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Daniele's Casa Mia: Authentic Italian Cuisine
First page of my article in Cook
My original article was published in Cook Magazine, as well as in Business Mirror. The latter has an online version, so I can't feature my original article here. However, I can use my photos and can also write a totally different piece, which is what I'm doing now.
Here's the cover of the Feb. issue of Cook, where my article was featured.
Ties to the Philippines
Daniele's mother was a Filipina. She was the first wife of his father, Roberto Bellini, who runs two restaurants, one in Cubao and another in Marikina. Daniele's mother died in 1984, when he was 16 years old.
Daniele's first job was as a paparazzo in Italy. He started when he was 13, and he learned the trade from his father. His father was very proud of the fact that Daniele could take good quality photos. At the same time, Daniele was very resourceful as a paparazzo and broke many scoops, including the first story about Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman's adopted children.
Visits to The Philippines
Daniele grew up in Italy, but he visited the Philippines twice before he and his father settled down here. Both times, Daniele and his father were on assignment to photograph the late President Cory Aquino.
In the Philippines his father fell in love with another Filipina who was then working in Malacanang (The Philippine's White House). He married her and this led to the Bellinis' digging their roots in this country. Daniele has a Filipina fiancee.
A Classy Version of the Filipino Jeepney
The interiors of Daniele's Casa Mia remind me of a classy version of the Filipino jeepney. In the photo above, there is this lovely depiction of the leaning tower of Pisa, which is Daniele's hometown. To the right you will see samples of his photos as a paparazzo.
I asked my husband to hide my big arms with his hand. I think he did a pretty good job of it, but there is still the issue of my fat thighs that are pushing my leggings to its fullest width possible. Life.
Food We Recommend
I would highly recommend the ff. dishes from Daniele Casa Mia:
My favorite pasta is the four cheese gnocchi. It is definitely a five star meal, and it is very filling. You will truly have no regrets if you order this.
How do you like your spaghetti?
We tried the ham and cheese pizza and the four cheese pizza. In general, I really prefer the pizzas to the pastas (except for the delicious gnocchi, and my daughter gave high marks for the ravioli).
If you order the biggest pizza it can fill up four tummies and you may have to take home what is left of it. An alternative is to get two medium pizzas which are equivalent to the big pizza. Casa Mia serves 75 different pizzas and they often ask you if you want it tweaked in any way. The pizzas are made over a wood burning stove, and the restaurant makes its own dough and pasta.
I am a soup nazi. Most soups are pretty predictable and not outstanding, mainly because, I suppose, they are supposed to just be appetizers for the main meal. However, I look for outstanding soup. It is very, very hard to find a resto in the Philippines that serves tomato soup. it's even harder to find GOOD tomato soup in the Philippines. But Daniele Casa Mia has excellent tomato soup. i love soup that leaves a lingering taste long after you've had it. That is what the tomato soup is like at Casa Mia.
My daughter and her Italian boyfriend rated the ravioli as a five-star dish. Luca, my daughter's boyfriend, is a pizza chef in a restaurant in Australia and a great cook as well. I guess Italians recognize the real deal when they taste it.
When I review a restaurant, I always make sure that I pay my own bill and go there a number of times before asking for an interview. During the interview I don't mind the owner treating me to some of their food, because it is a chance to see what the resto owner recommends. I actually went to Daniele Casa Mia four times before interviewing him. He has a solid menu, and I'm recommending the dishes that I or a trusted friend or relative personally tried and loved.
My friend, Sockie Fernandez is a director of commercials. She has also done indie films, one of which qualified as an exhibition at the Cannes Film Festival, and another won an award at an Australian Children's Film Festival. We tried the red wine and it is truly delicious and highly recommended. It goes well with the pizza.
Afterwards, you can expect a free taste of their home made port wine. I noticed that the alcohol content varies depending on what you order. Because we had wine, the alcohol content was low. But at another time, when I went with my sisters, daughter and nephews, the alcohol content was higher, I guess because we hadn't ordered wine that day.
I highly recommend their pate which goes with their own, home made bread. You really must try it. It is a very delicious and a rather filling appetizer. I have yet to try their truffles, but definitely I plan to go back there for it.
Since Daniele is a paparazzo, I handed him my mickey mouse camera and asked if he'd like to shoot the oven for the article. He actually directed the shot as well as took it, telling the waitress how to pose and choosing the angle he wanted to shoot from. The food is made over a wood burning oven.
Gossip runs rampant in my part of town. I had heard from a neighbor that President Aquino has gone to Daniele's restaurant. So, I asked Daniele if the rumor was true, and he said, "Yes." He said that PNoy came with a large group of people.
I asked Daniele if he paparazzied him, and Daniele laughed and said, "No, no."
Son of the Father
Daniele's Casa Mia is the third Bellini restaurant (the other two are located in Cubao and Marikina), and the first restaurant to be situated in the South. It is very much like the first Bellini that father and son opened in Cubao. Here is a video of that first restaurant, which was featured on local television.