With no budget for fancy restaurants, my culinary trips to Iloilo City usually consists of nothing more than carinderia fares, bowls of La Paz batchoy and the usual tusok-tusok streetfood. So I almost choked with surprise then that on my last outing to the city, I, together with other travel bloggers, was invited to try out the upper-class cuisine of Iloilo City at the Al Dente Restaurant.
According to Merriam-Webster’s, Al Dente is a dish that’s cooked just enough to retain a somewhat firm texture.
Alright alright, I know most 90’s kids know what the word means from a TV commercial from yesteryears. The term originates from Italy and refers mostly to pasta dishes, so I’m thinking we must be having Italian tonight.
Al Dente, cited as one of the top restaurants in Iloilo City, is located at the ground floor of the luxurious Sarabia Manor Hotel along Gen. Luna. It’s been serving a fusion of Italian-Mediterranean dishes for almost a decade and a half now.
Its interior is elegantly simple with its polished concrete floor complimented by tasteful black leather chairs and wood-top tables. Wine-racks line its walls which gave me an I-cannot-possibly-afford-to-eat-here feeling.
After dropping our huge backpacks off one corner of the restaurant and settling down on a long table, the dishes started to pour in one after another.
The restaurant is managed by Chef Pauline Gorriceta Banusing and every plate laid on our table looked delicious; margherita pizza, lengua callos, baby back ribs, marinara pasta, mahi-mahi fillet and beef salpicao.
I took a few bites of the callos and the baby back ribs and stayed permanently away from them.
Not that they suck, but I’m just not a fan of those dishes. The back ribs by the way’s quite good (again, coming from a non-fan), especially the mashed potato that comes along with it.
Everyone’s seemed to be staying away from Al Dente’s beef salpicao; probably due to its not-so-enticing presentation, but once I tried it, I loved every bits of it. It’s garlicky and salty, just the way I like my dishes.
Some actually found it to be too salty, but its flavor sits just right on my palate.
But the real winner of the night for me was Al Dente’s margherita pizza. If I were to make a consensus with my companions, I’d bet this would also top the voting; judging how fast it went from being at the table to its absolute disappearance.
Besides the perfectly crispy crust, its flavor was spot on; not too sour but not overpoweringly cheesy either.
Overall, my not-so-ordinary-by-my-standards dinner at Iloilo City that night was quite excellent. Everything was cooked just right, very Al Dente indeed eh? I’m not usually used to such swanky restos, but with enough push, I think I can really get used to it. Well, okay not really, haha.
Al Dente Restaurant
Address: Sarabia Manor Hotel & Convention Centre,
Gen. Luna Street, Iloilo City
Contact Number: (033) 336-7813
GPS Coordinates: 10°41'56.9"N 122°33'24.9"E