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Italian Food Goes Deliciously Meat Free At This Cicchetti X Mesa Ni Misis Collab Dinner

Is it possible to enjoy Italian food without meat or dairy? Indeed it is possible, if I go by the upcoming four-hands, plant-based culinary collaboration between Juana Manahan-Yupangco of Mesa ni Misis and Chef Kim Suva of Cicchetti, happening this July 10 and 11 only at, where else, Cicchetti. We were given a preview of this blending of Cicchetti’s Italian comfort food roots with Mesa ni Misis’ plant-based focus during a media preview lunch held earlier this week.


Juana Manahan-Yupangco of Mesa ni Misis and Kim Suva of Cicchetti


For those who have been living under a rock and aren’t familiar with Cicchetti or Juana’s Mesa ni Misis, you’re in luck, as here’s the refresher course. Cicchetti, found at the 8th floor of the MDI Corporate Center in Bonifacio Global City, is an upscale, hip eatery and bar specializing in Italian cuisine. Cicchetti means “small bites,” and the restaurant has done a masterful job of creating a menu of tasty Italian comfort food that is quite singular.

On the other hand, Juana’s Mesa ni Misis is a unique advocacy that champions local and readily available vegetables and plants to be part of our daily menu. Whether for the home or in restaurants, schools, and company canteens, she has made genuine sustainability her rallying cry. Rather than succumb to fads and ingredients that are imported or grown here in a costly manner, Juana pushes for homegrown veggies and plants, that carry the same nutritional value as the imported power foods we read about in news portals and magazines, to be our first choices. That this can be done without sacrificing flavor or taste is part of her food equation.



During the preview lunch, to stay true to the Cicchetti equity, the first thing I had was a Cicchetti duo, with the Vegan Caprese being the more interesting thanks to the non-dairy cheese used in the prep. A Fritto Misto of sigarilyo, chicharo, and kalabasa followed, and it was a great way of showing just how serious Juana and Chef Kim are about staying true to the lokal food motif.


The Cicchetti Duo of Vegan Caprese and Pesto Cicchetti



Bahay Kubo Fritto Misto

The Singkamas Carpaccio was the antipasti, and on its own, was quite filling. There was a fresh, almost juicy quality to the singkamas, as it was served carpaccio style. The Upo Lasagna was the primo or first course, and this dish had more bite and more texture than regular meat lasagna, so be forewarned. Upo is bottle gourd, often mixed with ground beef to make ginisang upo, so this was a very interesting new use for this popular Filipino vegetable.


Singkamas Carpaccio


Upo Lasagna?


For the secondi course, the Tripa was the most interesting, with langka or jackfruit used to “mimic” tripe. Served with gluten-free bread, the dish was outstanding in keeping the flavor, taste, and texture of regular tripe. I had to constantly remind myself that this tomato-based sauce and langka wasn’t tripe.


The tomato-based Tripa or tripe made of langka or jackfruit.


The Gnocchi, our piatti primo, was made of kamote instead of potato. Juana and Chef Kim’s explanation being that potato isn’t Filipino, but an American tuber. Their version was served with garlic cloves, sorrel garnishes, and sage oil.


For the dolci or dessert, there was a wonderful Babà Napoletano al Rum, and what can be more traditionally Italian than this. This is one rum-spiked way to close the meal, and reflect on just how incredible this whole meal had been, while being entirely plant-based. 

Throughout the meal, nothing at all was lost in terms of flavor—some slight changes in texture and consistency perhaps, but it was definitely enlightening to look back and see how I ended up quite full, and yet I had not eaten meat, fish, or fowl. With this culinary collaboration, it’s all about combining flavors and realizing that vegetables and plants can be used with imagination and creativity. To see and taste is to believe, so book your table for these wonderful two nights.


Cichetti, 8/F MDI Corporate Center, 10th corner 39th Streets, Bonifacio Global City, (02) 987-4756

To learn more about Mesa ni Misis, visit



Photos from @cicchetti and by Philip Cu-Unjieng