Farfalla means butterfly in Italian. But in Manila, it is a quaint, charming little restaurant located in Hotel Durban along Durban Street, just off Makati Avenue. I got very excited upon finding out that I was going to visit this area in Burgos, Makati. Coming back to this place brought back a lot of memories – my old flat which was just a few steps away from the restaurant, my old office, my friends and the places we used to frequent. It was like the butterfly led me to my old neighbourhood.
Farfalla’s facade is an all glass wall, conceptualised to allow natural light in to the building. Seeing it from outside on the street, it easily gives off an inviting ambiance, tempting people to walk in. I met the sole owner of the hotel and the restaurant, Antonio Jocson. With a small team, he manages the business from operations, production, finance and marketing. Oh, did I mention he is also the restaurant’s chef? And don’t get me started on the restaurant’s interior. Yes, he designed it himself.
Upon entry, I immediately noticed the ghost chairs and the marble top tables. The tone is very neutral and the style is very contemporary-minimalist to give the people the impression of a bigger dining space. The wall piece that was randomly stitched together makes an interesting and very unique art that is certainly an ice breaker. It’s made of neoprene fabric, exactly the ones used to make scuba diving wetsuits. It’s pleasant on the eyes and to the ears – yes, the ears, too! Although it’s not a musical art piece. It is actually an acoustic insulation to minimise the noise especially at night when people come to enjoy a few drinks. Burgos is very lively, even at night. So to give the hotel guests a pleasant stay, Antonio put together design elements that will differentiate Farfalla and Hotel Durban from the usual Burgos hotel and restaurant aesthetics.
Farfalla’s acoustic insulation wall piece adds that needed colour splash. It depicts the Earth colours – clouds, water and grassThe ghost chairs and the contemporary-minimalist design match the facade to give the impression of a bigger dining space This sculpture is also a functional lamp – a usual selfie backdrop of the guests
Hotel Durban was established in 1975 by Antonio’s mother, Ludi Jocson. Antonio took over in 2011 and that’s when he decided to restructure the business according to the market’s changing needs and today’s progressive trend. The full blown renovation was completed in 2013 and that’s when Farfalla came about. As Antonio said, “I like to grow things organically. I just waited for the right time”.
Antonio and his six other chefs in the kitchen do not work with any commissary. They make their own bread, pizza crust and pastas from scratch. Farfalla, comfortably seats about forty people. They start serving breakfast at 7:30am. They’re very much about giving a superb product at a reasonable price. So let’s go over some of their specialties and best-sellers.
First, I tried their Mozzarella Frita – fried, lightly breaded mozzarella on a bed of their special house marinara served warm and fresh. This dish is best relished when hot, so I immediately took my first bite. The coating was perfectly golden brown and crispy and the inside was an oozing, warm mozzarella. You might think it’s oily as it’s deep-fried, but the marinara magically took the oiliness away.
Whilst taking some good shots of my first dish, the second plate arrived. A healthy and colourful green salad. It’s Farfalla’s Insalata Di Arance, served with loose-leaf greens, orange slices, onion, olives and tomato, drizzled with an orange vinaigrette. I am a sucker for orange and this salad had that sweet, tangy finish that I absolutely loved.
I knew I smelled truffle as soon as this next dish landed on my table. Their Pappardelle Tartufate smelled so good. It was cooked with wide, home-made pasta with porcini mushrooms and white truffle cream. You may choose any kind of pasta that you please, but Antonio picked this one for me as it’s their specialty. The sauce was rich and creamy. The mushroom, the truffle cream sauce and the parmesan cheese blended flavours amazingly and it was an absolute blast. I’ve never tried anything like it.
If you are not a big fan of pasta in white and creamy sauce, here’s some good news for you. You might actually like their Tagliatelle Bolognese. This is flat pasta in a ground sirloin ragu with home-made tomato and red wine sauce. Luckily for me, I love pasta in red sauce just as much. The pasta was cooked to al dente as expected, and I could savour the freshness of the tomato that blended so well with the mildly sour red wine. There was a generous load of parmesan cheese on top that made a perfect balance of sour and salty finish. I’d say this one is a must-try.
I was almost full when the next dish arrived. But how could I possibly resist the Filetto Al Pepe Nero? The perfectly cooked, 180 grams (6oz) tenderloin filet with rosemary and green pepper sauce was waiting to be relished, and relish it, I did. The meat is cooked to the guest’s preferred temperature each time, I opted for medium-rare. The loin was warm and tender and the sauce was to die for. Served with Farfalla’s very own hand-cut frites and courgette on the side. As of that day, officially, I became a fan of green pepper corn sauce. I am most certainly coming back to Farfalla for this.
Saving the best for last, an all time Italian favourite settled in front of me as I finished making love to my steak. This is no ordinary pizza. La Porchetta has playful colours – the sauce, the cheese, the meat and the onion toppings got me glued to my chair for at least ten more minutes. The roast pork , mozzarella and garlic gremolata and the fresh red onions was a heavenly mix. I devoured it with enthusiasm and I was able to finish a couple of slices. You can never go wrong with Italian pizza.
Address: Hotel Durban, 4875 Durban St. Cor. Makati Avenue, Makati City
Phone: (+632) 895 4838
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 7:30am–10:30pm
Click here to order online
Born and raised in a multi-cultural environment and a firm believer that the best way to learn is to travel the world. He enjoys hiking and outdoor bootcamp. Daddy to a yorkie. His passion for arts, writing, food and business administration lead him to be foodpanda’s Senior Marketing Manager in Hong Kong and in the Philippines. Follow him on IG @madeinzane.