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A Mano Is The Buzziest Italian Restaurant Of The Moment—And We’re In Love

Respectful of Italian ingredients and traditions but not bound by them, Amado Fores’s a mano seems to hit all the right flavor marks

Though it is barely a week old and still on its “soft opening” phase, this Makati newcomer is already packing it in for both lunch and dinner service. The early verdict is out, and yes, I do agree that the food at “a mano” is indeed delicious.

 

a mano, which translates to “by hand” in Italian, recently opened along the Lopez Drive side of Rockwell’s Power Plant Mall. It is the brainchild and first restaurant venture of Amado Fores, the 28-year-old only son of multi-awarded chef-caterer-restaurateur Margarita Fores of Cibo di M, Cibo, Lusso, and Grace Park fame. Despite the pressure, Amado has certainly done his mother proud by putting together a formidable restaurant team to execute his vision of an Italian restaurant in the Philippine context.

A hands-on Amado Fores at a mano | Cyrene dela Rosa

As the restaurant’s name suggests, most dishes are prepared by hand. In a mano’s case, that means an open kitchen that prominently occupies the left side of the brightly lit, modern dining space done in white, yellow, and gray. This is the restaurant to go to if you are craving for unfussy, yet well-executed “classic” Italian fare amid a relaxed, casual full-service setting.


Interiors with a wall mirror view of the kitchen | Cyrene dela Rosa
The open kitchen | Cyrene dela Rosa

The restaurant’s opening menu is divided into easy-to-navigate sections: Antipasti (appetizers or starters, Insalate (salads), Pasta, Pizza, Dolci (desserts), and beverages. Handy and informative, the pasta and pizza sections are further sub-divided by regions to illustrate a particular dish’s origins.

Making pasta by hand at the pasta counter | Cyrene dela Rosa

a mano’s pasta section alone is a good enough reason to visit. The restaurant boasts the use of both fresh and artisanal dry pasta to make good versions of classic favorites like Bolognese, Vongole, and Carbonara, made as close as possible to the traditional Italian way—without the addition of cream.

During my first visit at a mano, I also enjoyed a light Cacio e Pepe Salad composed of romaine lettuce with grated Pecorino cheese, black pepper and balsamico dressing, as well as a super juicy, rosemary-infused Butter Chicken served sizzling hot in a skillet.


I got to try the Carbonara Pizza made the traditional way, just like in Naples, with the use of Caputo flour in the dough and baked in a Valoriani, the only commercial gas-fired oven certified by the Associazone Verce Pizza Napoletana. The pizza was good, but what I found interesting and liked even more was the crispy, pizza-sized, cheese-filled Italian flatbread or Foccacia di Recco.


Do save room for dessert, ranging from a trio of lightly-flavored Cannoli, to a well-balanced Tiramisu nicely flavored with premium Passalacqua Neopolitan coffee, to a not overly tart Crostata al Limone (lemon tart) topped with a sprinkling of grated cheese. You can finish the meal with a shot or two of espresso made from a mano’s top-of-the-line Faema espresso coffee machine.

You’ll have to try a mano yourself and find out why this new Italian gem is poised to become one of those rare restaurants that you’ll want to keep coming back to again and again.

 



a mano, R1 Level, Power Plant Mall, Rockwell Center, Makati City, (0917) 552-6266, IG @amanoph, open 11:30 am to 3 pm for lunch and 6 pm to 10 pm for dinner


Follow the author on Instagram and Twitter @cyrenedelarosa