If you ever wander into the restaurant avenue that Aguirre Street in BF Homes, Parañaque, has become, Don Limone is one place you should check out.
Some of its regular clientele drive all the way from Quezon City or even Makati to have a meal, drink a glass of limoncello or just hang out with family and friends with a serving or two of tapas at this Mediterranean-inspired place.
Old-time favorite Pumpkin Soup, basically a puree of pumpkin with heavy cream, is laced with Italian almond amaretto liqueur blended with vegetable stock. The soup offers a lovely aroma with just the right amount of creaminess and a subtle taste of alcohol and sweet almond, enough to pique one’s taste buds.
Another well-thought-of dish is the Steamed Mussels Puttanesca, which is beer-braised mussels in spicy pepperoni-tomato-chili broth mixed with ham, olives and capers.
The Cabbage Roll, slow-braised cabbage stuffed with ground beef, rice, yellow peas and mint yogurt and bathed in spicy pomodoro sauce; and Hummus en Fuego, roasted-garlic hummus topped with hot pepper, olive oil, fresh basil, capers, olives and feta cheese and served with homemade flat bread, are two of the favorite appetizers in the menu.
Don Limone’s sassy version of pizza is Alla Bismark, thin-crust pizza covered with pomodoro sauce, roasted potato, lean bacon and mozzarella cheese. For a more rustic look, all pizzas are served with a freshly cracked egg on top that also goes into the oven. The entire experience is light and refreshing.
All pastas and their sauces are prepared fresh everyday.
Patatas Importante or Very Important Potato is an interplay of chicken liver, potatoes and herbs that go through a multiple cooking process—braised, sautéed and roasted—and served underneath a tender, juicy chicken breast. This Spanish dish goes well with the brandy-laced sauce.
Don Limone has been doing quite well since it opened five months ago. The owners, husband-and-wife Allen and Betty Tadayon, are pleased with the way things are moving in their dream restaurant. Both trained chefs, they are hands-on in running the business. Allen is in charge of the kitchen, while Betty handles the daily operations and pastry department.
“Food brought us together,” says Allen, an American who used to run his own restaurants in New York before meeting his wife Betty. “Don Limone is our first restaurant together. We both love to eat, cook and travel. So, I feel it’s only appropriate that we have our own place where we can showcase our culinary know-how and what we’ve learned and seen from our travels and work abroad.”
The couple met in Kuwait, where they worked in a restaurant. They’ve been married for 11 years now. They’ve moved to and worked together in different parts of the world like Africa (Nigeria, Kenya, Togo), Middle East, Central Asia and Southeast Asia.
“While still in Kuwait, I told my husband we should save up and do our own business in the Philippines,” says Betty.
When the couple came back home last year, they saw the booming food business, especially in BF Homes. They also frequented Aguirre Street to chill out, since they lived around Las Piñas.
The restaurant’s name, Don Limone, was inspired by the western coast of Italy where the Amalfi coast is.
“That’s where they grow huge lemon groves,” says Allen. “All houses have lemon trees and they make their own concoction called limoncello (an Italian lemon liqueur). In effect, we put a hint of lemon in all our food just to perk up the flavor.”
“Predominantly in Mediterranean cooking, there’s a lot of lemon and olive oil involved,” says Allen. “Either you use lemon rind or lemon juice. We use both, but we don’t try to overpower the food with them.”
Instead of throwing away the lemon rind, the couple turn it into limoncello. It goes through a process of fermentation and finally gets mixed with vodka.
“Limoncello has been a favorite in the restaurant,” says Betty. “We still have to work on how to bottle it for sale. So far, it’s just for consumption in the restaurant.”
Don Limone also has Spanish, Chilean, Australian and French wines.
Cozy and homey
Don Limone’s food goes well with its homey ambiance. The mood is relaxed and perfect for casual and intimate gatherings. The place can sit up to 120, including the al fresco dining area and the private room.
The walls, a mix of sunshine yellow and watermelon hues, are lined with framed old photographs and scenery of the Mediterranean Sea. There are also huge posters of the picturesque Amalfi coast in one corner of the room. One part of the wall features a handwritten menu of the month’s specials.
“We designed the place ourselves,” says Betty. “It’s non-intimidating so you can truly enjoy your food without being distracted by the things around you.”
Ending on a high note, Don Limone offers cheesecake—but in a broad array of flavors: New York Cheesecake, Bailey’s Irish Cheesecake, Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake, Tiramisu Cheesecake, Chocolate Supreme, Mango Melange, Kahlua Coffee Liquor, Amaretto Disaronno, Saffron and Dates, Limoncello Cheesecake, Blueberry White Cheesecake, and Pomegranate Raspberry, among others.
Betty incorporates the real flavor, like dates and saffron, into her cheesecake, instead of just changing the toppings to make a new flavor. The cheesecake comes out tastier and richer.
“We don’t use gelatin or too much flour in cheesecake,” says Betty. “Ours is 99-percent cream cheese, and you can barely see the crust.”
Don Limone is at 199 Aguirre Avenue, BF Homes, Parañaque City; tel. 3451803, 0932-8732316. Operating hours: 5 p.m. onwards.
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Photos by Alanah Torralba
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