Upon entering Da Gianni located in Westgate Alabang, you will probably notice one of two things first: 1.) the mouthwatering smell of their dishes wafting past you, and 2.) its quirky interiors that make the Italian restaurant truly one of a kind. As your eyes dart from one detail to another—from the framed photo of Brigitte Bardot located above the bathroom sink to an impressive collection of Altoid mints set up on a wall—you start to feel right at home.
“Everything you see here, from our recipes to the little details, that’s all Nonno. He really was a character,” proudly shares Matteo Guidicelli of his family’s restaurant. Nonno, in case you’re wondering, is what they lovingly call his grandfather—the heart of Da Gianni.
“Three years ago, when my Nonno passed away, we opened Da Gianni in Cebu. It was always a dream of ours to open in Manila and we finally pushed through with it earlier this year,” he tells us. Located at a comfortable nook in Westgate, Alabang, the restaurant is as homey as it looks. And why Alabang, one might ask? “Both of our families are very comfortable here, so it was a no-brainer for us to open in the area,” says Guidicelli’s business partner Pisha Abrille, quickly adding, “Of course, with the mindset that we’re going to expand.”
Gianluca Guidicelli, Pisha Abrille and Matteo Guidicelli, the faces behind Da Gianni, like to give the restaurant their own personal touch
It was delightful to learn that practically all of the dishes stem from the original recipes of Guidicelli’s grandparents. In addition to this, his father Gianluca indulges in what he likes to call his “playtime.” Every two weeks, he changes up the front page of the menu to make specials, getting a feel of what his customers like and don’t like. “A month ago, we had lemons from Amalfi, so all our specials included that,” says the younger Guidicelli. “This week, we have fresh seafood. We want customers to feel that there’s always something new. Parang bahay talaga where it’s always based on the ingredients that day.”
Speaking of seafood, one of the dishes served to us was their Pasta Mediterranea (P750), featuring a glorious medley of shrimp, fish and squid, just to name a few. Personally, what really stood out was the pasta itself, which seemed to be perfectly al dente from the first bite. The two share that all their pasta is homemade. “Obviously, we’re not perfect. Because it is homemade, you get different consistencies, like when you go to someone’s house,” Abrille shares, adding that they enjoy getting feedback and hearing out their customers afterwards.
Pasta Mediterranea (P750) and Short Ribs (P750)
Da Gianni has something for everyone. If you want an appetizer perfect for sharing, their Skewers (P1200) features different types of meat, vegetables and condiments. Other crowd favorites include the Quattro Formaggi (P520), a simple yet flavorful pizza topped with truffle, and most recently, the Carnavale (P950), which is a dream for any carnivore as it features generous slabs of meat. Before we knew it, Guidicelli’s father was pushing another one of his specials towards us, but this time, it was his hearty Apple Crumble (P380). If you prefer a dessert that is slightly lighter, their Panna Cotta (P230) will certainly do the trick.
Panna Cotta (P230)
The quality ingredients in Da Gianni’s kitchen, especially their cheeses and flour, are flown in from Italy. Many of their vegetables, on the other hand, are all fresh produce from little farms around the country. “We are conscious about everything that goes into the growing of the vegetables we use,” starts Abrille. “We don’t like things like pesticides. We like organic and follow the farm-to-table concept.”
While everything about Da Gianni screams authentic, they like to stay away from that very adjective. “Many Italian restaurants claim that they are authentic. What I want to say—and what my sister says all the time—is that we provide you with home-cooked Italian goodness. We’re simply giving you the food my family grew up with,” says Guidicelli. True to his words, it doesn’t take much to prove that the restaurant is very Italian indeed. Even the servers themselves do not to comply with requests of pineapple on pizza or ketchup as a condiment. “It’s just straightforward and simple, the way Nonno and Nonna made it,” he says with a smile.
As seen on MEGA Magazine August 2018.