Judging by the success of both Italian fine dining restaurants and fast food chains alike, millions of Filipinos have readily opened their arms to Italian cuisine over the years. Pasty, sweet spaghetti has been replaced with al dente pasta in all its incarnations, flavored with traditional sauces made in different styles. Risotto has become a common side dish even in some non-Italian menus, and it is not surprising to see thinly-sliced prosciutto being served with cocktails at dinner parties.
So when the craving for Italian food strikes, it’s good to have a cozy nook in the city where you can tuck in for your pizza or pasta fix. Esprimere is just that kind of place- a small neighborhood joint that serves Italian comfort food that is familiar to its Filipino clientele, without compromising authenticity and quality. Their menu is limited to the classics- such as pizza and pasta- with some specials for both lunch and dinner. A glass case at the counter displays a modest selection of deli meats and cheeses- all reasonably-priced and perfect with any of their Italian wines on display.
They have improved on the interiors since their soft opening (a cousin is a friend of the owner)- the warm lighting complimenting the tasteful light wood of the walls and furniture, evoking the feel of a modern and casual European eatery. They also have beautifully framed photos of Italian scenes, filling the wall next to their signature mural of the Tower of Pisa. The mood is welcoming and unpretentious, and it encourages you to hang out and enjoy a long meal if you please- which is the Italian way.
The vibe seems to have worked its magic on me as I ordered 100 grams of their Salami Calabrese from the deli, with a glass of Italian red wine.
I thoroughly enjoyed the lasagna on my first visit, so when I took Matt with me the next time around we just had to have it. Esprimere’s lasagna works because it is simple, classic and done right. The béchamel is smooth and rich, the meat sauce mildly-flavored with oregano and other traditional herbs. And, most importantly, they topped it with good cheese which made a world of difference. If I had one issue, it was that the portion left me wanting. Perhaps they could offer their lasagna in two sizes- their regular one and a larger one for appetites like mine and Matt’s. Really, I wouldn’t mind paying extra.
Their pizzas are also done in the simple and classic style- no outlandish toppings here. We opted for the four-cheese version, and it was a delight with its balanced flavors and thin, crisp crust. Since I still had several slices of salami all to myself, I topped a couple of pizza slices with the slightly-piquant meat.
Esprimere is the perfect pit stop for those days when you want some good Italian comfort food. The food is reasonably-priced, and so is the wine- great for those days when I’m channeling Sophia Loren but want to stay in my flip-flops.
Esprimere Italian Deli
G/F Pearl Plaza
Pearl Drive, Ortigas Center
Tel. no. (632) 544 5963