While we owe a great sense of artistic and cultural heritage to Italy, the quest for authentic Italian cuisine is just a few kilometers away.
Situated in the reclusive streets of Scout Lazcano in Quezon City, a vintage structure houses an Italian restaurant named La Spezia by best friends and business partners Vin Yuquimpo and Chef Aaron Shiu.
Individual trips to Europe led them to acquire a taste for continental cuisine, but it was landing in Italy and tasting the finest, life-changing pastas that jolted them to opening a restaurant of their own. Putting their skills together, Vin and Chef Aaron unveiled La Spezia.
As La Spezia’s Executive Chef, Aaron Shiu’s experiences include working for Michelin-starred restaurants where he first grasped the essence of seasonality in dishes. He then brought the concept of the Italian feast to his own culinary transformations. “It’s good ingredients done right,” shares Chef Aaron. Thanks to his fastidiousness, La Spezia has now become synonymous with the best Italian pairings in an intimate setting. “With our concept, we don’t want to make Italian food heavy and normal,” shares Vin. “We wanted to keep the authenticity while adding our personal touch in terms of flavors and texture. That’s what stands out.” One of their techniques to maintain the quality of their food is instituting a mini-makeover on their menu every three months.
Intricately made, with mozarella that has a softer texture in its core, pomegranate leather, pan-fried oranges for that sweet and sour taste, La Spezia’s Buratta is the best dish to whet your appetite. Another good choice to start with is their Polenta Frittata, served with lemon-infused ricotta cheese, candied orange zest and Parmigiano Reggiano.
For their best-selling and house-specialty dishes kept on the menu, they have staple pasta dishes like the Spaghetti Pomodoro with the classic red sauce and Spaghetti Alla Carbonara with 63 degree sous vide egg and Parmigiano Reggiano. Highly-recommended main courses include the Sogliola Con Gazpacho, a market fresh flat fish with Italian Gazpacho; Pancetta Brasata, a 4-hour braised pork belly with carrot purée; lastly, Bistecca Rib-Eye Steak, a medium rare Angus Beef (USDA Choice) served with a mix salad.
In this restaurant, they do it as how the Italians are taught: by using the freshest ingredients acquired within a 50-kilometer radius. As a newcomer to the restaurant scene, La Spezia focuses on maintaining the quality of their food and staying true to the traditions that have given birth to them. “You should always remember why you started in the first place,” says Vin. “Because it’s easy for us to get lost in taking different detours when we aim to become someone else.”
“If you focus on your earnings, you might compromise the quality or if you focus on the fame, you might compromise on the work ethic.”
Making an authentic Italian dish is not as simple as combining everything on the table. However they choose to make it, traditional or modern, it all boils down to the expertise of the industrious and keen men behind it, and most importantly their heart and passion for great Italian food to be enjoyed by everyone.
La Spezia is located at 90 Sct. Dr. Lazcano St, Diliman, Quezon City, Metro Manila. For more information on La Spezia, you can check @laspezia.mnl on Instagram.