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Signor Niño’s Amoroma had moved all the way from Alabang to Tagaytay and, sadly, Signor Niño himself had gone on to that Grande Pizzeria in the Sky. Chris Locher’s first ristorante, C’Italian, was far far away in Angeles, Pampanga (although, to date, Chef Chris has opened his Kitchen in Paco, Manila, and will soon be opening a branch in Makati, but both still require some traveling and toll fees). So, grazie a Dio for the Mona Lisa!

When the Mona Lisa Ristorante opened in July 2010 at Filinvest Westgate, the Alabangers rejoiced! In the suburbs where proper dining restaurants which served authentic Italian recipes were few and far between, the Mona Lisa was a most welcome arrival. It is owned by Michael Grandinetti, an Italian-American from Seattle who traces his roots to Calabria, at the southernmost part of the Italian peninsula. Mike is married to his Filipina wife, Belle, who is also the Executive Chef. Chef Belle had stayed awhile in Italy and studied Italian cuisine there. They both also happen to be dedicated triathletes.

The ristorante is located on the 2nd floor of the Commerce Center along Commerce Ave corner Filinvest Drive at the Westgate, Alabang. In fact, if you look up at the building, you may see La Giaconda herself smiling down at you. 😉

The interiors are modern and comfortable, with Michaelangelo-esque frescoes on the ceiling as if to underscore the Italian theme. Some kitschy touches here and there, but hey, this is the ‘burbs. I love to sit by the large windows, with a view of the Westgate traffic below. Most of the time, especially on weekend nights, Mike Grandinetti himself will welcome you to his restaurant in his warm and hearty Italian way. And you can count on very good and hearty Italian food here — perhaps not quite alta cucina, but definitely dependably delicious cucina casalinga, or traditional home cooking. My favorite dish here is the umami-yummy Gnocchi al Funghi e Porcini, washed down with a glass of excellent red wine! And, of course, there’s the Cannoli! Who can resist the sweet and crunchy cannoli filled with creamy ricotta, pistachio nuts, and other good stuff, paired with a scoop of syrup-drizzled gelato? I’ve found myself smiling like the Mona Lisa each time after a meal here. Definitely, my bouche is amused every time.

It’s a popular dining destination in the South, so be sure to reserve a table first. You may call 556-0708 or +63917.8365472 or email monalisa_1623@yahoo.com.