Saturday, March 17, 2012

Don Limone at BF Homes Parañaque

I went home to Las Piñas for the weekend, which was a nice change of pace from the usual weekend in the city. Staying at Jericho's, we were busy working on a project we're hoping to get off the ground by June, and I was happily mooching off the home-cooked meals and sneaking in the occasional peanut butter binge (Y U No have crunchy peanut butter?!).

We were starving by dinner, but didn't quite know where or what to eat, and ended up cruising around BF Homes Parañaque, the foodie mecca of the South, scoping out the new places that had popped up in the past few years. I haven't gone down South for over a year and was surprised at all the new hole-in-the-wall restaurants that had sprung up on Aguirre Avenue.

I was leaning towards trying Al Shams initially (that's a home-cooked meal in my book), or one of the Korean joints (the Korean restaurants seem to have tripled since the last time I was there), but J spotted a sign that said 'Great Cheesecakes', and that was the end of the discussion. I saw the roasted chicken with potato wedges picture they had on the tarpaulin outside, and that did it for me, too. What it is with me and chicken?

Don Limone Grill was practically empty when we came in, which I liked (because I hate crowds). Tacky decor aside, the home-cum-restaurant had more of a bistro vibe with the red wooden shutters, red-and-white table cloth, café chairs, and obligatory overgrown hedges spilling out and over the fence.

After perusing the menu, we ordered half a Roasted Chicken (P295) and a BBQ Chicken Calzone (P145).  The waitstaff warned us that the calzone would take a while, as the chef made everything from scratch. Stuff like that from a hole-in-the-wall is what we want to hear! If the calzone dough still needs to be rolled out, it's got to be good!

I was thinking of ordering a pasta or pizza dish as well, but found the prices too expensive, especially for a little known restaurant with A Veneto a couple of doors down (and their portions are pretty generous, too). This wasn't Va Bene - heck, their pasta and pizza dishes aren't even that expensive, and they make everything from scratch, plus the overhead cost of being located in Makati.

I ordered their House Iced Tea, which I was sorely disappointed to find out tasted more like sago't gulaman. I had wanted to order a cocktail for when our food arrived, but the fake iced tea was such a turn off (and the barista looked a bit dubious, I wasn't sure if she'd know what 'on the sweet side' meant). Not a great way to start the night.

We were served a complimentary appetizer of olive Focaccia bread with an olive oil and balsamic vinegar dip. The olive oil was the cheap kind and the ratio of balsamic vinegar to olive oil was 2:1. I didn't notice it at first, dipped a piece of bread in, and took a bite. Wow, that shiz was sour! I asked the waitstaff for some more olive oil and Parmesan cheese shavings so I could fix the damn thing. A lot more olive oil and a handful of Parmesan cheese shavings later, and we could appreciate the Focaccia bread a lot more, even asking for seconds.

The Roasted Chicken was the first entrée to come out. Marinated in Don Limone's special herbs and spices, served with lemon roasted potatoes and honey-glazed carrots - it was awesome! The skin was roasted to a nice, golden brown, the herbs and spices married with the honey glaze, sticking to the skin. The meat was soft and moist, and full of flavor, with the oven roasted potato wedges and honey glazed carrots being the perfect partners to the dish.

The BBQ Chicken Calzone was served a few minutes later - shredded chicken in red wine bbq sauce and caramelized onions, topped with mozzarella, and wrapped in home-baked bread with pesto on the side. There was no wrong way of eating this baby - pop it in your mouth as is, smother it with pesto first, or eat it in layers - this was the bomb! The chicken just soaked in all the goodness of the red wine, and the caramelized onions helped to bring out all the intricate flavors of the dish. The dough was fresh and oh-so-soft, with the mozzarella being the delicious glue that held everything together. The pseudo-pesto was quite sweet (what is pesto without the nutty flavor?), something I'd never eat on pasta, but was perfect for the calzone.

We had chosen Don Limone because of the promise of excellent dessert after our meal, but after the iced tea and appetizer incident we had second thoughts and skipped the Blueberry White Chocolate Cheesecake (P255) - we just found it a bit too expensive for one slice of cheesecake (even if they don't stiff you on the cream cheese). Maybe next time when there's something to celebrate?

Overall, Don Limone makes for a great date place - it's away from the hustle and bustle of the bars along Aguirre, the bistro set-up is quite romantic, they seem to have a nicely stocked bar for cocktails and an okay wine list, by the looks of it, all of their platters are great for sharing (as it's the Italian way), it takes a while for the dishes to come out, which gives you more time for small talk, and you can't go wrong with cheesecake for dessert. Hopefully, there's an espresso machine hidden in the kitchen somewhere and you can have a really good cup of coffee with your cake, as well.

I only wish they'd train their staff a bit better. Considering the price of the food, location, and the restaurant being relatively obscure (Case in point: we were the only customers there that evening and it was a Saturday night), I expected at least the service to be flawless - it was far from it (not the Italian way). There's a lot of promise in Don Limone, and - price-fright aside - I would probably be mucking around there again, at least for the roasted chicken and calzone.

Don Limone Grill
199 Aguirre Avenue,
BF Homes, Parañaque
+63 2 345 1803