CEBU -- Despite its celebrity pedigree, don’t expect posh fine dining touches at the fairly new Trattoria da Gianni, which is owned by the family of actor Matteo Guidicelli.
Located at the hip Crossroads in Cebu’s Banilad business district, Trattoria da Gianni translates to “small Italian restaurant by Gianni,” which is exactly what this is — a 60-seater, two-storey family-run eatery that offers Italian home cooking.
Gianni is the actor’s grandfather, who passed away last year. Despite the presence of several well-received Italian restaurants in Cebu, the Guidicelli patriarch, who hailed from Northern Italy, reportedly preferred to eat at home.
We would too, judging from the quality of the dishes that we tried during a recent trip to Cebu. Featuring family recipes, the menu consists mostly of rustic, traditional Italian dishes, with a substantial cheese and wine selection.
Here’s a sampling of what to expect:
Diners would readily notice that there are no pizzas on the menu. Instead, there are several kinds of bruschettes featuring traditional toppings like pesto, ricotta salami and parma ham. Since this is Cebu, they included one with mango and mozzarella — a refreshing and light starter to kick off your meal.
2. Ragu della Nonna
Trattoria da Gianni boasts of using only fresh pasta. The sauces are traditional like alfredo and marinara. But given the home-cooking concept, we opted for the Ragu della Nonna, which translates to grandma’s meat sauce. The well-balanced tomato sauce has that rustic flavor nicely complemented by the lightness of the pasta — comfort food, Guidicelli-style.
The mains again tend to be simple dishes like beef tenderloin, meatball and eggplant parmigiana. We chose this classic Italian dish (choose between pork and chicken), which arrived smothered with yummy tomato sauce for a filling main course.
4. Gnocchi with Asiago sauce
The restaurant has daily specials written on a blackboard and that day it was gnocchi, which definitely fits into the restaurant’s homely vibe. The strong Asiago cheese matches the hearty quality of this dish.
5. Tiramisu alla Nonna
The dessert choices here are limited but you really don’t need a long list because this one more than suffices — light in texture but with a deep flavor that’s a perfect ending for a relaxed meal.