The culinary lineage is impeccable. The pedigree, unmistakable. His mother needs no introduction. She’s been hailed as Asia’s Best Female Chef: the lady who re-ignited our passion for Italian with Cibo, made us drool for Lobster Rolls at Lusso, and most recently, cooked for U2’s Bono and Edge at her Grace Park.
But this isn’t about Margarita. This is the story of Amado Forés and what’s become the hottest new restaurant in the city: a mano.
That’s right: all lower case; no caps. I’m assuming that Amado wanted it that way because of who and how he is. Low key. Humble as in “Let the food speak for itself”; this restaurant, after all, is not about him. It’s about his team of chefs and cooks, and how they make everything “a mano,” by hand, every single day.
And that’s what makes this new Italian restaurant very special. There’s a certain purity, even an innocence about it. It’s easy to like, and even easier to love. It’s located on that breezy row outside the Power Plant mall: it’s next to Via Mare and Mamou, but it is, this early, standing proudly on the shoulders of those giants. And it’s quite easy to find. Though a mano opens for dinner service at six in the evening, half an hour before, eager diners are already assembled outside, in the al fresco area, waiting to be seated. Yes, reservations are very much recommended. Even for lunchtime.
The food is always fresh, and always faithful to its roots. Amado was exposed to the cuisine of Italy early in life, and he realized early on what the secret to its success was. Not the complexity of France or the diversity of Spain. But rather, in the sublime simplicity of Italian ingredients. It’s not complicated at all.
Upon entering the restaurant, to the left, young chefs knead the dough and expertly pull and form all shapes of pasta, from tagliatelle to tortellini. Freshly made, at least two batches per day. Further down is a Valoriani oven for the pizzas. The food is traditional, representative of Italy’s regions and cities and isles. Tuscany. Rome. Sicily.
I strongly suggest you have these: start with the Focaccia di Recco, a light and crispy flatbread stuffed with Stracchino cheese. Every table around you will have one. Follow their lead. Go for the Cacio e Pepe for the pasta course, then follow with a pizza that’s topped with Carbonara: guanciale and egg yolks!
For your main, have the Bisteca which is divine, or the Cartoccio, the fresh fish catch of the day wrapped in parchment, baked with lemon and extra virgin olive oil. And end with the sexiest Tiramisu you’ll ever behold: oozing with decadent sensuality.
And for more recommendations? Feel free to ask Chef Morris Manalo. He’s the main man in the kitchen. Amado is the restaurant’s soul, but Chef Morris is the heart that keeps it beating. It’s true: a mano isn’t just about one man. While it certainly is Amado’s dream of Italian cuisine, the fulfillment of that dream is completed by all of his a mano family.