For when you're hankering for some panizza this side of the metro...
I've been meaning to try Mona Lisa for a long time now, and when the opportunity presented itself (we were just whiling away the time in Alabang before I had to pick up my daughter), my mom and I half-dragged my dad to an Italian lunch.
The place was pretty much deserted save for a couple of tables, one occupied by ladies who lunch, and the other by a group of corporate guys. It was bright, with the sunshine streaming in through the picture windows. The formality that comes with the goblets and folded linen napkins didn't bode well with the mustard-colored tablecloths. Were they trying to go for gold to match the menu? Maybe I just prefer the pristine white ones that I'm used to seeing at other restaurants; thus, looking at this color made me cringe a bit.
While perusing the menu littered with Italian terms, my dad muttered about not understanding anything on it, and told us to just order for him since he had no patience for reading the descriptions after each dish title. I figured we'd get an order of pizza and pasta, and just share everything. The prices were a bit steep than usual, but after the waiters placed our dishes on the table, the portions were big enough to make them justifiable.
We started with bread and spreads, as is customary in most Italian restaurants. I alternated between the pesto and pomodoro, skipping the cream that did nothing to enhance the surprisingly soft toasted bread. The Bruschetta is just like an elevated version of the aforementioned complimentary starter, with some finely chopped fresh basil scattered on diced tomatoes crowding on top of toasted ciabatta. I tried to catch the slivers of parmesan with each bite as drops of extra virgin olive oil escaped from the corners of my mouth.
A large platter of Linguine Alla Carbonara holds a party of pancetta and Italian sausage in a pool of egg yolk cream sauce, garnished with parsley. It is indeed, as the description promised, creamy, and the kind that entices you to take one more bite after the supposedly last. I have no predilection for peppery Italian sausages, however; hence the remaining unevenly round, brown things at the end of the meal.
A panizza is actually a rectangular thin-crust pizza cut into strips and is usually topped with arugula and alfalfa sprouts before rolling the strip, and eating it with your fingers. Think Dear Darla of Yellow Cab. Wanting two different panizze variants but fearing it would be too much, the waiter fortunately told us that we could order half of both. The Mona Lisa Speciale comprises cream tomato sauce, mozzarella, provolone cheese, herbs, and garlic buttered shrimps, while the Miguelli Calabrese has cream sauce, mozzarella, parmesan cheese, Italian sausages, herbs, and porcini mushrooms. Of the two, I'd go for the former---as I said, I'm not fond of Italian sausages---although having a penchant for arugula and alfalfa sprouts pretty much clouds whatever flavor of pizza I'm eating.
The food is good, different from the usual in terms of taste at the very least. Can't say it's the best I've had, except for the panizza, which has that crisp exterior that gives way to a nice, chewy roll. Next time I find myself here, I'll still go for the panizza, but maybe I'll get a different pasta, a ravioli maybe or a risotto, or something with mushroom and truffle oil. Then I'll have the cannoli for dessert.
Mona Lisa Ristorante
Spot: 2nd/F The Commerce Center, Commerce Ave. Filinvest, Alabang, Muntinlupa
Contact No.: 556.0708