Rustic and traditional southern Italian cuisine with a steaming hot sexy twist...
One of my favorite spots along Valero Street for many years, Il Ponticello, or "Ponti's" as we fondly called it, was always the place for a great meal and a few drinks. Make that a lot of drinks. And now it's getting a major makeover on the sexier side, with bolder, fresher flavors spearheaded by Executive Chef Panky Lopez.
Il Ponticello's wide range of Antipasti is an indication of the new and exciting menu, including the Portobello Alla Griglia (L), with thin strips of grilled Portobello mushrooms, Mozzarella di Bufala, smoked Ricotta, and poached cherry tomatoes drizzled with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. A good start, and it just gets better...
Start your dining experience with one of Il Ponticello's refreshing cocktails, like the Ponti Spritz (P 250), a blend of Aperol, grapefruit juice, lemon juice, passionfruit syrup and sparking wine. And just like old times, a few glasses gets you in the groove at Il Ponticello.
Executive Chef Panky Lopez then fires up the kitchen for the first of three pasta dishes, like the Crema de Tartufo (P 450), a hearty and comforting pasta dish with with Pappardelle noodles, cream, truffle paste, truffle oil, and Porcini mushrooms. The broad Pappardelle noodles are coated with the rich truffle and mushroom sauce for creamy and distinct nutty notes, adding that butter-like feel and flavor to the firm noodles. And I'm liking Il Ponticello's bolder and sexier flavors...
Gnocchi Amatriciana (P 390), with homemade Potato and Semolina Gnocchi, tomato sauce, thick cut Pancetta, topped with shards of Grana Padano cheese. The soft and chewy gnocchi give this dish a rustic and traditional flavor, enhanced by the sharpness of the thick and tart tomato sauce, the salty Pancetta and the bold flavors of the Grano Padano.
Lasagna Carbonara (P 420), homemade lasagna in a rich and thick Mozzarella cream, with Pancetta Tesa strips, and Grano Padano topped with an egg yolk. The richness of the cream sauce and the egg pack a serious flavorful punch. This dish isn't shy at all, with bold, creamy flavors upfront.
Next, Il Ponticello's signature pizzas were served, starting with the Pizza Tartufo (P 520), a rustic style pizza topped with a delicate misto of Tartufo and fresh mushrooms, mushroom cream sauce, Mozzarella, and indulgent truffle oil. The blend of mushrooms, Mozzarella, and truffle oil add rich layers of flavors in every bite. The rustic crust, with a very light char, completes the flavors.
Pizza Valdostana (P 520), the Chef's signature pizza, topped with Parma Ham, Gorgonzola cream, Mozzarella, and baby arugula, a personal favorite. The layers of Parma Ham add that distinct salty note that make you grab a second and a third slice. The intense and sharp flavors of the Parma Ham are perfectly balanced by the rich gorgonzola, mozzarella, and arugula. Pizza perfection right there. Sexy? Definitely.
Rotolo Originale (P 480), Il Ponticello's signature rolled pizza, stuffed with Mortadella, Ricotta, and tomato cream sauce topped with pesto. An Il Ponticello original, and still nothing quite like it with its light and crisp dough and flavorful stuffing. The Mortadella pork sausage just adds so much flavor in this rolled pizza, pairing well with the creamy ricotta and nutty pesto sauce.
Executive Chef Panky Lopez then heads back to the kitchen to prepare the next round of dishes. The new Il Ponticello boasts of an expanded kitchen, with a noticeably larger space. The additional space provides all the room Executive Chef Panky Lopez needs to execute his new menu, as his staff complete the next set of dishes.
Then, it's time for some serious eats. And some serious pork. Il Ponticello's impressive Signature Porchetta alla Romana (P 1,200 for 1kg whole roast/P 390 Solo, with two thick slices of porchetta served with Pilaf Rice), slow-roasted pork belly seasoned with fennel and garlic, served with Pommery Mustard sauce. Carved right before you, each thick slice releases the rich aroma of herbs punctuated by the crisp crackling sound as the knife goes through the Porchetta.
Each slice has a thin layer of perfectly crisp crackling, contrasting with the tender, juicy pork flavored with garlic and fennel. Subtle yet rich and delicate flavors, perfectly seasoned, and great on its own. Even better with the Pommery Mustard sauce, with a light sweetness and bite from the mustard.
Slow roasted for half a day, even longer, the flavors are fresh and clean, flavors that can only come from the long hours of slow-roasting. The dish is said to be a favorite of Emperor Nero, but who doesn't like roast pork belly? There's probably no sexier sight than a slab of slow-roasted pork belly on a wooden board...
But Executive Chef Panky Lopez isn't done yet. Seabass in Bottiglia (P 1,400), pan roasted Chilean Sea Bass in prawn broth, with mussels, clams, and Napoletana Piccante sausage served in a Mason Jar. Rich southern Mediterranean flavors in a bottle. Delicately poached, the tender sea bass almost melts in your mouth, as the rich and tart sauce with mussels, clams and sausage add to the medley of Mediterranean flavors. Elegantly plated on a tile slate, this one tastes as good as it looks.
Presto, grilled prawns with cherry tomatoes, fried basil, garlic confit, and Trofie pesto, elegantly plated. The fresh, plump prawns, lightly grilled, deliver a subtle briny sweetness, perfectly complemented by the nutty garlic, tart cherry tomatoes, and crisp fried basil leaves. A side of pasta with rich pesto completes the dish.
Flat Iron Steak (P 590), USDA Choice Flat Iron Steak with garlic mashed potatoes and a refreshing summer salad. The tender yet lean cut of premium beef is perfectly grilled with a juicy pink center, and just lightly seasoned with salt for pure beef flavors. The tart salad with a light acidic vinaigrette and fresh vegetables cleanses the palate as you go for another slice of beef. And the mashed potatoes, with its garlic notes, just rounds out this dish. Another personal favorite.
Il Ponticello also serves an equally impressive range of indulgent desserts, like the Tiramisu (P 290), with Savoiardi cookies, Zabaglione, Amaretto, and Ristretto dusted with cocoa powder. Paired with a cup of Italian coffee, perfect.
Other Italian desserts include the Cheesecake Panna Cotta (P 290/ L), a rich and smooth vanilla panna cotta with cheesecake crumble and caramel sauce; and Caramello Di Semolina (P 290/R), an Italian style bread pudding with white bread, Semolina, cream, butter, eggs, and caramel topped with ice cream.
And there's more...Il Ponticello's Dark Chocolate Panna Cotta with Salted Caramel (P 290), a rich 72% dark chocolate panna cotta drizzled with "Chocolate Soil", Caramel Cream, and Sea Salt...
...and Budino Al Cioccolato (P 390), an indulgent Chocolate Lava Pudding Pot with Vanilla Cream, Amarena Cherries, and Caramel Sauce. Each one a perfect way to cap your dining experience at the new Il Ponticello.
Leave the gun, take the cannoli. Il Ponticello's traditional Cannoli (P 290), with Ricotta Cream, dark chocolate morsels, and nuts stuffed in a crispy cinnamon pastry shell dusted with powdered sugar. Contrasting textures make this dish special, with the crisp shell and the creamy stuffing making you want more. From antipasti, pasta, pizza, and main courses to dessert, the new menu at Il Ponticello is definitely worth a second visit. And going back to Il Ponticello is once again fresh and exciting, and a whole lot sexier than what I remembered.
Il Ponticello's Executive Chef, Panky Lopez, recreates authenticity and tradition with bold and fresh flavors using the very best and premium ingredients. The new menu definitely raises the bar, with its elegant and modern interpretation of classic southern Italian cuisine. It's great to be back, and I'm liking the new Il Ponticello...
Il Ponticello Bar and Italian Restaurant is located at the Second Floor, Unit 203, Antel Corporate Centre, 121 Valero Street, Salcedo Village, Makati or call 553-9971 for inquiries and reservations.
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