MANILA – Young chef Paolo Moran is spicing up the menu at the decades-old Amici restaurant.
After years of working in the United States and Italy, Moran is back to help with the family business, taking over as executive chef.
“I wanted to get my own experience first,” the soft-spoken chef told ABS-CBN News and selected members of the media when asked why he only decided to work for Amici this year.
“My restaurant experience was mostly in the back-end, and I worked my way up.”
Moran has added new items to Amici’s menu, most of them based on dishes he has come across while living in Italy.
Each feels familiar but with a fun twist, staying true to Moran’s vision of keeping the brand fresh and interesting without losing its identity.
Amici started out as an Italian canteen at the Don Bosco Makati campus run by Salesian priests in the ‘90s, and was eventually bought by the Moran family.
“I love Italian cuisine and I fell in love with it… I want to continue that legacy,” he said.
“With our menu, we want to focus on the pizzas and pastas because that’s our core competence, but we also want to focus more on sharing,” he continued. “Amici is meant to be shared with other friends and family. Actually, that’s why I got into cooking, because I love to cook for friends and family. That’s the kind of identity I want the brand to portray.”
It’s easy to see that Moran is a fan of spicy food, judging from Amici’s newest offerings. There is the Seafood Diablo, which includes clams, scallops and spaghetti sautéed with chili flakes and a tomato cream sauce.
Also worth noting is the Spicy Italian Sausage Pizza, which is balanced out by a side serving of honey.
“Actually, it started out with just a sausage pizza with onion. Personally, I love spicy food… but I don’t want to ostracize anyone because not everyone loves spicy, so you kind of want to balance it. That’s where the honey came in,” Moran explained.
But perhaps the most interesting of them all is the Italian Burger, a first for Amici. Instead of the usual pure beef patty, Italian sausage and seasonings are added for a layer of texture and flavor.
And contrary to what other people may think, the dish is an Italian creation, according to Moran.
“I worked with this Italian chef before who helped me get started in Italian cuisine… This is one of his dishes… he was actually a consultant of Amici, but we met in Italy,” he said. “This is one of the dishes he taught me to make, the Italian burger. So since I’ve been doing it for friends and family, I thought maybe it’s time we share it with Amici also.”
“It’s not authentic Italian, but for me it is because an Italian taught me how to make it,” he added, laughing.
Amici has branches at Greenhills in San Juan, Don Bosco and Ayala Triangle Gardens in Makati, Tomas Morato and UP Ayala Technohub in Quezon City, Megamall in Mandaluyong City, Venice Piazza in Taguig, and Alabang Town Center in Muntinlupa City.