Italy via “La Gondola”

"Green, red and white…
These strips of colors a bright.
Pizza, and pasta al dente;
Wine are truly excelente!
A river cruise in a gondola,
A perfect date with your Bambina.
Experience love with your Amore,
While you whisper, “Ti Amo, Ti Amo, Mi Dolce…” 

I was daydreaming while writing these lines with a smile curved in my mouth, twitter-patted ‘til to the core of my spine, matched with twinkling eyes imagining the night sky. I fell in love with the idea of having a date in a gondola (that boat famous in Italy) with an Italian song on a background. Eventually, I was only zoning out – I was only seated in a fancy restaurant called, “La Gondola” located at the lower ground of Waterfront Hotel and Casino, Lahug, Cebu City.

A crossover of Medieval and Renaissance-inspired interiors, from a stained glass window to wine/liquor bar right at the middle of the restaurant, a bust sculpture of David and comfortable-looking wooden tables and chairs.  Classy lamps that romantically illuminate a relaxing atmosphere wrapped in yellow light.

Appetizer. Served with a Caprese Salad made of tomato, mozzarella and basil drizzled with balsamic dressing invoked a playful image in the mind. It was also pleasing to the eyes. At first glance, I had mistaken it for an ice cream; however, the taste took me off-guard. The soft mozzarella instantly melted in my mouth that had an almost bland taste but the basil gave it a distinct kick.

Mushroom Cappuccino Soup. The creamy-looking soup was a thumbs up. The thickness was just right and the taste was subtle. There was a certain balance between cream and salt. The Pepperoni-Salami Pizza did not disappoint my taste buds. Its thin crust topped with tomato, mozzarella and spicy Italian sausage enhanced with Tabasco sauce and catsup was enough for me to be transported in the land of authentic pizza – Italia.

Its Traditional Lasagna was a superstar! Layered with mozzarella and parmesan cheese, it was delectably cheesy topped with minced beef on each layer mixed with tomato and béchamel sauce. It was so appetizing that it was one of my best bets of lasagnas in town.

A truly wonderful dish of calamari, prawn, and mussel married with white wine sauce and garnished with basil. One could basically fall in love with Seafood Spaghetti.

The main course was fantastic, too. The oven-baked lamb’s meat was tender which was bettered with rosemary jus (a combination of shallots, garlic, rosemary, salt and meat stock reduced in high heat). It was this cuisine that I re-engaged with since the last time I tasted it in a foreign land some 4 years ago. In addition, the Polenta Rice Corn had me fascinated.

The Tiramisu in a sexy goblet glass and a cherry on top and some ultra-thin triangulated tasty white chocolates were enough for me to be awed. It was as if a finely-refined sophisticated lady passing by whom you couldn’t take your eyes off! The right blend of coffee, sponge cake, and cream cheese complemented the light taste of the lovely tiramisu!

Lemon Tart with Meringue. Cradled around the sweetened tart, the lemon pie rocked my palate of its unexpectedly sour taste. When I said unexpected, I meant it beyond the ordinary sour taste of lemon. It could have been better if the meringue on top was thick enough to compensate its acid taste. Though it was topped with cherry and dark chocolate, it was also garnished with round slices of lemons which eventually augmented the sour taste of lemon tart.

The ecstatic feeling when the liquid smoothly flowed in my throat was a total trademark of Red Rapture mocktail. It was a combination of cranberry, pomegranate and apple juices which delightfully gave the drink a passionate smooth taste. It left my tongue craving for some more Red Rapture.

As the gondola stopped over the wharf, and the Italian background serenade ended its last note, my short trip to Italy via La Gondola also came to a halt. The dreamy feel of being in Italy ended; however, the experience in La Gondola was something I was thankful about because right in front of me were authentic Italian cuisines – all mouth-watering and all savory. They were indeed, perfecto! 
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About Marie Angelique Villamor

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