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FIRST CLASS

Our go-to delicatessen now has a restaurant

/ 05:26 AM September 16, 2018

Brera Delicatessen (left). —PHOTOS BY MARGAUX SALCEDO

It’s good news when a delicatessen expands to become a restaurant as, generally, you can be assured of dishes that use the best imported ingredients.

That is the goal of Brera as it opens a restaurant at its new prestigious address at Park Terraces, Greenbelt.

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The cooks and gourmets among our readers are likely familiar with Brera, located on Yakal Street in Makati, as it has been a supplier of fine cheese and other imported ingredients since 2012. You might also remember Sinan’s butchery (Sinan is the owner of Brera).

Two years ago, Brera opened another outlet at Molito in Alabang. This coming October, it will formally open its Makati branch, which is on soft opening now.

Brera, although it serves an array of European selections, is named after the famous district in Milan, that once-upon-a-time Bohemian art district that is known today for its food and wine and fashion and design scenes. Alan Durante, manager of Brera, explains the restaurant was inspired by the Italian mercato, where one can get great cheese, cold cuts, bread, charcuterie, steaks and even wine all in one place, in a casual setting.

Brera interiors inspired by Milan

While the restaurant is inspired by the Italian market, what stood out for me were their Mediterranean dishes like hummus and stuffed grape leaves. I hope they also bring to Makati the Mediterranean platter available at their Molito branch.

Alan, however, recommends Brera’s pizzas. To date, they have 17 flavors. He is especially proud of their pizza because they have a wood-fired stone oven that they imported from Italy and use wood from their farm in Batangas. They also use aged dough that they ferment themselves. Meanwhile, the cheese they use is from Campania, Italy. And the herbs are from their own farm in Tagaytay.

Alan also enjoys Brera’s burgers. They make seven kinds, all inspired by the food capitals of the world. Aside from the Brera burger which is the most basic or, as they call it, “old fashioned,” they have a Romano, which is obviously Italian-inspired, using mozzarella and sun-dried tomatoes, with the addition of grilled mortadella (how very Italian!) and pesto cream.

They also have a Francophile, inspired by flavors of the French, using Bearnaise sauce, Roquefort cheese and an onion confit with sauvignon blanc. They have a Spanish burger called El Conquistador, which uses aged Manchego cheese and roasted sweet red pepper. There is also a Greek-style burger, which is Alan’s favorite, unique in its use of a tapenade of black olives, cucumbers and feta cheese. And, of course, the good ol’ American burger, which they call The Lone Star, using cheddar cheese and barbecue sauce. It would be fun to keep coming back just to try each one.

Paolo Durante, the charming Italian manager of the Brera Makati (no relation to Brera overall general manager and food adviser Alan), suggests to enjoy the burgers medium rare, as I was convinced to do during my visit, and he was right. The burger, which is generously thick, is truly more juicy that way and you can really appreciate the quality of the meat, albeit on a regular day I would just eat a burger done simply medium.

One must also try the Brera pasta, a recipe of Alan, which uses a variety of herbs including oregano, basil and tarragon, from their farm in Tagaytay. It is cleverly enveloped in a thin cloud of dough that you must break to get to the pasta, making it extra fun to eat.

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Alan also recommends the charcuterie platters, especially the Spanish platter that has a selection of Spanish cheeses such as Manchego alongside jamon and olives.

Sinan, however, is most proud of their steaks. Brera has a dry-aging space right in the center of the restaurant where you can see their US, Japanese and Australian steaks being aged before your eyes. Alan explains they have really taken pains to get into dry aging, which they can do for up to 75 days, because it really enhances and intensifies the flavor of the steaks. Paolo adds that with temperature control and humidity control, the moisture is taken out from the meat. Also, in that longer period of dry aging, enzyme activity improves meat tenderness. The meat effectively loses weight, which translates to lost income, but the added tenderness and flavor makes it worth it.

For dessert, Alan recommends the Ube Malibu Cheesecake, which I have to come back for. I tried instead the Limoncello, which has a beautiful tartness to it. It uses real lemon peels left from when they make their own limoncello.

Best of all, the ambiance makes you feel like you are stepping into a shop in Italy. I will probably come here to simply order off the counter and have prosciutto and wine all day.

Brera Delicatessen. G/F Park Terraces, Greenbelt. Open daily from 11 am to 10 pm. Major credit cards accepted. Wheelchair accessible. Basement parking available. For reservations, call 0926-672 9246 or 0999-130 6479 or 0915-213 8304.

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