Pia de la Fuente-Kasilag and Paolo de la Fuente
BF Homes seems to have become an incubating ground for restaurant concepts of almost every type, with new restos mush- rooming along the length of Aguirre seemingly overnight. It's great for us residents to be sure, but I can only imagine the anxiety of current restaurant owners as the competition heats up. Who will last? Who will break out of BF and make it in Makati, or Malate, or Timog? One of the homegrown concepts I'd take a bet on is Mediterranean-inspired restaurant Pito & Mita, which opened doors around nine months ago.
We'd been hearing good things about this restaurant for some time, so it was with great anticipation that Cat and I went to try it out. Everyone recommends the Spinach Artichoke Dip with Melba Toast, so we tried that, while I got the Eggplant Lasagna and Cat the Parmesan-Crusted Baked Fish. All three are among Pito & Mita's bestsellers, co-owner Paolo de la Fuente tells me, and I soon see why.
Spanish Artichoke Dip
The Spinach Artichoke Dip is light and creamy, with a subtle and somewhat smokey flavor; I suspect they roast the garlic they put in it, and they put in just the right amount, enough to give it a kick but not so much as to overwhelm the delicate spinach and artichoke. I want chef Pia (de la Fuente-Kasilag, Paolo's sister) to start bottling this so I can have it on crackers when reading late at night! Add their sauces and dressings, too, that they make from scratch.
The Eggplant Lasagna is also a must-try, whether you're a vegetarian or a dyed-in-the-wool carnivore like myself. I love meat; I want the taste of meat with practically every meal; but as with Indian cuisine, I can go vegan on this dish and not miss the meat at all. The serving is quite generous, and though this is indeed a meatless dish, the hearty eggplant-tomato sauce and baked cheese crust together with the pasta make this a real belly-filler. Order this to share if you're a light eater.
Parmesan-Crusted Baked Fish
And if I thought the lasagna was good, the Parmesan-Crusted Baked Fish was even better (although Cat couldn't rave enough about the lasagna). This cream dory fillet was baked just right, so the flesh was firm yet melt-in-your-mouth tender, the whole thing crusted in a crisp thin shell of Parmesan cheese. Better yet, while this dish can be served with a side of rice, we had it with the Potato Gratin. Double the cheese is double the fun in my book, and when half of that is on baked potato I can get really mellow!
We may have gotten the crowd favorites but Pia isn't resting on her laurels but is constantly adding new dishes like their newest appetizers, Mushroom Alajillo, Shrimp Gambas & Assorted Grilled Sausages, and a third soup, Cream of Pumpkin. They have started to branch out to catering, just needing a two-week's notice from interested customers.
The secret behind Pito & Mita is chef Pia Kasilag's touch with her old family recipes. "A lot of what we serve in Pito & Mita is the food we grew up with at home," Paolo reveals. The de la Fuentes, it turns out, are a family of foodies with a special love for Spanish and Italian cuisine. After serving a stint as flight attendant in Northwest Airlines, Pia returned to set up the restaurant with Paolo, bringing in family favorites such as the Sopa de Pamplina, a Spanish-inspired soup that's the family's traditional Christmas soup; the Eggplant Lasagna; the Steak Salpicao; the Sicilian Chicken Salad; and the lemon-flavored Moringa juice that they serve as one of the house's recommended drinks. Cat and I washed down our meal with the Moringa juice, and found it very refreshing indeed -- fragrant, lemony, and not at all bitter as you might fear something made from malunggay might be.
And this I think is the reason Pito & Mita will be around for a while. Simple, hearty, delicious food, familiar enough for anyone to get into yet with that unique touch from recipes incubated in family tradition, and all that served _healthy_.
When we asked what has been their best experience so far, Pia said it was hearing rave reviews. "We never know what to expect from business so it's nice to hear good reviews especially from walk-in customers," she smiles. She can deservedly add this review to their growing list good feedbacks.