Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Royal Garden Estate, Friendship Circumferential Road, Angeles City, Pampanga

I'm hardput to remember a Valentine's night out with my husband. He'd buy me the best floral arrangement his money could buy and make sure it's delivered where and when there would be the highest concentration of people to witness the delivery. He'd give me some expensive bauble, he'd treat me to a spa treatment even if I didn't need one, just don't make him be out there with those pathetic, soppy couples out celebrating the cheesiest occasion invented by man.

But this year, we had a candlelit dinner at an Italian restaurant. Okay, it was a business meeting with 2 other couples, but still.

Cioccolo serves more than just Italian food though. And most of us had non-italian dishes. We started off with deepfried balut, which to me was the best dish of the night. It was also the only dish that didn't take an hour to be served. Okay, the menu described my order as 10-hour roasted ribs, but I didn't know that was to be taken literally. The dishes eventually arrived, and at least they were good. Or we were just too hungry that even the soles of our havaiannas (yes, casual attire is welcome) would taste scrumptious. The ribs were tender and the barbecue sauce just right. My husband ordered grilled lengua; I've never had grilled lengua before and didn't even know that was done. It was good; made mental note to try that at home.

Cioccolo serves a variety of coffees , including Jamaican coffee, Illy, and alamid (I gasped a little when I saw someone drowning the premium alamid coffee with copious amounts of creamer - you gotta go black!). In this day of roll your eyes up and go to heaven desserts, their Oreo cheesecake was just okay.

Even if the place was huge and the diners many, the place still had that warm, intimate feel; thanks to the well designed lighting and the fine furniture. My seat afforded a view of artfully arranged, gigantic cabbage roses, which surprisingly were fresh and real. If you're ever in the area, this place is worth a try, valentine's day or not.

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