It was a night of a long day filled with history and grandeur, a travel exploration through time, a journey back to the Old Manila days, some would say. It was an experience like no other and it was all thanks to Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar. As the sun has finally set and as the moon together with the stars were glowing and making our tour even more magical, La Bella Teodora was such a warm embrace to rest our tired, happy feet and fill our tummies with so much more than just delicious food.
Inspired from our National Hero’s mother, La Bella Teodora, a restaurant in Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, is of Italian cuisine as the chefs adopt the methods of modern Italian to food. We had a moment to chat with one of the chefs of La Bella Teodora, Chef Jason Stacey, in which he shared to us not only what they are currently offering, but also what they are cooking up in the near future.
Chef Jason Stacey, together with two other chefs, are a team of innovative and creative individuals who do their best in their craft as they want La Bella Teodora to tell the stories of the hardworking people in Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar as they deserve more than just recognition. The chefs had prepared us not only some of their bestsellers, but dishes that are also off the menu as they will be soon adding it in the coming weeks.
To begin with is La Bella Teodora’s Panzanella Salad with Marinated Cherry Tomatoes. It has a little bit of lettuce, but the idea of the theme of the Panzanella Salad are beans and more of croutons, which absorbs the vinaigrette that adds more flavor and scent of antipasto – which is usually a variation of olives, sausages, and artichokes – that goes nice with the vinaigrette. You can also add a dressing of your choice but, Chef Stacey suggests you try it as it is, so as to get the feel of how light it is and to better taste all the spices in it, and get to experience the different textures and elements of the whole dish.
Chef Jason Stacey’s goal for La Bella Teodora is to have a plantation, a little garden which they would connect to the restaurant so as to have more fresh ingredients, to have a farm to table kind of thing going on; basically, just to have everything made from scratch – from sauces, to bread, and even to pizzas.
Of course, as Italian cuisine is known for their pizzas, La Bella Teodora’s pizzas and calzones are what they could consider their staples. Also, they are proud of those because they cook it in a traditional brick oven that gives their dough an exquisite taste.
And so as speaking of pizzas, we got to try two of La Bella Teodora’s – Tuscany Doña Teresa Pizza and Garlic Mushroom Crème Pizza. Chef Jason Stacey explained how their pizza showcases simplicity, fresh ingredients, and balance so as each can be distinguished by its own characteristic flavor.
The Tuscany Doña Teresa Pizza is a balance of salty, sweet, and has a hint of richness in its flavor as it is slathered with fresh tomato sauce and topped with fresh ingredients that your palate will definitely savor.
While the Garlic Mushroom Crème Pizza, as the name implies, has a creamy mushroom taste to it, with a hint of garlic for more flavor. This one is hands down the favorite dish of our table as everyone had the time of their lives in every bite of every heavenly piece.
As La Bella Teodora considers their pizzas and calzones their staples, their signature dishes are their fresh pastas and dumplings. They don’t just want to push and highlight these dishes, but also they want to push more of their method as they encourage their diners to explore and try more, even just to experience their dishes for the first time because Chef Stacey’s method as a chef is to at least try something once.
With this, we got to try for the first time La Bella Teodora’s Shrimp Gnudi. At first, people mistakenly identify gnudi as mashed potato but it isn’t because it actually is a ricotta dumpling, cooked with a little bit of amber butter, which gives the dish a very aromatic, floral feel and a very soft and warm experience, palate wise.
Following this is Marinara Linguine, which is assorted seafood pasta with tomatoes and white wine sauce. This one is a classical dish of La Bella Teodora and is one of their bestsellers, which we totally are vouching for.
There definitely is more to La Bella Teodora as Chef Jason Stacey wants their menu to be changed probably every three months, while keeping some of their staples, to keep the idea fresh and moving, just like the actual Italian approach – which is seasonal. They want to add more of the different types of pastas such as ravioli and cannelloni.
Not only do they want to add more fresh pastas, but they also want to add a little bit more of seafood dishes, pork dishes, and hopefully even lamb dishes. However for our dinner, we got to try La Bella Teodora’s Mahi-Mahi with Citrus Risotto and Mesclum Greens and Pollo Picata.
Mahi-Mahi with Citrus Risotto and Mesclum Greens is a light, citrusy Italian dish with arugula salad that is really good considering all the texture that you would get to experience as the dish itself is much pleasant and not too overcooked.
Our last dish for the night is the Pollo Picata which is chicken stuffed with variations of fresh ingredients, almost like cordon bleu but more of a high-end version of it. This one was such a very nice dish to finish off our dinner as this is one of La Bella Teodora’s dishes that they will certainly be keeping.
For dessert, La Bella Teodora is aiming for more classical ones, but they are to give it a modern touch; such as they are currently doing a deconstructed panna cotta so as for it to be explored better. More from their upcoming menu, they are to offer not only Italian, but Belgian wines as well, so as to cater the full European experience some guests are looking for.
La Bella Teodora, as we have said, is inspired from Jose Rizal’s mother, Teodora Alonso Realonda y Quintos, so as to give homage to her. La Bella Teodora means The Beautiful Teodora – which in connection, the place is undeniably beautiful with a breathtakingly architecture and design that is perfect for intimate dinners as you will be serenaded by enthralling voices of live performers while you are taking pleasure in every dish elegantly prepared for you.