Everyone who's been to San Juan, La Union lately may find the ambiance too cosmopolitan already—the restaurants and bars are chic and expensive; the crowd is young and urban; the overall experience is like a weekend frolic in Poblacion, Makati only set on the coastline. Admittedly, San Juan at present isn't the type one drives to for a peaceful escape, as city dwellers whoosh here for the "scene" rather than the sea.
Yet five minutes away from all the surfing and partying, Amare La Cucina observes that evasive sense of quietude. Amare, from the syllables making up the names of owner Edmark Bustos and his siblings Alvin and Marianne, is the signature Italian resto of La Roca Villa Resort Hotel on Surfer's Road, Urbiztondo. Yes, it's the third after the Amare La Cucina you know in Baguio and in Kapitolyo, Pasig, and might just be the best among the rest mostly for its beautiful location.
Amare in San Juan playfully follows a Mediterranean design. The windows and doors arch high, welcoming the breeze and light into the setting. The walls shine in white with accents of blue, inviting a vibe of cool and calm. Tables are also situated outside of the main resto, for guests to enjoy a little bit of the sun al fresco. Farther, a spot of rocks leads to a table for two—for couples to dine far from onlookers with the La Union sunset as their view.
Amare in San Juan doesn't differ at all from its predecessors when it comes to the menu. It still boasts of its Neapolitan-style dishes (cooked in wood-fired brick oven), most of which are pizza and barbecues guests may watch as it's cooked on the spot. (Swipe through the gallery to see more!)
It's then an experience groups usually find diverting, far from the noisy, almost urbanized neighborhood the formerly free and easy San Juan now finds itself as, says Amare La Cucina manager Zita Liban.
"Apart from the food we serve, I think there's not a lot of sit-down restaurants in the San Juan area. (Amare) is very laid-back. Families and friends would just come here and dine in the quiet."
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Photography by Vyn Radovan