Thursday, August 16, 2012

Piadina and Pariahs

As a newly baptized pariah of Philippine society, it was fitting to dine in a place of childhood comfort where our wallet size was always welcome: Piadina. McDonald's and Coffee Experience nearly made it to the list but then again, cushioned seats were mandated that day. Last time I ate in Piadina was probably a decade ago, and last time I fully enjoyed Robinson’s Galleria, I was still sporting my Goldilocks high school uniform in a sleek bob. So 90s.

With flare jeans memories flooding my vision, you might call it blast from the past, though I’d prefer pariah on a budget—and a bit lost on the side. That Robinson’s Galleria Veranda required crossing the street, while my old-time favorite apple pie and St. Cinnamon have succumbed to the decade 2000’s advancement to gelato and anything red velvet.

And so, if there’s anything left from the quaint past, it’d be Piadina. Plus points for being empty on a Saturday. Lunch time. Sale day. Come to think of it, where are the people? Is this the new after life? Oh right, they’re looking for Mang Inasal.

Piadina used to be our destination of choice because of its piadina-pasta meals which were innovative back then, and cheap on the side. Having Italian food for such pocket-friendly price was quite the attraction, and the thought of eating at Piadina (back then, I repeat) sounded rather sophisticated, unfamiliar folks might as well thought we had lunch in the hills of Sicily.

[caption id="attachment_2200" align="aligncenter" width="491"] Warning: These are not tofu orbs.[/caption]

Of course moving to the present these unabashed thoughts seem rather unfounded.

A decade smarter and heavier, it seems that the Piadina references to Italy were liberally granted and being a conservative, I would like to paraphrase my adolescent mumbling. Piadina is still that Italian restaurant that wishes you “God bless!” upon your exit. Why they do that, it must be a call for glad tidings or a possible return. I’m banking on the latter because based on my 2012 experience, Piadina can certainly improve on its dishes, to at least reflect its ambience and colorful menu. True, the place continues to offer meals at affordable prices, but as for taste, I suppose Michael Corleone would on a spontaneous shooting spree once he gets a bite of anything from here.

The Pasta Cabrese lacks the flavor of anything under the bright Tuscan sun. While oil based, it could still benefit from the collective flavor of the garlic and anchovies, but I received nothing gastronomically satisfying, not even after shaking half the contents of the parmesan cheese. If it wasn’t for the broccoli, this pariah would’ve been a reincarnation of one angry and hungry consigliere.

The Margherita Pizza looked stunning upon delivery, with the waft of freshly baked ingredients and the promise of that delightful Piadina crust. While the flavor was excellent—after all it was just cheese and basil—the crust was on the tough side. Being tough is a good thing for a person, but for pizza crust/dough, it doesn’t go well, especially when there’s no olive oil-balsamic vinegar dip to dunk that chunk of rock.

As a precaution to those with dentures or use Sensodyne, the pizza is not for you. If you insist on it though, do share it with someone. Don’t hog it all to yourself or you’ll find yourself drinking your Sensodyne the next time around.

The Baked Chicken meal came with rice and a wee scoop of vegetables that looked like cafeteria cooking. Mediocre was the order of the day, and it looked more like a normal rice meal than a serving of Italian-inspired pollo. It’s probably their way of saying, Piadina is our specialty so it’s the only food we got right. Live with it.

But wait, isn’t the pizza also Piadina-based?

Ah well, it’s best that I end this harangue before I get banned from Galleria, my once second home and haven for the giggly Goldilocks girls.

Piadina doesn’t claim to be gourmet par excellence, just an Italian joint for the economically challenged. It is highly possible that my menu selection is flawed and their Pasta Vongole or actual Piadina do taste sublime.

After all they’ve been in that same spot for years, so there must be a sensible reason for that longevity. Outliving Las Paellas and Chef d’ Angelo, Piadina’s secret recipe might remain a secret from me, but not for the people (Who are you?) who dine there. I may not have seen you, but you probably exist under the tables or belong to the next shift.

My 2012 Piadina experience may have been quite the letdown, but visiting Robinson’s Galleria will always be a reminiscent escapade.

From yesteryear’s yellow uniform to today’s pariah, it has always turned a blind eye on our dirty deeds. And so I return the favor to Piadina: God bless!

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