Osteria Daniele: This New Upscale Italian Restaurant Serves Fine Food, Consummate Cocktails
I am often asked this: Where do you go for upscale Italian food in Manila? Somehow, the question always surprises me even if it shouldn’t. Italian food, after all, is the most mainstream of the great European cuisines in the Philippines and one would be hard-pressed to find a non-Asian restaurant that doesn't have a few token pastas on the menu, even at establishments that really shouldn’t. And while the current dining scene boasts a large number of mid-range and moderately priced Italian eateries, it holds true that when looking for a sophisticated restaurant specializing in high-end Italian fare, the choice thus far has been limited. But all of that is about to change.
Osteria Daniele is a fashionable Italian restaurant that ticks all of today’s essential boxes for a satisfying dining experience: fine food, cool and lavish interiors, consummate cocktails, and more.
In a highly anticipated wave of successive Italian restaurant openings, Osteria Daniele, from the Bistronomia Group, is the first to open its doors. Bringing the same level of energy and enthusiasm one has come to expect from the seasoned restaurateurs behind Las Flores, Rambla, and BCN, Osteria Daniele is a fashionable Italian restaurant that ticks all of today’s essential boxes for a satisfying dining experience: fine food, cool and lavish interiors, consummate cocktails, an accessible wine list, and agreeable service.
Just like its sister restaurants, competent bartenders preside over a well-thought-out cocktail menu offering Italian classics such as Bellinis, Negronis and the now the ubiquitous Aperol spritz, even beyond aperitivo hours.
Innovative tipples like the E’tuto Pepe, a dry and savory cocktail made with Cavalina grappa, Tio Pepe, fresh lemon juice, angostura bitters, and red bell pepper and the Paloma, a refreshing glass of tequila, Campari, grapefruit syrup, lemon bitters and prosecco, pair perfectly with the homey spuntini including focaccia, dry-cured coppa, with its lacy layers of sinew-like pork fat and salted beef bresaola livened with a squirt of fresh lemon.
Gin lovers will certainly enjoy the Rosita with Hendricks gin, Campari, rose syrup, Mancino Rosso, Cavalina grappa, and cardamom bitters; and for the purists, a selection of Italian vermouth enjoyed over ice is always a hit.
The wine list is extensive but not intimidating and takes diners around the wine-producing regions of Italy, including a few bottles from the now hot and hip Mount Etna area of Sicily. For those looking to enjoy a bottle of Italian sparkling, two great Prosecco makers, Bisol and Fantinel, have bottles on the list. Other old and new world wines are also available. In keeping with the osteria tradition of serving wine by the glass, a list of vino al bicchiere showcases a select array of red and white wines. All of which should be enjoyed at the bar because, oh, what a bar it is!
The old-school demilune bar counter
Soon to become its most Instagrammed feature, the old-school demilune bar counter is outfitted with towering wooden shelves and lined with spirits that happily show off their pretty shapes and labels through a mirrored backsplash.
Suspended above is a retro chandelier festooned with brass and glass orbs that anchor the room. Tall, comfortable chairs in moss-colored leather wrap around the bar while their wooden legs and brass feet rest above a decorative mosaic floor.
FEAST FOR THE EYES
The rest of the space is equally as pleasing to the eye. Characterized by its high ceilings and extra-large windows that look out into the city streets, the walls inside are covered in a pinkish paper that replicates an Italian faux finish.
The walls are covered in a pinkish paper that replicates an Italian faux finish.
Modern light fixtures rest against the walls and cast a bewitching glow, catching all of the wall covering’s idiosyncrasies. Nonuniform tables and chairs fill the room. Large leather banquettes are accessorized with cane while cozier booths are swathed in golden velvet. Contemporary chairs are covered in lovely fabrics of brocade and needlepoint.
Just as the interior features aim to seduce the old and new guard, the menu too succeeds in pleasing both. Those looking for modern cuisine will find it in the soft-as-a-strawberry spherical olives marinated in extra virgin olive oil or in the tuna carpaccio, decorated with slices of orange, celery, pine nuts, and dotted with basil mayo. Fresh burrata is brought to your table under a glass dome and is hidden under a cloud of smoke that does wonders for the cheese’s luscious velvety interior, as does the saltiness from the prosciutto and the salinity from the anchovies that come with it. This is the dish on the menu I will crave for in the weeks to come.
Spuntini, assorted cold cuts and cheese
For more traditional and rustic fare, I highly recommend the classic vitello tonnato, a thin layer of veal covered with a rich tuna sauce, and the charred polpo alla griglia served with a robust carrot orzotto which is also a standout.
Tuna Carpaccio with orange, tomatoes, pine nuts, and basil mayo
Polpo alla Griglia with roasted carrot orzotto
Smoked burrata with prosciutto and anchovies
All the pastas here are handmade in-house except for the bucatini carbonara, but that is hardly an issue, for once you bite into the long strands of firm noodles, coated ever so delicately in a sauce of egg yolk and pecorino, and taste the crunch of the fatty and flavorful guanciale, you let go of any preconceived notions that fresh is always best.
Other pastas that delight are the pappardelle topped with a hearty duck ragu and a creamy orecchiette tossed with bits of Italian sausage and bathed in a nduja sauce.
Pappardelle with duck ragu and red cabbage
The tangy risotto al limone could stand alone as a delicious main course even without the generous piece of seared foie gras that sits atop, and it would most definitely make the perfect accompaniment to the Osso Buco. Unlike the Osso Buco many may have become accustomed to, this rendition is richer and full of flavor. My fellow diners and I suspected there may be some cinnamon or nutmeg in the sauce, but the chef revealed it was the addition of tarragon to the bouquet garni that added dimension.
Orrecchiette with Italian sausage and creamy nduja sauce
Risotto al Limone
Osso Buco with gremolata
And there is absolutely nothing not to love about the Bistecca alla Fiorentina—a one-kilogram perfectly grilled wagyu T-bone. Delivered to the table pre-sliced and ready for sharing, the meat is barely seasoned so a spoonful of sea salt crystals accompanies the steak, allowing you to flavor the meat to your liking.
“But where is the pizza?" someone at my table asked just as we ordered our tiramisu and coffee. "It will be arriving soon,” responded Sergi Rostoll, one of Osteria Daniele’s owners. “Nothing too much, though. We have a pizza oven but we are still playing with it and we will probably only have around four different types.”
While I love a good pizza, I welcome its absence for the time being.
Lately, I have turned into a creature of habit, and on any given day, am primed and conditioned to order pizza and pasta, possibly an appetizer or dessert, and call it a day when I sit down to an Italian meal. Osteria Daniele has reminded me of all I have been missing.
Baba with mangoe and vanilla cream
Ground Level, Tower 1, High Street Corporate Plaza, 9th Avenue corner 26th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. Call Osteria Daniel at 09158745792.