By Steven Nichols
Ciao amanti del cibo! (Hello food lovers!)
That was my pathetic attempt to intrigue you and sound like one of those Italian studs, you know, like on the cover of a cheesy romance novel. Did it work? Can you envision me galloping on a stallion in slow motion down road? If the answer is yes, you might want to continue reading. If no, but you like good food, you should continue reading anyway and hope that the description of the wonderful food that follows helps wash away the vision of my shirtless self riding bareback from your mind.
I will be throwing in some poorly Google translated terms to make me sound like an intriguing Italian lover, as I take you down this road to Italy. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the day of love, or as the Italians say, amore. So not only will you get to read an awesome review of Piccolo Padre (Small Father) you might also learn some Italian in the process. Or if you actually speak Italian, I apologize!
Piccolo Padre is fine dining restaurant located on the first floor of the Prime Asia Hotel on Narciso Avenue in Angeles City. Directly outside of the building there is reserved parking for those wishing to dine.
When you walk into Piccolo Padre you feel like you are immediately whisked away to Italy, (as in, you are not in Angeles City anymore, Dorothy!) The ceiling is adorned with paintings invoking the wonder of the Sistine Chapel. The surrounding décor includes large Venetian Carnivale Masks, paintings of the Grand Canal and St. Mark’s Clock Tower, chandeliers, white cloth tablecloths, and espresso-finished furniture. There is most likely not a more striking restaurant in town, and it certainly makes a monumental first impression.
The Menu - Starters
The soups and salads promise to start your night off right. Soups include Minestrone Milanese, Mushroom Capuccino, and Straciatella (Spinach and Egg in Chicken Consommé). Caesar, House, Seared Tuna, Shrimp Salad and Arugula Salad are also on the menu. Prices for soups and salads are between P250 and P650.
The Grazing Menu is one of my favorites. If you are feeling peckish and want to have a little bite of everything then order some of these treats with some friends: Seafood Platter; Cheese, Salame and Grapes Plate; Foie Gras Santo; Mozzarella in Kalesa; Tomato and Mozzarella Bruschetta; Smoked Salmon Bruschetta; Live Oysters Inferno; Scallops on the Half Shell; Ahi Katsu; Seared Tuna and Chilean Black Mussels range from P450 to P900. Some of the appetizer dishes are ordered by the piece and cost just P60 to P80 per item.
On one recent visit I was with a group, so we ordered both the Seafood Platter, which includes Pan Fried Black Mussels, Natural or Baked Oysters ala Genovese, Ahi Katsu and Shell-on Scallops, as well as the Cheese Salame and Grapes Plate which consists of four imported cheeses. Options include Fontina Piemontese, Gorgonzola, Taleggio, Truffled Pecorino, Parmiggiano Reggiano, Greek Feta, Brie, Port Salute or Gruyere served with Ligurian Olives and Artisan Salame and Grissini. It generously served 8 people without leaving us too full to enjoy the rest of our meal.
The Menu - Entrees
Meats and Seafood are served with one choice of Spaghetti Pomodoro, Tagliatelle Alfredo, Risotto, Polenta, Potato of the Day, Vegetable of the Day, or House Salad. Mains include Maine Lobster Tails, Veal Tenderloin, Ossobuco Alla Milanese (Veal Shank), Prawns Scampi, Furikake Salmon, Red Snapper with Sicilian Pesto, Chilean Sea Bass, Rack of Lamb, Angus Pork Rip Chop, and Duck Breast Alla Melarancia (sweet orange).
Within this page, they have a “Selection of American Steaks.” From my last review, you know meat is a large part of my life. A great steak is always hard to come by. They have a great selection of Ribeyes, Tenderloins, T-Bones, and a New York Strip. Meats and Seafood run from P750 to P2950. The high-end cuts are excellent quality Wagyu steaks.
Risotti & Pasta
Y’all know I am not the biggest carbohydrate consumer, so I brought the Harry the Horse family along to help sample the pastas. Truffled Salmon Shitake Risotto, Foie Gras and Marrow Risotto, Black ink Risotto and Scallops, Red Snapper Ravioli with Lobster and Oysters, Roast Duck Tortellini and the list goes on and on of high grade, high end ingredients. This is a menu that you need to check out, and there wasn’t a dish in this section that didn’t get a unanimous thumbs up from our crew.
Wine and Desserts
A frequent complaint of mine in Angeles is the selection of wine on the menu, but I had zero complaints this time. Piccolo Padre has reasonably priced white and red wine by the bottle and by the glass. Prices can vary quite a bit depending on the bottle selected, but there is likely to be something to satisfy your taste and budget on their wine list. If you are looking to celebrate Valentine’s Day here, they also have bubbly, including Moët & Chandon Champagne in both Brut and Rosé.
The sweet tooth flap of the menu includes the delicious Cannoli Siciliani, Gelati, Amaretto Panna Cotta, Tiramisu, and Cheese Cake. All desserts are P250. While dining for this review, we ordered the Amaretto Panna Cotta with Merlot Syrup and Macerated Raspberries as well as the Crème Brulee, which was their special that night, and it was bellissimo (beautiful). The detail on the presentation was phenomenal and unexpected. On other occasions, I have had the Cannoli Siciliani, which is two crispy homemade shells filled with ricotta or chocolate mousse. I go with the chocolate option and it is always delicious.
Piccolo Padre is an elegant restaurant with a large selection of quality Italian dishes prepared under the supervision of Chef Dan, the genius behind this wonderful menu. Service is some of the best you will get in Angeles city and with Valentine’s Day just around the corner you will be able to treat your lady to some of the best food, décor, ambiance, and service that Region 3 has to offer. Chef Dan is sure to be seen stopping by the dining room tables to make sure that everything goes perfectly.
As usual, I did extensive research on your behalf by eating at Piccolo Padre on multiple occasions to ensure that I can give you an accurate accounting. Prego! (You are welcome!) Through those wonderful experiences, I can honestly say that I enjoyed each dish that I tried. However, I must suggest that when Chef Dan offers a special, do your self a favor and eat it. He doesn’t just throw something on the menu to give it a whirl. His specials really are…special. So partake and enjoy.
The lobster dishes on the menu are quite amazing, as are the steaks, so it should come as nosurprise that Chef Dan puts together a mean Surf-N-Turf. When offered, it is a best-of-both-worlds combination that should not be missed. Both the lobster and steak are top quality, cooked to perfection, and melt-in-your-mouth tender. Served with sides of your choosing, you get to select your food pairing options, but when Chef Dan’s creamed spinach is available I highly recommend it.
Another dish that I simply cannot turn down is the Lamb Ribs Braised in a Cabernet Sauce with Rosemary and Spanish Pepper. The ribs are served bone-in, but the meat falls off so easily that a knife is completely optional. The succulent, savory sauce perfectly complements the flavor of the lamb, making each bite seem to dance on your tongue right up until the pleasant finish.
With Valentine’s Day rapidly approaching, I’d hurry up and get your reservations in now. Chef Dan is sure to have something wonderful planned and you don’t want to miss out. However, if you do, you can always make any night a romantic experience to remember with a visit to Piccolo Padre. Guys take your game up a notch and give your lady an Italian experience she will not soon forget.