The Italian flavor has never been new to the Filipino palate and restaurants catering Italian cuisine are everywhere. But as the old saying goes, “some things never go out of style” and out of sync with the best of the best in pleasing the tummies.
I bet there are classics that are an all-time favorite i.e. the first restaurant where you tried this, which had this and offered this. Let’s go Flashback Friday then and take a glimpse on Don Henrico’s humble beginnings.
Founded way back 1993 in Baguio City, the establishment became a hit not just to the students, who were originally the targeted clientele, but also to the rest of the locals and tourists alike. Soon, branches spread down south invading the country’s capital, which is Metro Manila. They now have 10 branches in the following places in Luzon: Session Road, SM Baguio, Malate, Tomas Morato, at the Brickroad in Sta. Lucia Mall in Cainta, Greenhills, West Avenue, Festival Mall in Alabang, SM Mall of Asia, and at Glorietta, Ayala Center, Makati City.
Don Henrico’s @ Glorietta 1, Makati City
Personally, it was year 2002 that my family and I first dined at Don Henrico’s along Session Road during my brother’s Incorporation Day at the Philippine Military Academy. That was exactly 12 years ago and my next Don Henrico’s experience was 3 days ago at Glorietta 1 in Makati City.
Circa 2002: With the family, relatives and an ethnic group at Baguio Botanical Gardens.
Circa 2002: The fam bam during my brother’s Incorporation Day at PMA.
Going back to year 2002, it was the Buffalo Wings that I instantly fell in love with. Every time I hear the phrase “buffalo wings,” no other name pops in my head but that of Don Henrico’s. I was more than thrilled when I found out it still is included in their must-try dishes until now. Some things never do grow old, indeed.
Chicken ala Buffalo
If I were you, I’d definitely place their “buffalo wings” on top of your list of must-try dishes at Don Henrico’s. So you’d probably wonder why I fell in love with it and why put it as your chart topper. Let’s just say that the perfect fusion of their special BBQ sauce for the chicken wings and the dip creates that extremely smooth, flavorful and mouth-watering taste in your every bite. The spices used are not overpowering which complements well with the tender, moist and juicy meat of the chicken. Upon serving, the aroma of spices combined with the BBQ sauce and the smell of deliciously cooked chicken will already entice your appetite.
My best pick from Don Henrico’s menu.
They sometimes call this dish “Chicken a la Buffalo” whenever they use a different chicken part other than wings. And I must say, may it be the leg, the breast or any part of the chicken, satisfaction is guaranteed taste-wise.
Another must-try dish at Don Henrico’s would be the Summer Salad. Of course, any meal whether vegetarian or not, always has to has greens. Speaking of being health conscious, you do have an option here. If you wanted to go less on carbs, this salad is definitely perfect for you. And another reason to love it? It just reminds you of summer. Who do not love summer? Everybody loves summer! 😉
And that is exactly what this salad brings you – a feel good summer feeling with all its tropical fruit ingredients from slices of mangoes, to kiwi, grapes, mandarin oranges and walnuts topped over fresh, crisp lettuce. Drizzle it with strawberry vinaigrette dressing and voila! You wish you are off to the beach munching on this.
From something light, let’s go to something a bit heavy – pastas. They offer 2 must-try pasta dishes and being a seafood lover, I was overjoyed. No, that is an understatement. I was ecstatic!
I’ll start first with their Tutto De Mare pasta. This linguine pasta is generously served with shrimps and squid cooked in marinara sauce made special by combining ingredients such as garlic, chili, tomatoes, and selected herbs. The shrimps and squid are perfectly cooked. In cooking seafood, there is always this tendency for them to become rubbery when overcooked. But with this dish, I can taste the sweet taste of the shrimp meat and the squid is tender enough you won’t have to cut it at all with your table knife.
Tutto de Mare
Their second must-try pasta is the X.O. Seafood pasta. This has a very light taste and I love the perfect blend of the seafood and the bell peppers. I bet some would disagree with me when it comes to loving a seafood pasta that’s based with just olive oil as the common dilemma would be the “fishy” aftertaste that sometimes takes you off the hook in experiencing that perfect seafood experience. But this one will get you totally hooked to being a seafood pasta lover with seafood ingredients as the bait. Trust me. 😉
X.O. Seafood Pasta
But there is something more. Don Henrico’s is also known for its pizzas. And their top 2 must-try pizzas are here to rock your Italian cuisine experience – Don Henrico’s Supreme pizza and Seafood Romano pizza.
Don Henrico’s Supreme pizza is a thick crust pizza topped with pepperoni, mushroom, ham, onions, beef, pineapple tidbits, black olives, bell pepper, homemade ricotta cheese and tasty cheese served with red sauce. What I particularly love about this pizza is that the toppings are not overwhelming and they pair just right with the not-so-thick crust.
Don Henrico’s Supreme Pizza
The Seafood Romano pizza amazes me in a way that the seafood toppings are not “toppings” at all as they seem to be embedded in the crust. I guess one common dilemma that pizza eaters have would be their topping rolling/falling off the pizza while they are about to take a bite. And once again, their seafood was cooked just right. The cheese just complements well with the overall seafood taste you would not need any sauce to add flavor to your Seafood Romano pizza.
Seafood Romano Pizza
Of course, something sweet will always be present in any “courtship.” Thus, when you are at Don Henrico’s, allow yourself to be serenaded by their sweets corner and among their must-try desserts are their Chocolate Nirvana Cake, Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake, Red Velvet Cake and Toblerone Cheesecake.
I’ll start with the Chocolate Nirvana Cake. It is a moist chocolate cake with chocolate ganache layers topped with dark ganache frosting. I can say that describing the overall texture of the cake would be this and only this – EXTREMELY SMOOTH.
Chocolate Nirvana Cake
Next is their Red Velvet Cake topped with cream cheese frosting which is indeed velvety enough it is not just delectably good but perfect as a light dessert after a flavorful meal.
Red Velvet Cake
And for Toblerone lovers and addicts like me, Toblerone Cheesecake is a perfect must-try especially if you are a cheesecake lover too. Imagine having two of your favorites in just one dessert – SUGAR RUSH, it is.
And of course, I saved the best dessert for me as my last entry in the must-try desserts – Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake. Why is it my best bet? It has the perfect balance of sweetness and saltiness that is not ordinary among desserts. It is a moist chocolate cake with chocolate ganache filling and covered with salted caramel butter cream. I can eat a whole cake of this. No kidding. 🙂
Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake
All their desserts are not too sweet which gives you that sort of craving for more sweets but not heavy enough for the tummy. You can actually finish a whole slice of their desserts and I am sure you’d request to try all of them.
Don Henrico’s is not just after delivering good food, but the place matters as well. It is not just the treats that your suitor gives you during courtship that are important but how you were serenaded as well, right?
I loved the ambiance of Don Henrico’s at Glorietta 1 in Makati City. They have one side of the restaurant which is quite classical and another side which is a bit modern. What sets them apart would be the choice of lighting for each of this side. The place has a combination of yellow and white lights which creates that semblance to a home. Art galleries are known for its yellow mellow lights while a common office ambiance would be the white lights and any home has both the white and the yellow lights.
You’ll also see inside the restaurant a striking balance of modern chairs and lounge chairs that indeed attract a diverse clientele. In other words, you have the option to choose from the type of chair that you would love to sit on to that perfect nook that suits your mood.
I Love Wine
But the overall feel of the restaurant is totally relaxing. It is spacious enough for you and your family and every nook has its own character. Exactly why I think Don Henrico’s will never go out of style. Infusing the classical with the modern is its way of serenading the clientele with their particular interests from food to ambiance of the place making one happy customer utter this big Italian word – BELLISSIMO!
Check out a Don Henrico’s branch near you and be serenaded as well with their best pizzas, pastas and more. I should say that you say YES to that. 😉
The following are their website and Facebook page:
And before I forget, they have something ENORMOUS coming up this October! It is something REALLY HUGE. Stay tuned for updates! 😉
(L-r): Don Henrico’s Operations Manager Noel Santos and Marketing Manager Anthony Mercado with the WhenInManila.com writers.
(Thank you Sir Noel, Sir Tony, Ma’am Tess as well as to the entire staff of Don Henrico’s for the warm welcome!)