MANILA -- When actor Matteo Guidicelli is not busy taping for his scenes in the nightly drama fantasy series, “Bagani,” or attending to other important personal matters, he spends time hanging out in his family’s newly opened restaurant, Da Gianni.
Da Gianni Cucina Italiana is the newest Italian restaurant south of Metro Manila at Westgate in Alabang, Muntinlupa. It is the second branch owned by the Guidicellis after Trattoria da Gianni, which opened in Cebu in 2016.
“Our family is from Cebu,” Guidicelli shares. “I was born there, but my grandfather is from Venice.”
The young Guidicelli speaks fluent Cebuano, English, Tagalog and yes, Italian.
The 28-year-old actor is, no doubt, the most prominent among the family. He is the eldest among the three children of Gianluca and Glenna Guidicelli. He has a sister, Giorgia, and their youngest is Paolo.
Gianni is Guidicelli’s grandfather, who passed away more than two years ago. Being the first grandson, Guidicelli is very close to his grandfather whom he fondly calls “Nonno.” His grandmother, Franca, or “Nonna” to her grandson, passed away earlier, eight years ago.
A wall in the function room of the restaurant displays a gallery of photos of "Nonno," as well as memorable shots of the family.
However, a keen eye will easily notice a familiar wedding photo, iconic, in fact, taken from the acclaimed Hollywood film, Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather,” with the Corleone family.
“That wedding scene was one of the favorite shots of my Nonno. That’s why we included it on that wall,” Guidicelli said. “'The Godfather' was one of his favorite movies.”
Guidicelli brags that he can cook – from main dishes to desserts. In fact, Guidicelli can easily whip up a mean version of tiramisu, from a base of lady fingers covered with mascarpone, chocolate powder and a dash of cake wine.
“Everyone in our family can cook,” Guidicelli beams. “A lot of the dishes in the restaurant menu were passed on by my grandparents to us.”
Pasta, which is merely a side dish in Italy, according to their business partner Pisha Abrille, is served “for sharing” at Da Gianni. The Spaghetti in Shrimp and Scallops red sauce is a bestseller on Da Gianni’s menu.
Anything with truffles, said Abrille, is also a must-have, like the Parpardelle, Da Gianni’s homemade pasta noodles with parmigiano and black summer truffle paste.
The Quattro Formaggi pizza, four cheese topped with truffles, as well as the Prosciutto and Arugula, are easy orders even to go.
The salads (insalate) are served generously, like the Arugula with Prosciutto di Parma and Parmigiano and Caesar Salad, with homemade dressing.
Porchetta is a savory, boneless pork belly with crunchy skin and stuffed with herbs. Undoubtedly, porchetta is one of the bestsellers on Da Gianni’s menu. Another one is the Slow-Cooked Shortribs, eight-hour oven cooked ribs, served with mashed potato.
Since the restaurant opened in early March, it is not surprising to see local celebrities dining at Da Gianni every now and then.
Guidicelli, in fact, celebrated his 28th birthday last March at Da Gianni. The event was attended by celebrities close to the actor.
Among the familiar faces who frequent the cozy restaurant are Martin Nievera, JC de Vera, Rowell Santiago, Christine Reyes, Carlo Aquino and, of course, Sarah Geronimo, who is Guidicelli’s girlfriend.
Recently, Nievera even taped an episode of his soon-to-premiere show on ANC, “Long Story Short,” at the restaurant.