Trufa, the country’s very first pasta bar, opens in Makati
I was greeted by an energetic, delightfully engaging, and bespectacled woman. Beaming at me and shaking my hand firmly, she welcomed me to the very first pasta bar in the country: Trufa Pasta Bar in Makati.
So, where exactly did Tricia Espino—Iron Man triathlete, Philippine Football Team member, serial foodie, and design major—come up with the idea of opening Trufa?
Favoritism at its finest
“Truffle is my favorite ingredient,” she said, already beaming at the mention of truffles.
“[After studying in Barcelona,] I wanted to bring a piece of me from Spain to Manila,” Tricia told Expat, adding that even the wood-and-black interiors of the restaurant was used to replicate her apartment in Spain.
So, together with her friend George Llorente from Catalan, the two pooled their resources, and by the end of June 2016, they soft-opened Trufa and officially opened just last Sept. 8.
According to Espino, the research and development for the entire restaurant concept took six months—two months of which were dedicated to finalizing the menu with head chef Miguel Maloto from Iloilo.
“Of course, it was trial-and-error at first, but we kept on innovating and improving our recipes until we came up with pasta sauces and dishes that we’re really, really proud of,” Espino said.
“This is how I eat at home: wholesome, fresh, no short-cuts. Chef Migs helped [put a bit of a gourmet twist to it].”
Today, Trufa has 12 homemade sauces, 14 various toppings, and 11 different kinds of pasta — all imported from Italy.
Everyone is encouraged to build their own pasta dish by (1) choosing the kind of pasta you want, then (2) choosing your sauce, and (3) picking a topping (or toppingsss) for your dish.
If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed about making choices, Espino suggests, “Be bolder when it comes to choosing your pasta and try to go for different layers of flavors.”
Aside from the do-it-yourself pasta bar, Trufa also has an excellent a la carte menu to choose from.
First, try the Zumos con Tubo, a beverage made of freshly pressed sugarcane juice mixed with fruit flavors. Calamansi is a crowd pleaser.
If you’re having a night out with friends or simply want to enjoy your pasta with the perfect partner, try their Sangria Blanca or Sangria Negra.
A sure-fire win on any table is Trufa’s Huevos Estrellados. Literally, it means “crushed eggs.” It’s a beloved, classic Spanish dish but Tricia and Chef Migs added their own local twist: their homemade beef tapa (fork-tender sweet and savory tapa flakes) and Chorizo de Ana (an heirloom sausage recipe from Tricia’s grandmother). The tapa and Chorizo de Ana lends its flavors to the fried potatoes underneath, while the fried egg oozes down to create a creamy waterfall of golden eggyolk.
When a dish carries the restaurant’s name, it better be worth it. And with Trufa’s Trufa Parpadelle with Setas, it is the star of the entire joint. The dish features al dente parpadelle pasta bathed in luscious cream-based truffle sauce and topped with sautéed mushrooms.
For those who are looking for something lighter, try their Asiatica Salad. It has crisp red cabbage, fresh romaine lettuce, slices of ripe mango, generous shavings of queso de bola (edam cheese), homemade asiatica dressing, and an extremely unique sweet and salty crispy fish flakes—a Trufa original.
Espino also suggests their Boloñesa de Casa and Carbonara Filipina. The Boloñesa de Casa has George’s heirloom recipe for the classic boloñesa sauce—slow-cooked for more than five hours for the perfect marriage of flavors; while the Carbonara Filipina puts an interestingly tasty Pinoy touch to a classic cream based dish: Crispy fried dilis (anchovies) and smoked fish.
Trufa’s signature cookie—aptly called the Trufa Cookie—is designed to look exactly like the Gaudi tiles found in Spain, which was also recreated at the restaurant’s porch. The flaky cookie has a truffle-infused chocolate and caramel filling.
Trufa is the perfect spot for gathering family and friends over great food and value for money. After all, there’s nothing like good food to bring people closer together, right?
Trufa Pasta Bar is located at 109 Esteban St., Legaspi Village, Makati. They are open from Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10p.m. For more information, call (02) 771-2581.
Text and photos by CHING DEE