Saturday, July 23, 2016

Saturday, July 23, 2016



What's one to expect when dining in a Mexican-Italian restaurant in Baguio City? It's probably the last thing you'll look for in the city of pines because there isn't any of its kind -- at least in the most authentic way -- until the recent opening of Masa Mexitalian Grub. Located at the busy village of Trancoville, the restaurant doesn't really stand out in the cascading layers of homes and commercial buildings because it's where most migrants are known to have settled in the city. Anything new is never exotic here. It's simply interesting.

For my revisit of Baguio, I tagged along a friend to this tourist-thronged part of Benguet for a chance at a memorable meal of Mexitalian treats. At a refurbished residence that used to house transients in the area, Chef Geo stepped out of his kitchen to welcome me and my travel companion one weekday afternoon for late lunch. It was just a couple of hours after our six-hour bus trip and check-in at the relatively new lodging called Baguio GM Apartel. The 30-year old guy didn't strike me as the typical chef who seems to be literally stuck in his area of expertise. He's lean and looks to be physically active in his free time. He also owns the place which he shares with his sister who operates the popular Singaporean-Malaysian rice meal restaurant called Hawker in the same nook.

Prawn Feta
Beef Ribs
Artichoke Pizza (6-inch Solo)

7-Month Old Baby

After a stint abroad and with a chance to start his own restaurant in the Philippines, he realised that Mexican and Italian dishes have become a part of the Filipino diet so much so that some even have them both in a day. Since he grew up in Baguio City, he decided to come home and open Masa Mexitalian Grub which he envisions to have outlets elsewhere soon.

Affordable Beef Ribs

We started our meal the hefty way with an order of the Beef Ribs. It's got a zesty salad for siding anyway which I forked as appetizer. Customers can order it with rice but we had ours with fries because I needed the garlicky taste of its aioli dip to contrast the smokiness of the fall-off-the-bone beef. For only P250, it's basically a steal because it's great for sharing.

3-Meat Pizza (6-inch Solo)
Prawn Feta Surprise

I decided to segue my palate to something light but equally flavorful -- Masa's version of Prawn Feta. This pasta started off as nondescript basically because my palate was previously overwhelmed with the flavors of the rib sauce, the vinaigrette, and the dip. It was when I tasted the shrimp along with the mild and creamy feta cheese that I got some balance back in my tongue.

Pizza Feast

To cap our visit, we proceeded to have a slice of each of the four pizza flavors we ordered -- Pistachio, Proteinata, 3-Meat and Artichoke. Since we can only handle enough servings for the meal, we decided to order the first two flavors in 12-inch format and the other two in half the size (6-Inch Solo) which is popular with students in the area.

Pistachio Pizza (12-inch)

Before he returned to the kitchen to prepare our meal, Chef Geo mentioned that he's particular with how his pizza dough should taste like. Since he managed to work for a pizzeria abroad, he wants to capture that essence of Italy's favorite snack in his roster of pizza flavors. Having tasted at least four of them that afternoon, I suddenly recalled my first restaurant review in college which I did at an Italian restaurant in Makati City for a weekly women's magazine. The typical Fiorentina, Veneziana, and Napoletana pizza dough is known to be light and chewy all over and crispy on the underside which is exactly how Masa's own pizza crust tasted like.

Beef Ribs

Must-Orders: Pistachio and Artichoke

As for the flavors, the Pistachio and Artichoke pizzas were clearly memorable to me for being versatile in taste. The remarkable pesto in the Pistachio Pizza stood out for me as the grated pistachio, sun-dried tomatoes, and mozzarella made the resulting taste creamy. As for the Artichoke Pizza, its main vegetable ingredient -- the artichoke -- looked intimidating at the onset, but it definitely didn't impose any annoying exotic taste that you won't have lingering in your palate because it basically enhances the taste of the other ingredients it's prepared with. In this case, it complemented the spinach, which can taste bitter on its own, and the other stuff that the flavor's made up of -- capsicum, onions, and mozzarella.

More Pizza Flavors To Order

For pizza lovers who are after a power-topped crust that's rich in protein, I highly recommend Masa's Proteinata which is loaded with sausage, smoked bacon, potatoes, egg, and mozzarella.

As for meat lovers, the restaurant's 3-Meat Pizza is always an attractive choice because of its mix of sausage, pepperoni, bacon and mozzarella which just tastes meaty all over.

Proteinata Pizza (12-inch)

Private Parties

If you have a celebration coming up in Baguio City, Masa accepts catering services and reservations for private functions and parties. The restaurant customizes menu packages for those who want more of what's being offered, so just let them know if you'd like to go off the menu.

Masa Mexitalian Grub is a charming fusion restaurant that offers something new and interesting in a laid-back setting in Baguio. Come and visit soon!

Masa Mexitalian Grub

Address: DC Lane, 65 Alfonso Tabora, Trancoville, Baguio City, Philippines
Mobile: 0917-473-9169


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