, Lucia Ristorante, I was incredibly thrilled. Chef Davide Lombardi brings his extensive knowledge and experience with both the Northern and Southern styles of Italian cuisine to the luxurious boutique hotel through Lucia, and with Lucia’s charm and flair, it cannot be denied that the two make a perfect pair.

Lucia is a semi-fine dining restaurant, and its interiors are just as stunning as the hotel’s, featuring earthy tones of brown, tawny, green, and beige. I loved the elegant chandeliers and lamps, which were as dramatic as they were aesthetic. A fancy divider separates the dining space from the hotel lobby, while the hand-painted “wavy” ceiling will surely catch the attention of any diner.

But while the interior design alone is enough reason to start a conversation, Lucia’s food will definitely keep you going. The menu is composed of authentic Italian dishes; Chef Lombardi has created an exquisite selection of starters, mains, and desserts. The name of the restaurant pays homage to his mother, who has passed on to him the passion of cooking authentic Italian meals. To complement these dishes, there is a fine selection of Italian wines that guests will surely enjoy.

The good thing about the way the restaurant was set up is that it can easily transform from a casual lunch and breakfast venue to a more intimate dinner setting. For instance, we got to try Lucia’s Pasta, Soup, and Salad All You Can (PhP399++) promo during lunch—a reasonably-sized buffet consisting of a live cooking pasta section, a salad section, and a soup section.

Guests can choose from a variety of freshly-made pasta (fusilli, penne, fettuccine, farfalle, etc.) then select ingredients from the spread like grilled chicken, mushrooms, seafood, and vegetables. An assortment of sauces is available (pesto, carbonara, pomodoro, alfredo, olive oil and garlic, to name a few), completing the diner’s make-your-own pasta experience.

Fresh fruit and vegetable choices fill the salad section, as well as an array of dressings. For the soup, one type is featured daily, such as Potato Blue Cheese, Chicken and Vegetable, Pumpkin, Creole Onion, Seafood Chowder, Tomato and Vegetable, and Forest Mushroom.

We enjoyed refilling our plates with our own choices for pasta, salads, and soup during lunch at the adjacent Bistro Lucia. This lunch promo (available from 12:00NN - 3:00PM, Mondays to Fridays) is a good deal especially if you’re a pasta lover, and if you’re working or living around Makati, you should definitely give this a try.
Left: Chicken Alfredo with Bacon; right: Pesto with Grilled Chicken 
For dinner, we settled into Lucia’s more intimate ambience. We were quite famished as we came from dance practice, so after getting seated we perused the menu quickly and placed our orders. While waiting, we were served some complimentary bread to munch on to keep the hunger at bay. Shortly after, the Crema di Funghi Tartufata (PhP190) came—a great starter, and I’m saying this not just because it has truffle. The flavor was balanced, although I must say that the soup could be smoother.

The Mozzarella di Bufala (PhP660) fared a lot better—I’m still craving for this one, in fact. This was fresh bufala mozzarella served with fresh tomatoes, arugula, and balsamic. The zesty and salty flavors kept me reaching for more.

If you like squid, you will enjoy the Calamari Fritti (PhP430): deep-fried squid rings served with a side salad and aioli. I liked the delicate batter enveloping the squid—not too crispy (I’m not that into crispy stuff) and oily.

A trip to Lucia isn’t complete without trying their pasta and pizza, so naturally we had to order some! The Paglia e Fieno (PhP390) was seriously delicious. The dish instantly tempts you at first glance with its two hues: orange and green. And once you fork some of it into your mouth, you know that this wasn’t all show but pure substance as well—the beef ragout and herbed butter assail the taste buds unapologetically.

The Taglierini Neri (PhP380), on the other hand, looked just as interesting; however, I was craving for a stronger squink ink flavor. Fortunately, the addition of fresh marinated salmon and broccoli made it more appealing.

On the other hand, I have nothing bad to say with regards to Lucia’s pizzas. The Quattro Formaggi (PhP490) was simple and rich with its composition of 4 cheeses: provolone, gorgonzola, fontina, and mozzarella. If you’re a cheese lover, you need to try this. The crust is extra-thin, nicely crisp, and non-greasy. I think I had four slices of this, LOL!

The Al Salumi (PhP490) was almost as good, a treat to hardcore carnivores. This was laden with Italian meats like coppa, prosciutto, salami, Milano, and mortadella—a true Italian pie. A little on the salty side, but I actually like my pizza salty. Now I’m craving for this and some beer to go along with it.

For mains, we shared a Bistecca con Salsa Tartufata (PhP1,100/300g), which was a tender USDA rib-eye steak laden with truffle cream sauce. The portion was generous and perfect for sharing (especially if you had already consumed a lot of pasta and pizzas, LOL). The meat was nicely done, the sauce adding a rich layer to the sumptuous dish. This was served with side vegetables—tasty asparagus and zucchini!

Desserts were nothing short of remarkable. My friend ordered the milk-flavored gelato, and we ADORED it—pure sex and bliss in the mouth! I’ve never tasted milk as delicious as this. The cheese-flavored one was also good, but the milk was so exquisite that I kept swiping at my friend’s cup and almost forgot I had my own.

Oh and you have to try their Tiramisu (PhP220)! Simply exquisite!

For drinks, we tried the Watermelon Shake and the Apple Carrot Juice, which was refreshing and delicious. If you happen to visit during happy hour (3:00PM - 8:00PM), enjoy Lucia’s beer and cocktail selections at 50% off. If only my office was near Lucia, I would certainly drop by during this period.

Lucia’s price point is a little on the steep side, but the quality of the food more than justifies it. Not to mention the service, which Lucia (and Hotel Celeste) takes very seriously. The servers are courteous and efficient; I don’t know how they do it, how they manage to arrive at the exact moment when you need or about to need something. They’re incredibly friendly too!

For a taste of authentic Italian, head over to Lucia Ristorante in Hotel Celeste and indulge in its sumptuous selection of delicate appetizers, ingenious pasta creations, awesome pizzas, hearty mains, and exquisite drinks and desserts. Whether it’s a casual lunch or an intimate dinner you’re looking for, the charming and stylish restaurant definitely has something suitable for your gustatory needs.

Lucia is also open for functions and private meetings. For inquiries, call (02) 836-0023 or 0916-422-0212.

Lucia Ristorante
G/F Hotel Celeste, #2 San Lorenzo Drive cor. Arnaiz Ave., San Lorenzo Village, Makati City
Budget: PhP600 and up/head

What's your favorite Italian restaurant? Have you tried Lucia? Shoot a comment in the Disqus feed below!

My meal was sponsored by Lucia Ristorante. All opinions, however, are my own.

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