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Mario's Kitchen, Katipunan

Thursday, November 12, 2015
Along Katipunan Avenue, there is this quaint restaurant called Mario's Kitchen. It has several no nonsense Spanish dishes on the menu and an impressive line of liquors including Portuguese wines as its arsenal. Daytime could mean a quiet but nonetheless satisfying dining experience at Mario's Kitchen. Come night time, the place easily transforms into a full on festive mode with acoustic band playing on the background.

I have very little knowledge about Mario's Kitchen prior to my visit, to be honest. Its limited online presence does not help either. So as per usual, I had to go with my gut feel which thankfully rarely disappoints me.

Mario's Kitchen Katipunan Quezon City
It turns out, Mario's Kitchen is a sort of offshoot from one of my all-time favorite restaurants, Mario's Restaurant in Tomas Morato and Baguio of the Benitez's. "Sort of", being the operative words since Mario's Kitchen is an entirely separate concept.

In a clan of restaurateurs, the famous Mario's Restaurant is handled by the big dads while Mario's Kitchen is handled by the kids and business partners. With several branches in the Metro, Mario's Kitchen aims to incorporate flavor of modern days without disregarding the sacred heritage that the mother restaurant provided them.

Inside Mario's Kitchen in Katipunan
Case in point, if a grand piano is the source of classic entertainment at Mario's Restaurant in Baguio and Tomas Morato, Mario's Kitchen features live acoustic bands. The food although given a slight revision from the classic, it still holds the charm of heirloom recipes well-loved by many generations. 
Mario's Kitchen Katipunan Branch
So the visit I had at Mario's Kitchen in Katipunan recently opened my eyes in this information I would have otherwise not know. Aside from the opportunity for additional knowledge, it was the total dining experience which made the visit all worth it.

Bar at Mario's Kitchen
I would be lying if I say that I didn't harbor any expectation after knowing that Mario's Kitchen is an offshoot. Yet, I did not allow my perspective to be locked in a concept of the usual child living behind its parent's shadow scenario either. After all, Mario's Kitchen have been very upfront about their desire to leave a foot print in restaurant landscape distinctly their own.

Mario's Kitchen Katipunan Menu
First on the table was the Traditional Caesar Salad (Php160) tagged as Mario's Classic. Although the presentation was devoid of the usual "prepared on table side" work of art known for Mario's Restaurant, the taste, by my estimate was in close proximity to the classic.

Caesar Salad, Mario's Kitchen Katipunan
Which made me wonder, had I seen the way this salad was prepared, will I also be left in awe just like the way I have always been when witnessing the passionate way that the Mario's Restaurant crown jewel was prepared? 

It is hard to tell. But what I am sure of judging from its taste, there was no single hint of bottled Caesar salad dressing that greeted my palate. Everything tasted fresh and well crafted.

The Classic Caesar Salad
The plump and juicy pieces of shrimp which flavor gave off a pleasant taste of garlic and spices was what made this Gambas Al Ajillo (Php225) impressive for me. Its tenderness I deem noteworthy as it strikes a fine balance between a texture that still has resistance upon bite and a texture that wouldn't wouldn't require an extra effort as you chew.

Gambas Al Ajillo Mario's Kitchen
Slices of garlic bread served alongside comes handy in mopping up the sauce of the gambas. But eating it on its own also proved to be delightful as it features a perfect crunch to it with soft center.

Succulent Shrimp of Gambas
Decors at Mario's Kitchen
The Lengua con Setas (Php285) is part of the Casa Classics served with rice and variety of steamed vegetables in season. I deliberately asked the food attendant to remove the rice as shown in photo below, since I am planning to try some of their paella offerings.

This dish is essentially an ox tongue cooked in mushroom and wine sauce which combination of flavor must be given credit as it turns out to be palatable. It tasted so good I found the use of canned mushroom forgivable. The tenderness of the tongue that effortlessly yields in every bite was a dead giveaway of the long hours it spent over fire.

Lengua con Setas at Mario's Kitchen Katipunan
Equally impressive was the Salpicon de Mar y Tierra (Php285) also served with steamed vegetables and garlic rice which I requested to be removed. This dish is a marriage between the garlicky gambas and beef salpicao - two of the best things in Spanish cuisine.
Salpicon de Mar y Tierra Mario's Kitchen
While the gambas made me confident with its goodness due to the previous course I have gladly partaken, the tenderness and the impressive flavor of the beef impressed me as well. There is a little kick of spiciness to it but not overwhelmingly so even for those who doesn't find happiness in spicy food like my companion. 

I could only imagine how good it would taste when eaten with garlic rice. No regrets though as there are couple of paellas to be savored waiting.

Tender Shrimp and Beef at Marios
Wooden interior at Mario's
There are three variants of paella at Mario's Kitchen; Seafood, Valenciana, and Meat. Serving portion also varies; single serving, to share, and for group. 

I opted for the single serving of the Seafood Paella (Php240) and a single serving of Valenciana Paella (Php230). The serving portion is quite hefty hence I am guessing that if there are other dishes on the table like ours, a single serving of the paella can very well be considered for sharing.

Mario's Seafood Paella
By appearance, one could easily surmise that there is a very light difference between the two. But aside from the toppings, the flavor dictates otherwise. The Valenciana features a depth of flavor owing to the fact that aside from seafood, it also got some pieces of meat - mostly chicken - to boot. The Seafood Paella on the other hand tasted somewhat lighter but equally satisfying nonetheless. 

Mario's Valenciana Paella
Baked in a brick oven, Mario's Pizza holds a certain authority to it that despite being in a pool of Spanish cuisine-permeated menu, they stand not to be overshadowed. 

Take for instance the Margherita Four Cheese Pizza (Php320). Behind its simplicity is a flavor that has the ability to lures one in to indulge, bite after bite.
It features thin crust which I always favor over its counterpart. The toppings lean on the generous side that a slice feels heavy on hand. 

Margherita Four Cheese Pizza Mario's Kitchen

Bar at Mario's Kitchen
As it was a rather humid afternoon, a glass of ice cold Homemade Citrus Iced Tea (Php80) needed to happen. Thankfully, Mario's Kitchen did not resort to the store-bought ones which I am not really a fan of when dining out. This homemade iced tea I find very refreshing with flavor that leans between citusy and sweet side of the spectrum.

Mario's Homemade Citrus Iced Tea
The Pandan Shake (Php90) on the other hand posses an ethereal-like appearance in its immaculate color. Devoid of the pandan leaf that stood on its center sandwiched in between grains of crushed iced, the photo below would probably be pointless since it will all be washed out. Such is the case when it comes to its flavor. It is the pleasant taste of pandan that holds everything together.

Mario's Pandan Shake
The coffee they offer at Mario's Kitchen is Malongo Coffee (Php85) - a brand which I love, one of my favorites as a matter of fact. Hence, in lieu of the dessert which I honestly cannot accommodate given my degree of satiety, I had a cup before going my merry way back to work at hand.

Malongo Coffee
Now the experience I had at Mario's Kitchen was a quiet but very filling lunch. I am still looking forward to visiting them during nighttime with some of my friends for their acoustic night. 

Mario's Kitchen Beverages
Aside from their impressive line of liquors and spirits, there are interesting Portuguese wines that they also serve. Mario's Kitchen is also a distributor of these wines, hence, they welcome customers who come in to buy bulk orders.

Portuguese Wines at Mario's Kitchen
It is always a pleasure to discover restaurants that offers really good food without meaning to dig a hole in ones pocket. Mario's Kitchen, although remained quiet for years is one of those which I must say deserve an attention as well.

Based on the food I have tried, they really do not completely disregard the virtue of staying true to its root, which for me is one of the highest form of respect, so I have give props to them for that. The prices are very reasonable and the service, thoughtful and efficient.

Mario's Kitchen at Katipunan Ave
Mario's Kitchen
Unit 1 Marmico Building
223 Katipunan Ave, Project 4
Quezon City
(landmark: in front of Kopi Roti Katipunan near Banapple)

2 comments on "Mario's Kitchen, Katipunan"
  1. You always take the best photos and the way you write is always beautiful. I really love reading your blog yedylicious. I'm checking it daily :) Your blog makes me want to go to Katipunan right now and try the foods at Marios.

  2. Malapit lang samin yan, mapuntahan nga!


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