Why Margarita Forés is top of mind when I think of Italian food in Manila

You want delicious and authentic Italian food? Go to Cibo.

At a glance

  • To me, Cibo has delicious, authentic, beautifully plated dishes. This has become my kids’ go-to Italian restaurant, as well as mine.

MY NEW LOVE Tenderloin steak

Good authentic Italian restaurants are not easy to come by. Many decades ago, when a restaurant advertised they served Italian food, we had no choice but to accept the claim. Indeed, they were Italian but now that I know better, in terms of taste, they were far from Italian.

Then came the boom of the hotels in the metropoli, which came the opening of hotel restaurants—French, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, name it. Most of them brought in foreign chefs. Slowly, my eyes and palate got exposed to many authentic foreign cuisine. One of my favorites when done well is Italian.

I once asked a friend, a frequent visitor to Italy, “What do you think makes this cuisine so good?” His answer: “The freshness of their ingredients.” So simple.

Many of the foreign chefs who used to work at five-star hotels realized the potential of putting up their own businesses here. There was a lot of money to be made here. Most of them somehow succeeded initially while some didn’t last long.

Someone who didn’t work in a hotel but studied culinary arts in Italy is chef Margarita Fores, whom I met when she was a teenager. In one of the parties of her uncle Boy Fores, I remember she made a tuna pasta. It was simple, creamy, and so delicious. One could tell she loved to cook already and she was focused on Italian food. It has been decades, but I still remember this because the dish made an impact on me.

After she came back from her culinary studies in Italy, she opened what I believe was her first Italian restaurant—Cibo. To me, Cibo has delicious, authentic, beautifully plated dishes. This has become my kids’ go-to Italian restaurant, as well as mine. Food is consistent in any branch you visit.

We simply love it! I love her al dente pastas, depending on your craving for the day. Being a creature of habit, I always get the tuna with foccacia bread. On the side she has mayo, homemade chips, and rock salt. I love dipping the chips on the mayo and sprinkling some salt on the sandwich before I take each bite and hum away. Sarap!

Being on my forever diet, I stopped taking carbs, as in zero carbs. Don’t laugh but I think it’s working. My boobs are no longer that big. So, the last time I visited Cibo, I discovered something new to love—her tenderloin steak. Thin slices of this beef cut with garlic oil, pine nuts, and I’m not sure what herbs. Winner! Two thumbs up! I love browsing through any menu and on Cibo’s, two caught my eye—the Italian roast pork belly and the bistecca alla fiorentina. I have never tried a good bistecca. There was an Italian restaurant that opened somewhere in Rockwell, but their bistecca was not impressive. All my friends who have tried it in Italy rave about it. Plus, I see it on social media. So, on my next visit to Cibo, my eyes will be zeroed in on Margarita’s bistecca.

Another recent discovery was what a friend, Ton Roman ordered while we were at Cibo, also his favorite dining place, togethere—a grape shake. Cibo is the only place that does this, proof of Margarita’s creativity and imagination. It was so good I had two orders. Brain freeze! I also introduced it to my baby Danielle, who also loved it.

You want delicious and authentic Italian food? Go to Cibo.

Margarita has sped away and left many behind in her Italian cooking. Galing! She’s about to open a new dining concept that carries her name and signature. Watch out.

Meanwhile, Cibo has dozens of branches all over. I go to the one at U.P. Town Center, along Katipunan. 

Interested to join my Japan Food Tour in Hokkaido from July 11 to 18? Call Melody 0917 624 2819 or email [email protected]. Happy eating!’