Sunday, January 19, 2020

Take the Cannoli: Francesco's Opens at BGC Corporate Center

Take the cannoli. And the pizza. And the pasta too. Francesco's has all the classic Italian favorites, each one prepared the old-fashioned way. And it's now open at Bonifacio Global City...

Since the days he headed the kitchens at Edsa Shangri-La's Paparazzi, Italian Chef Francesco Rizzo has seen the local culinary scene grow and blossom. The timing just seemed right. The passionate Italian then opened his very own restaurant that bears his name, Francesco's, serving dishes he grew up with for a uniquely authentic Italian dining experience. The success of that first restaurant in San Juan then led to the opening of a second at the heart of Bonifacio Global City. Made from scratch authenticity using the finest and freshest ingredients remain at the heart of Francesco's tasty offerings. Take the cannoli. And everything Italian at Francesco's... 

Located at the Ground Floor of BGC Corporate Center, Francesco's brings the same authentic Italian flavors of his first restaurant in San Juan to the busy commercial and business district of BGC. Just like his first restaurant, Francesco's in BGC exudes that same cozy warmth that will make you feel right at home the minute you enter.  

The light yet colorful pastel shades and wood tones contrast with the vibrant tones of the brick walls and lush upholstered corner seating. A mural captures the vibe at Francesco's, it's all about real and flavorful food prepared the traditional old-school way for bold hearty flavors.

Drawing inspiration from his Italian roots, the menu reflects Chef Francesco Rizzo's own culinary journey from his family's home kitchen to his wealth of experience heading the kitchens of some of the world's prestigious hotel properties. Chef Francesco Rizzo prepares each dish without any short cuts using the best ingredients. This uncompromising approach to flavors is seen, and tasted, with each dish at Francesco's. His restaurants, after all, bears his name and he's not about to change his culinary style.  

Take Chef Francesco Rizzo's Caprese Sbagliata (P 530), a classic and refreshing buffalo mozzarella salad with tart and juicy imported Roma tomatoes, garden-fresh and crisp greens, artichokes and roasted bell peppers. The deceptive simplicity of the dish delivers both textural contrasts and vibrant flavors that just pops in your mouth with its richness. 

The creamy buffalo mozzarella is tempered by the Roma tomatoes for balanced notes, followed by the clean and crisp greens capped by the smoky sweetness of the roasted peppers and the indulgent nutty hints of olive oil. There's a lot at play in this one dish, yet each distinct note complements the other perfectly.

Inspired by his mother's very own recipe, the Le Polpette (P 460) is Chef Francesco Rizzo's ode to comforting and nostalgic flavors. The savory richness of the meatballs are balanced by the fresh and tart tomato sauce while the Grana Padano cheese completes the flavors.

And that sauce is the real deal. Don't forget to mop it all up with the bread.

The Vitello Tonnato (P 560) is a delicately poached veal loin thinly sliced with a dab of creamy tuna sauce and assorted greens. The pairing of meat with a seafood sauce is new to me, there's always something new to discover at Francesco's.

A bite of the fork-tender veal drapes the palate with its deep savory notes, while the tuna sauce brings subtle hints of fresh briny flavors. The flavors are delicate, even nuanced, and light on the palate. Other tasty starters at Francesco's include the Insalata di Pasta (P 460), Polipo or grilled octopus (P 560) and Tagliere di Prosciutto (P 680). Francesco's also offers sandwiches and Panini.

And that's just for starters. Chef Francesco Rizzo orchestrates the symphony of flavors with even bolder flavors as the mains were served...

The crisp crust with its charred blisters already tells you this is one serious pizza. The Parma Pizza (P 530) with creamy Mozzarella, prosciutto di Parma, arugula, shaved Parmesan and cherry tomatoes combine for that flavorful burst from the very first bite all the way to the last.

The distinct notes of the prosciutto and mildly spicy hints of the fresh arugula are balanced by the rich Mozzarella, rounded out by the Parmesan shavings and cherry tomatoes. Yet the varied and contrasting flavors are fresh and clean coming together in a seamless blend.  

And that last slice is gone way too soon...

The Francesco (P 530) is a fully loaded option with tomato, Mozzarella, mushrooms, fresh sausage, roasted bell peppers and Gorgonzola. In contrast with the Parma with its sharp yet light notes, the Francesco is a heavy hitter packed with so much flavor.

The cheese was still bubbling when the Francesco Pizza was served, fresh from the ovens. The blend of sausages with mushrooms give it a savory punch with the roasted bell peppers adding just a whisper of subtle sweetness. The Mozzarella ties all the flavors together, punctuated by the distinct flavor of Gorgonzola. Other pizza variants at Francesco include the classic and traditional Margherita (P 530), the Tartufata (P 530), a truffle flavored white pizza and assorted cheeses and Fumo (P 530) with smoked Scamorza cheese, spinach and mushrooms.

The elegant Seabass (P 1,080) with oven-roasted seabass, olive tapenade and topped with fresh greens on Sardinian Fregula cooked in a seafood broth is the perfect option for a light and satisfying healthy meal. The seabass just melts in your mouth releasing its mild sweet notes, perfectly complemented by the sharpness of the olive tapenade. The Fregula pasta, small balls made from semolina dough, is soft with a silky smooth texture delivering briny flavors from the crustacean broth with each bite. Francesco's offers a variety of pasta dishes including Spaghetti Puttanesca (P 480), Fettucine (P 540) with pancetta and truffle cream, Linguine (P 480) with basil pesto and prawns, Fusilli (P 540) with prosciutto and zucchini and Pollo Alla Cacciatora (P 580) served with fettucine Alfredo.

You'll also find another traditional Italian pasta dish, the Orecchiete (P 480) or ear-shaped pasta (R) draped in broccoli puree with sausage, sun-dried tomatoes and Pecorino cheese. A heavier meal option is the Risotto (P 580) topped with slow-cooked beef cheek (L) or the Ossobuco (P 1,280) with braised veal shank on saffron risotto.

Blame it on Francis Ford Copolla's cut classic, but take the Cannoli (P 480). Chef Francesco Rizzo recreates the dessert classic of crisp tube-shaped pastry dough filled to the brim with Ricotta cheese, candied fruits, chocolate chips and pistachios. Elegantly plated, the soft crunch of the pastry dough with the smooth and creamy ricotta by Chef Francesco Rizzo is clearly one of the best in the metro. 

And just like that line spoken by Clemenza to Rocco after the hit on Paulie, you'll definitely take the cannoli. That's one legit cannoli. And Chef Francesco Rizzo just won't have it any other way. Other sweet options include the Tiramisu all Amaretto (P 420), a traditional Italian dessert with coffee and almond liqueur...

...and the Panna Cotta (P 420), a cream based dessert with yogurt honey topped with berry compote. Craving for gelato? Francesco's got that covered. Enjoy your gelato by the scoop (just ask the servers for the day's fresh selection) or indulge in their decadent gelato creations like Chocoholic (P 490), Affogato (P 460) and Peach Melba (P 490).

A light lunch, a sumptuous dinner or an afternoon snack, Francesco's by Chef Francesco Rizzo is the place in BGC where you take the cannoli and everything Italian...

Francesco's is located at the Ground Floor of BGC Corporate Center, 30th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City or call 8281-1285 for reservations and inquiries.

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