By Dennis Sadowski
MANILA, Philippines — When in Manila, there’s one place to do as the Romans do.
Where? Try the Ristorante delle Mitre (Restaurant of the Miter) in Manila’s Intramuros, the old city.
Ristorante delle Mitre in Manila’s old city is modeled after a Roman cafe and offers meals named for prelates connected with the Philippines and the Vatican. (CNS/Tyler Orsburn)
Among regulars, it’s known as Le Mitre, the Miter. It is located adjacent to the offices of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, across the street from San Augustin Church.
It’s modeled on a Roman cafe near the Vatican that is popular among priests and bishops visiting Rome on vacation or on official business. It certainly has a European feel, right down to the display cases of desserts that greet visitors as they enter.
Most of the restaurant’s dishes are named for Filipino church leaders with a few named for nuncios, priests and other prelates connected with the Vatican.
For instance, there’s the Palo Archbishop John Du Special Lugaw, a Philippine beef tapa served with dried pusit, which is squid. A dish named for Bishop Sofronio Bancud of Cabanatuan features crispy tilapia with coconut milk sauce.
Manila Cardinal Luis Tagle’s sweet tooth is highlighted in his favorite: silvana, a frozen cookie with a layer of buttercream sandwiched between two cashew-meringue wafers coated with cookie crumbs.
Everything is made on premises using locally grown and produced ingredients. Organic is preferred when possible. The menu includes vegetarian dishes. Seafood is a popular offering as well.
Sister Evangeline Paras, a member of the Missionary Catechists of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, supervises the culinary staff. Her background includes cooking for clergy in parish settings.
Costs are deliberately kept low so people of all walks of life can afford a meal. There’s also a special 39-peso meal — that’s less than $1 — for anyone, but especially those who work as a driver for a bishop or who are poor.
Employees have a say in the operation of the restaurant. And there’s a special program through which deaf people are hired in an arrangement with a local social services agency.
On Tuesday I enjoyed a beef pochero, consisting of short ribs cooked in a slightly sweet orange-mango sauce with traditional vegetables named for Bishop Prudencio Andaya of Tabuk. I topped off lunch with a not-too-sweet cinnamon apple cheesecake.
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