Time was when either Speedy or I decided where we’d eat as a family whenever we went out. That was way back when the girls were very young. By the time they were in high school, they had their personal preferences and there would be heated arguments about the choice of restaurants. It was maddening at times. We’d be standing in front of a restaurant, the girls would pout and then argue because one or both preferred to eat elsewhere. It got to the point when we decided to take turns choosing. If we ate at Sam’s choice one weekend, it would be Alex’s turn to choose the following weekend. All the years of arguing ended when Sam turned vegetarian. After that, we’d choose restaurants based on the menu. Was there at least one dish that Sam could eat? It was also fortunate that, by that time, the girls were old enough to be more considerate of each other’s preferences and choices.
And that was how it was late last night. Alex joined Upstart’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s Into The Woods as a last-minute addition to the technical crew and we suddenly had tickets to the technical dress rehearsal at the Kalikasan Garden in Bonifacio Global City. The show was not perfect yet (it was a technical dress rehearsal) but we enjoyed it tremendously. Alex had forewarned us that the play would run for three hours and I prepared myself (and Speedy and Sam, as well) with huge coffee floats (the movie version was such a disappointment and I thought we should be ready to get bored and sleepy). We didn’t really need the coffee, as it turned out, because the stage musical’s pace was faster and the performances were superb. We had a great time.
But, by the end of three hours, we were famished. We had to wait for Alex who was huddled with director Joel Trininad and the rest of the crew for the post-mortem. When she was finally able to leave, I was so hungry that felt I could eat a whole roast duck. The problem was that I didn’t know where to go. Neither did Speedy. We are so rarely in Bonifacio Global City and we’re familiar with only a handful of restaurants. Plus, it was late. Which was still open at 10.30 p.m.? Sam and Alex are more familiar with the restaurants there. Sam suggested Nolita which she knew stayed open until 2.00 a.m. Nolita, she said, serves meaty and no-meat pizza.
Nolita (short for north of Little Italy) is not cheap. Three slices of pizza, one cheeseburger, one canned soda, onion rings and potato chip fries cost over PHP1,400.00 (about USD31.00). To illustrate it even better, the average price for a slice of pizza is about PHP250.00. But, heck, the food (and service) was worth the hefty price tag.
I was so into eating that I totally forgot I had a camera in my bag. If Sam hadn’t asked if I wasn’t going to take photos, I would have skipped the photo ops altogether.
How should I describe the pizza? For someone who makes fresh pizza crust at home, I felt insecure for a moment. Nolita’s pizza crust is the best I have had in my entire life. No thick pan pizza crust at Nolita, just the thinnest crust underneath generous amounts of meat (roasted vegetables, in Sam’s case) and cheese. And the tomato sauce in between is really, really good. The pizza slices were extra large too. Speedy finished his (of course!) but Sam and Alex had to have half of their pizza slices wrapped to take home.
And the burger? When I about to pay for the food (it’s order, pay and eat at Nolita), the cashier summarized our orders. Four slices of pizza, she said… I said no, it’s three slices of pizza and a cheeseburger. The confusion resulted from the fact that there was a cheeseburger flavored pizza. Since I saw that the pizza slices had already gone into the oven for re-heating, I said, never mind, four pizzas would be fine. But the guy who was in charge of taking orders said, no problem, they’d take the extra pizza out and make the cheeseburger. And the cashier asked how I wanted my burger. Medium-rare, I replied. What cheese did I want on top, she asked. What are my choices, I inquired — did they have Swiss cheese? No, she said, and enumerated what they had. I chose white cheddar and paid for the food.
And the burger was a dream. The sandwich was not overly large but the patty was super thick — and no extenders; just premium meat. And it was grilled medium-rare just as I specified. Now, that’s a real restaurant that knows how to satisfy its customers. The white cheddar on top was not some flimsy slice either. There was enough cheese to allow it to drip down and almost cover the thick patty when it melted.
And the side dishes? The onion rings were exactly the way we like it — thick onion slices covered in a thin, crisp batter. The potato chip fries were about a quarter of an inch thick, perfectly seasoned and perfectly fried.
February 19, 2015 is the Chinese New Year and a lot of people will remember that day for the dragon dances and related festivities. I will always remember February 19, 2015 as the night of a wonderful musical theater experience and good eats with the best people in the world.