Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Taste of Pampanga in the City: Villa Cafe

Like it? Share it on Facebook or Twitter!

Pampanga, which is located 75.8 kilometers away from Manila, is considered as the Gourmet Province of the Philippines. With its exquisite, imaginative and exotic dishes as well as fancy confections, there is no doubt that the Kapampangan cuisine stands out from other local dishes in the country. The locals' flair for cooking and their passion for eating heartily is also well-known that is why many head to Pampanga for a gourmet getaway with family or friends. As for those who do not want to go out-of-town for a taste of  Pampanga's rich cuisine, they can always go to Villa Cafe at Makati City.

 Manyaman keni. (Food is delicious here.) 

Villa Cafe is a collaboration of celebrated chefs Sau del Rosario and Jam Melchor. Both chefs grew in Angeles, Pampanga. Thus, the restaurant's menu features food based on heirloom recipes from their families. Just like their restaurant's classy yet laid-back style, Villa offers Kapampangan food with a refreshing twist. The result is a delectable and sumptous array of dishes that will satisfy every palette. Some of their offerings are:

Kapampangan Pizza:  An appetizer that's also perfect as a snack, this thin-crust pizza boasts of a wealth of toppings such as ebun buru (salted egg), smoked fish flakes, organic vegetables, Pampanga longganisa and goat cheese. It may seem overwhelming but the crisp crust, flavorful toppings and fresh aroma will make you forget about pepperoni and mozzarella. Best of all, it's not heavy on the stomach.

Gule Marangle:  Pampanga's version of Pinakbet, this vegetable stew teases the palette with its crunchy pork cracklings, succulent shrimps, tender okra and eggplant and sweet bitter gourd. Although it has bagoong (shrimp paste), the pungent smell characteristic of Pinakbet is surprisingly absent.


Tender US Lengua:  The creamy mushroom sauce and chewy corn kernels complements the soft ox tongue. It was surprisingly delicious.

Relyenung Bangus: Villa's stuffed milk fish with creamy relleno jus is an exceptional way of presenting a classic fish dish.  It's big on flavor, smoky and satisfying.

Short Beef Ribs Kaldereta*:  This tomato-based meat stew has fork-tender ribs and a kaldereta sauce that's meaty and full of flavor. The mashed potato may seem out of place but its perfect for scraping the rich sauce off the plate.

Pastel de Lengua:  This is pastel de lengua sans the pastry crust. The fresh champignons, carrots and olives add refinement and texture to this traditional Kapampangan dish of boiled ox tongue. 


Boneless Crispy Pata: The star of the menu, it's a combination of two popular feast dishes: Crispy Pata  (deep-fried pork knuckles) and Kare-Kare (peanut-based stew). The mouth-watering  pork knuckles has crackling skin and tender meat while the kare-kare is light and has that perfect balance of sweet and savory.  It comes with a small bowl of Kare-Kare sauce that can be enjoyed even without adding bagoong.

Aside from these dishes, the exotic Fried Kamaru (crickets) and Bulanglang are also worth a try. Villa's menu is also quite helpful for first-time diners as there are notes (in red script, like margin notes) on what dishes one should try or what drink goes well with a particular item on the menu. The restaurant staff is friendly and knowledgeable, too, making dining more pleasurable. 

Dining at Villa is like eating out of town sans the long drive. Individuals won't be put to shame when they recommend this to their friends with epicurean tastes or visitors seeking great local food to enjoy.  

Villa Cafe is located at Glory Building, Yakal Street, San Antonio Village, Makati City. It's open from Monday to Sunday, from 7:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.Villa's on the same building as LA Car Accessories and Gravity Workz. It's just across Avida West Tower 2 Condominium. Parking is limited but staff can assist guests in looking for parking space if needed. 

Recommended for:  groups,  families (with or without children) and  foreign guests.  The restaurant accepts walk-ins though I'd recommend that one makes a reservation at 02-4782659 if dining with a group.   Take note that the restaurant has an open kitchen concept so the food's odor may stick to your clothes. 

- The Short Ribs was a substitute for the Braised Lamb Shanks in Kaldereta Sauce which was not available during my recent visit.


  1. I want to try the Kapampangan pizza. I'm not a fan of lengua but I crave for one seeing your photo. I just wish that my dinner will be this good later. :)

    1. The Kapampangan Pizza was really good that we had to order another one! Bring your friends to the resto, food is good for sharing. :)

  2. Thank you so much for visiting villa cafe! We'd love to see you again.God Bless!

    1. I'd definitely come back for the Kapampangan pizza and the crispy pata :-)

  3. Wow, may comment si Chef Jam!


Got something to share? Leave a comment.(Just make sure it's not nasty.)