Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Family Feast at Trio

Italian-style dining for friends and family
published in Appetite Magazine, August 2011 issue.

When I think Italy, I think food.  To go to Italy without getting a taste of Italian cuisine is tantamount to culinary blasphemy.  Italy’s food bible The Silver Spoon actually calls eating “a serious matter in Italy.”    Just like us Filipinos who can’t resist a family feast, Italians also thrive on good company, good wine and good food.

I didn’t have to go far to get a taste of Italy.  It took just one ride to the Fort to discover the spirit of a hearty Italian meal in the ristorante Trio.  Classy yet comfortable, Trio is what it markets itself to be – the perfect place for gatherings Italian (or you could say, Filipino) style.  In fact, the whole place which seats 140 can be reserved for parties or company functions.

Managing Director Ian Palabyab says that other restaurants claiming to be Italian would also be pricey.  Trio meals, to my delight, served huge portions at reasonable prices.  Aside from the single serving, the recently upgraded menu captures the essence of an authentic Italian meal – that is, family-sized helpings of yummy no-nonsense Italian food which could serve three or four people.

Given the eight-year track record of Trio, I was surprised to learn that the kitchen was under the direction of a young chef.  Don’t let his youth fool you though.  26-year old Corporate Chef Benny Liboro trained under the strict supervision of several chefs, aside from being schooled in an Australian culinary school.  His resume is a tour on world flavors as he has worked in Greek, French and Japanese restaurants.  This includes one of Perth’s famous eateries, Etro Bistro, where he was supervised by French Chef Patrick Panier. 

Talking to Chef Benny would already give you a foretaste to a Trio dish. Confident and vigorous in his speech, Chef Benny exemplified the robustness of a simple yet filling meal.  He tells us that Italian food is actually simple. Authentic Italian food uses light ingredients which can fill you up, without making you feel heavy.  Although I was excited to try the main courses, I couldn’t pass up on the Trio Salad (P275, P595) which was a generous serving of fresh mesclun greens topped with dried cranberries, candied walnuts, gorgonzola and raspberry vinaigrette.  

Chef Benny’s love for food began with his love for eating.  He remembers his dad feeding him Dominoes pizza when he was young. Now, his dad doesn’t need to deliver the pizzas to him anymore. Benny makes them!   I especially like the fire-baked Capriciossa thin crust pizza (P255) which had toppings of salami, smoked ham, mozzarella, basil, tomatoes, olives, mushrooms and eggs. 

Some of the dishes which are said to be single serving could arguably feed two people.  Take the Bistro Steak (P445, P995) for example. This juicy chunk of US Angus Beef is thick, tender, and served with a huge helping of garlicky home-made mashed potatoes and vegetables. 

Of course, we cannot talk about Italian food without thinking about pasta. If you want the perfect light pasta dish to complement the heavier meat dishes, I would also recommend the Vongole (P295,P695).  This is simple linguine drizzled with the white wine oil and topped with fresh clams, diced tomatoes and parsley.

My favorite dish would be the Al Forno Shrimps (P495, P895) which translates to four big mouth-watering shrimps covered with melted parmesan. Now this dish, you would want to finish on your own. The shrimps are oven-baked thermidor style and served with the staple side dishes of mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables.  The family-sized serving would include around 12-14 shrimps.

 I remember Ian saying that they don’t want people to come to Trio for the promos; they want people to come because of the dining experience.   Trio’s happy hour, every hour – buy 1 take 2 cocktails – may be added motivations to get your appetite for Italian food going. But the Al Forno shrimps and other surprises from Chef Benny are definitely the reasons for me to come back. Next time, they can expect the whole family to dine with me, Filipino style.

Trio is located at 2nd Level, Fort Pointe Bldg., Fort Bonifacio Global City Taguig, Metro Manila. For information and reservations phone (2)8841601.

You might still be able to grab back issues of Appetite August 2011 in selected newsstands