After watching Eat Pray Love I started dreaming about living in Italy. After overdosing from Latinovela when I was kid, I started dreaming about learning the Spanish language. I’m not sure how this is going to work, but at least with Toni & Sergio Gastro Italiano, the combination does work. Toni & Sergio is an Italian gastro pub with a Spanish twist and it is one of the restaurants that you can check out when you visit the Grand Canal Mall in McKinley Hill, Taguig.
I joined my friends Michy (Dekaphobe) and Jerro (Gour Manila) in this food adventure. If you are curious who Toni and Sergio are, well they are brothers. Toni Iapino is a businessman who owned a few restaurants and pubs in Italy while Sergio Iapino is a popular TV director in Spain, Italy, and Argentina. The brothers’ love for Italian and Spanish cuisines were the inspiration for the T&S’s fusion concept.
T&S is established by Toni’s son, Giulius Ceazar Iapino, president of Eatalian Inc. It follows the success of one of their other business ventures, Parmigiano Ristorante Pizzeria at Resorts World Manila.
“We are targeting to expand our market. In Parmigiano, we serve business executives and families from the upscale homes. Here, we aim to please the middle class and their families who deserve good food and drinks while having good times with each other. We will be serving quality dishes that are affordable, but without any shortcuts,” said Giulius.
I haven’t been to Parmigiano, but who cares? I went to Toni & Sergio with an empty stomach, a clear indication of my excitement to sample their dishes. Here’s a rundown of the dishes that I’ve tried.
Black Ink Paella
We all know paella, that Spanish rice dish with all those toppings you could think of, sometimes chicken or beef, most of the time seafood. Whatever toppings it has, the first thing you would notice about the rice is that it is covered in red sauce. That’s good but it’s boring, so how about trying the one with black sauce? That’s right, black. T&S uses the black ink of squid for Black Ink Paella (PHP 425-USD 9.04). Not only does it look interesting, it is also exquisite. The consistency is not as sticky as the red paella but for me, it tastes better. The calamari was a delightful addition, but the cut was slightly smaller compared with those shown in the picture below. By the way, make sure to squeeze the lemon over it because it does wonders to the flavor.
Paella dela Casa
But if you prefer the traditional then you would love their Paella dela Casa (PHP 445-USD 9.46). It has prawns, mussels, boiled eggs, clams, chicken, chorizo, marinated artichokes, and black olives.
T&S Chicken Wings
That 24-hour marinating process may be the secret, or maybe it’s the spicy aioli bleu cheese and marinara that go with it. Whatever it is, it sure worked because T&S Chicken Wings (PHP 285-USD 6.06) doesn’t disappoint. It is served with coleslaw, some mayo and pesto.
Pizza Gamberetti con Rocula
They offer brick-oven pizza and if you like them thin and chewy, you will appreciate T&S’s version. The Pizza Gamberetti (PHP 380- USD 8.08) is perfect for you if like veggies on your pizza. It is made with red sauce, topped with pieces of shrimp, shreds of mozzarella cheese, and leaves of rocula (salad rocket).
If you like it simple with lots of cheese, then try their 5 Cheese (PHP 380- USD 8.08) pizza, that’s right, not three, not four, but five types of cheese: gorgonzola (veined Italian blue cheese), mozzarella (southern Italian cheese), pecorino (a hard and salty Italian cheese), parmigiana (a.k.a. parmesan cheese), and scamorza (Italian’s cow’s milk cheese). You may have it in white sauce or red sauce; we tried the former. According to one of the staff, he liked the red version better. Something to look forward to next time.
One thing I noticed about their pizza is that it tastes good regardless if its hot or cold. We weren’t able to finish the pizza so I had a takeaway. Some pizza don’t taste as good if you eat them the next day, but not T&S pizza. Just put them in the oven with a cup of water and they’re as good as newly cooked.
When you’ve had your fill, why not order a cup of joe? I don’t drink my coffee black but I’ve had a small sip of it sans the sugar and milk and it was awesome.
Better yet, why not try their iced coffee especially now that the weather is oppressive. Iced Ciocolacino (PHP 120-USD 2.55) is basically iced coffee infused with chocolate. The flavor is not as full-bodied as those you can find in more popular cafes, but it was good enough to merit a suggestion.
Still have room for desserts? Try their cakes-in-a-jar. Tiramisu (PHP 260-USD 5.53) or that traditional Italian dessert of layers of mascarpone cheese, lady fingers, and espresso and cacao powder is a good option. Most of the tiramisu I’ve had tastes more coffee than cacao. Don’t get me wrong, I love coffee, but there’s a reason we mix them with water you know. But on this one, the combination of the two flavors was impeccable.
But if there is one dessert I’d endorse it’s the Panna Cotta. T&S’s version is so far the best one I’ve ever had. Once you have a spoon of it, you wouldn’t want to share. It’s practically a jar of happiness; fleeting but memorable.
There are over 70 Italian and Spanish dishes on their menu but for the first-timers, they recommend that you try their brick oven pizza. I say don’t just stop with pizza, try their paella, try their chicken wings, and most of all, try their pannacotta for that complete T&S experience.
Toni & Sergio Gastro Italiano
G/F Venice Grand Canal Mall
Upper McKinley Road, McKinley Hill
Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City
Telephone nos.: (+63) 922-7547743/916-7221997