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One evening, I was chatting with a couple of Italian acquaintances who were asking each other if they knew good Italian restaurants in the South. Not the modern Italian food in fancy restaurants but honest-to-goodness, humble but hearty Italian food, like their mamas used to make. Of course, two places came to mind. I immediately suggested Daniele’s Casa Mia (https://aboucheamused.com/2016/08/17/danieles-casa-mia-a-secret-gem-on-sucat/) on Sucat Road and the Mona Lisa Ristorante https://aboucheamused.com/2012/08/19/why-the-mona-lisa-makes-me-smile/ at Westgate Alabang. Then I asked if they’ve explored the restaurants inside BF. They wanted to, they said, but they had the notion that the places there were either drinking spots or offering Asian food (Korean, Japanese, Chinese). That’s a mistaken notion, I told them — in fact, there are two pretty good Italian restaurants which they ought to try. Mama Lou’s Italian Kitchen and Trattoria Altrov’e.

Trattoria Altrov’e became a huge hit in Palawan a few years back — in Coron and at El Nido resort — where it all began for its proprietors, a Slovenian man and his Filipina wife. Living up to their restaurant’s name, altrov’e (which means elsewhere in Italian), they set up a branch elsewhere indeed a couple of years ago — right inside BF subdivision, which has become a food mecca in the Metro south. The house where the Trattoria is situated has a casual and comfy beach-home vibe, with its wood floors and an airy space that opens up onto a garden. So don’t be surprised if you’ll be asked to take off your footwear. All the better to enjoy their signature brick-oven-baked pizzas. The pizzas are made fresh in the Neapolitan style — characterized by usually having more sauce than cheese with the middle of the pie soft and moist. The generous servings of pasta dishes are great, too, and the seafood flown in fresh from Palawan and the Visayas. Prices are reasonable, too. But with the secret being out, I suggest making reservations — call 2469069, ext 558.

Many many years ago, when Aguirre Avenue was hardly the busy, bustling bar and restaurant row it is now, one of the mainstay dining places here was Café Français, owned by the Tremblays — that’s French-Canadian Richard and his Filipina wife Marilou. Some years later, the Tremblays closed down the café, relocated and reinvented themselves and their restaurant to their house on Tropical Avenue. Ecco … Mama Lou’s Italian Kitchen! Named after Richard’s late wife, Marilou, and managed by husband-and-wife team, Crystal Tremblay Sison and David Sison. The relaxed homelike environment and the casual, friendly atmosphere provide a marvelous setting for enjoying good and solid Italian comfort food. I love the simplicity of the dishes and the boldness and heartiness of their flavors. Nothing fancy, but everything satisfying. Prices are reasonable and parking is easy. It’s located on Tropical Palace St. corner Tropical Ave. at BF Las Piñas. For reservations, call 2469069 ext 927. They also have branches now at the Uptown Center Mall and in Nuvali.

Both are off the beaten Aguirre track. Both are located along Tropical Avenue at BF Homes International. Both offer ample parking. And both are set up nicely in refitted homes, giving each restaurant a very relaxed, down-to-earth, and congenial ambience. Ironically, neither one is owned by a true-blue Italian. But, judging by the excellence of the food, that doesn’t matter at all — both will definitely satisfy a buon appetito!

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