Strained friendships can be refreshed through the grandest gestures—a gift, a surprise appearance, a big favor answered. But sometimes, it's just through food. It seems to be the case, too, even for Philippine showbiz’ biggest names namely Kris Aquino and Vice Ganda. Last July 21, the Queen of all Media and the Unkaboggable Star with the first’s son Bimby Aquino Yap found themselves dining out at La Spezia MNL somewhere in the food haunt-filled Scout Area in Quezon City. This, at the night the Sisterakas stars reconnected following an unelaborated rift since 2015.
“It’s a place where people settle their differences,” part-owner Sean Yuquimpo could only post as a caption to the series of Kris-Vice photos he put on his own Facebook account.
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Of course, we think La Spezia was more than just a random option. When your resto gets picked by one of the most powerful women in the country, it must be good.
La Spezia didn’t disappoint when ABS-CBN Lifestyle dropped by for a visit. Like many QC-built dining delights, it prides itself more for the cuisine than the location or the crowd most Makati or BGC restaurants cling to as part of its branding. La Spezia being homey is an understatement—it’s located at a refurbished residence along the hushed Scout Lazcano, serving what Sean and his business partner, Chef Aaron Shiu, would like to reiterate as “authentic” Italian food.
“Let's say a carbonara. If you say carbonara, people would always think cream—which is not true. You call it alfredo. A carbonara is just made with egg and cheese. Put cheese and put egg, you make it into a sauce and then you add the pasta,” explained Sean, a graduate of Enderun Colleges who took his MBA at the Les Roches International School of Hotel Management in Switzerland. He worked briefly as a trainee at Shangri-La in Makati and in Malaysia, and then Assistant Manager at Cravings here in Manila.
“Minsan, nami-misunderstand lang natin yung (Italian) dishes. Yun yung tina-try naming gawin nang tama—so people would understand it more. May sense kami of educating the market din at the same time giving them the food that they think they want,” added Sean, whose partner Chef Aaron worked at a Michelin-starred restaurants in Hong Kong and France.
From the risotto to the bistecca alla Fiorentina to the truffle pasta with real black truffles down to the zeppole (Italian donuts in strawberry dip), La Spezia’s specialties only resonate this quest for authenticity. Yet, Sean and Chef Aaron don’t limit their gastronomical inspirations, changing up the menu in time for any season or market demand as quick as every two months.
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Yet, of how taste changes dynamically, La Spezia remains resolute with its goal: Serve food that’s so good it shocks. “Of course, some dishes are more authentic talaga that people wouldn't try it. So, for us as a business pa rin at the end of the day, we have to adjust. So, even if gusto namin solid authentic Italian kami, we just economically can't kasi, of course, we have to sell our dishes. So, we try to push things na kakaiba and things na would work. Balance din.”
“Like this one, it's new,” Sean would point to a plate serving a sphere of buffalo milk cheese, made from mozzarella and cream. The cheese was doused with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar of Modena DOP. “Burrata is usually made with basil, tomato, and then the burrata itself. Just like the Caprese salad. But for ours, we had corn kasi we think that it adds a certain sweetness to the dish. I mean, burrata has been there but in the metro scene, it's new. Once people have it, they’d be like, ‘Oh, kakaiba to ah!’”
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Photos courtesy of Sean Yuquimpo