Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Gelato Redemption: Amici et Cara Mia

We’re off to Greenhills sooner than I thought!

My husband and 2 brother-in-laws are huge pizza and pasta lovers so it wasn’t hard to convince them to have lunch at Amici. On our way down Connecticut, I regaled them with tales of the original one in Don Bosco where my old office used to be. I described the portly priests cooking away in a steamy kitchen separated from the rest of the cafeteria with a clear glass sliding window, the noisy boys we competed with for table space, the complimentary bread baskets with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to boot… and of course the generous servings of pasta with the featured meat which alternates between rosemary chicken or roast beef for only P110. The meal must be capped with a scoop or two of gelato at P30 each with a side show of the previously-cooking priests relaxing to shots of espresso shared with Bencab. That was 2003.

After being bought by the family that used to own Red Ribbon (now under Jollibee), today’s Amici boasts of Italian-themed interiors of white, green and red with the Greenhills branch annexed to an entire “gelateria” section called Cara Mia in lovely pastel colors. It feels totally different but I’m glad they kept the water and ice station where you can get an entire frosted pitcher for your table. Another down-to-earth touch is you can actually order 1.5L of softdrinks because for my boys, a can just won’t do.

We ordered the meat pizza with ham and sausages, penne with smoked salmon, fried mozzarella and lasagna al forno. The price increase was expected but not the petite servings. Each dish was enough for a girl my size but definitely not for guys used to wolfing down 36” pizzas as fast as I could finish a regular sandwich. The penne was pretty good but the lasagna was too fragrant it felt like I was eating in a flower shop. You can’t go wrong with fried mozzarella but there are so many ways you can screw up with pizza starting with the thick-bready crust same as the one of pizza hut.

I knew my companions were dissatisfied but they were such gentlemen to say so. They were probably itching to bolt for the nearby McDo, but I ushered them to Cara Mia, the reason why I brought them there in the first place.

The display of gelato, ice cream cakes and cookies were beautiful but not on adventurous mode anymore, they stuck to the classic Pistachio and Strawberry while I went for the most complicated-looking Mango Jubilee which I’m pretty sure I won’t find in ice-cream version anytime soon. Back in Don Bosco I used to order the Rum Raisin, maybe I was the only one so they phased it out, but I’m sure a lot of people will go crazy over my new choice which would be more appropriately called Berries Buffet – there were more strawberries and blueberries than mango packed in gelato whose main purpose is to hold ‘em fruits together.

We were all happy with dessert and should have left it at that except after a little shopping we decided to go one more for the road. We ordered a slice of Banana Blast ice cream cake and Strawberry Gelato Milkshake. The cake was 3 flavors of ice cream with a dark crusty bottom, chocolate sticks and strawberry drizzle, it looked very pretty but was quite overwhelming - plus points for the generous strawberries much more prominent than the banana-flavored ice cream so again this one should be aptly renamed. The milkshake was very thick and rich they way it’s supposed to be but I don’t think I’ll be having any again in this lifetime.

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