Thursday, August 16, 2018

Extra Virgin, Milano Residences, Makati

A few weeks ago, I braved the rain and the traffic to try out this new restaurant in Makati called Extra Virgin. It took me two hours to get there, so I thought, it better be worth it.
And you know what, it was. I thought the dishes they served us were well thought out and not the kind of dishes that you can find just anywhere. You're probably wondering, why call it Extra Virgin? Well, it's mainly because they showcase a lot of dishes with extra virgin oil in it. But aside from that, it's also because they prepare everything from scratch, so it's kind of pure in that sense as well.

Extra Virgin is actually a Mediterranean restaurant that was started by Mark Buhain, a robotics engineer turned chef. This isn't the first restaurant that Buhain opened - he and his wife actually used to own a traditional Italian restaurant called Cantina Sicilianita in Shaw Boulevard. Comparing the two, Extra Virgin has a more modern feel to it - with high ceilings, lots of natural light, and a cozier feel.

As I mentioned earlier, Chef Marky is actually a robotics engineer. He used to travel a lot to Germany to research on machines. On one of his many visits to Europe, he found himself in Sicily, where he fell in love with cannoli. He considers this as his turning point - the one thing that made him switch careers and focus on his passion, which is cooking.

During our visit to Extra Virgin, we got to try some of his specialties, starting with the Kissable Lips (P330)!

What a name, right? That alone will get you curious! Haha! This one consists of overnight marinated salmon with beetroot (hence the color), dill, and a hint of zest. They serve this with a glass cover, filling it up with apple smoke for a more dramatic effect. If you're looking to start with something light, this is it ;)

Next, we have their Wrecking Balls (P240).

If you're a fan of risotto, Chef Marky takes it to another level with these crunchy risotto balls filled with cheese and tomato ragu. I personally loved this one as it combines different textures (crunchy on the outside, creamy on the inside). The flavors here are on point as well! 
His Lip Smacking Balls (P260) followed soon after.

Classic Italian meatballs made with 100% pure beef mixed with secret spices and a red wine tomato sauce. Soft, juicy, and oh so flavorful! This one's supposed to be an appetizer, but I had it with rice. So good!

Out of all the dishes we tried that afternoon, my favorite was their Black Truffle Pasta (P400). You can really taste the truffle in there, unlike with other truffle dishes where it's just very light, almost nonexistent. With this one, you'll have no doubts, so it's definitely value for money. Make sure to get some parmesan cheese in every bite as it goes really well with the sauce!

If you're looking for really good porchetta, Chef Marky makes a mean one! Extra Virgin's Countryside Porchetta (P390) is a delicious roast pork belly roll served on cottage potato chips with onion confit and sweet apricot compote. This dish shows that they don't just put random things together, but they really think about how to elevate each one and make sure that the ingredients they use complement each other. I didn't expect to like this one so much, but I did. Thank you, Chef Marky.
Last but not the least, the dish that started it all, the Cannoli (P290).

I remember my first taste of cannoli at a food fair in Makati a few years back. I hated it. I didn't understand what I was eating, to be honest. It was weird and all watery, so to be honest, I had my hesitations with this one as well. But I'm happy to say that Chef Marky's version was nothing like that. It was perfect and crunchy and creamy in all the right places. As with most cannoli, this one makes use of a creamy ricotta filling, but is finished off with lemon zest and crunchy pistachios.

P.S. I just heard that they have promos on wines and beers this August! Come by between 7-10pm and enjoy unlimited sangria for Php 600, unlimited wine for Php 550, or their buy-two-get-one-free deals on beers!

Extra Virgin may not have the best location, but it's definitely worth a visit! It's one of the restaurants you really have to watch out for in Poblacion ;) Visit them at G/F The Milano Residences, Kalayaan Avenue, Poblacion, Makati City.
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Extra Virgin Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato