By Rosemarie Reyes – SouthTrip Editor-in-Chief
Photos Courtesy of Juan Saavedra & Ramon Reyes
Southerners celebrate! If you have traveled to Baguio and discovered the flavors of AMARE LA CUCINA, you may now get your Italian fix without the four (or five, six…depending on traffic)-hour drive. Amare La Cucina just opened a new outpost in the south, specifically in Santa Rosa, Laguna.
The food is as delicious as you remember. Coffee served in Amare Paseo Santa Rosa comes all the way from Baguio too. Even the inside looks strikingly similar to the first Amare in the summer capital of the Philippines (that mural of Italian hotspots is found in every Amare restaurant). What’s more, you can even make your own pizza right inside the restaurant — a treat for kids! If tossing pizza dough is not your idea of a relaxing meal, simply choose from a selection of thin crust pizzas done exactly right.
Food of Amare La Cucina
SouthTrip recently sat down with two of the six owners of Amare Paseo Santa Rosa, Geejay Bravo and Martin Mendoza. They were quick to point out that what sets their pizzas well apart from other pizza joints, even those using brick ovens, is the exclusive use of wood. “You will taste the difference once wood is used, not gas, which is commonly used by others,” Bravo said with a smile. Amare Paseo Santa Rosa just opened in November 2019 and these owners — including their partners TY Mendoza, his cousin Ed Bustos (who established Amare in Baguio), Cathy Dela Cruz and Anj Crisostomo — expect that soon, they will be able to churn out a pizza in less than 5 minutes after ordering.
Of course, Amare offers other dishes that were first introduced in Baguio. Popular in the south are Alvin’s Pizza (named after founder and partner Ed Bustos’ brother), Sausage and Pepperoni Pizza, classic Pasta Aglio Olio, creamy Pasta ala Carbonara, Wagyu Pasta, Chicken Wings and the Wood-fired Ribs.
Inside Amare La Cucina
It was a sleepy afternoon when we dropped by to see if the hype was real, never having had the opportunity to try Amare in Baguio. You can say we belong to the laidback Southerners who feel at home, well, right at home. We left understanding why so many of our friends rave about it.
My fave: Marianne’s Salad, named after the only sister of Ed Bustos, with its balance of flavors and palate-pleasing crunch of greens (just love the crackle of crispy arugula leaves) with caramelized walnuts and sun dried tomatoes in a special dressing. My lunch mates preferred the fork tender Wood Fired Ribs and the healthy olive-oil based Pasta ala Sardines; it was the perfect dish after all the carbo-loading, sweets and just plain feasting that happened during the holidays. We all loved the fresh cooked Pasta ala Carbonara with cream, egg and a generous heaping of smoky, crispy bacon (home made in the Baguio kitchen) and Parmigiano-Reggiano. The pizza lovers on the table had a blast with the Pizza con Prosciutto (with homemade blended plum tomatoes, mozzarella, prosciutto, arugula olives and oregano) and the Sausage, Pepperoni and Mushroom Pizza (they also make their own sausage and pepperoni).
Amare la Cucina is Italian for “to love the kitchen” but Mendoza shared the inside scoop. “The restaurant name was also inspired by the names of the parents of the founders, (Mar and Edna Bustos), as well as the names of their children Alvin, Marianne and Ed.
To date, Amare la Cucina has four branches outside of the original in Baguio — La Union, Kapitolyo in Pasig, Tagaytay Highlands (which of course, only members and their friends can access) and the newest in Santa Rosa. The owners state that the menu and food quality you have discovered and loved in Baguio is the same in all branches, including Santa Rosa. Even better, the prices are pocket-friendly. “We have purposely kept the prices within reach so that people can easily enjoy an Amare meal everyday if they want,” said Mendoza. All dishes are good for sharing especially the pizzas, but go right ahead if you don’t want to share. We won’t judge.
What’s next for this band of food-loving entrepreneurs, some friends for many years, but all closer now due to their passion for eating and growing food businesses? “We plan to open another Amare in the south, this time in a huge mall,” declared Mendoza.
Definitely more good news for us Southerners.
For inquiries and reservations, call (0929) 599 7707. Visit Amare La Cucina at Paseo 4A Paseo Outlets, Greenfield City, Santa Rosa Laguna, open daily from 11am to 9pm. Check them out at @amarelacucinastarosa.