A new wine bistro that kicks up the Italian dining experience a notch has opened its doors in Bonifacio Global City. It’s the 23rd location for Korea’s popular Mad for Garlic restaurant, which has also been making waves in Singapore and Jakarta.
Mad for Garlic is at its heart, a place for wining and dining on Italian-style pizza, pasta, salads, rice dishes, risotto and steaks, highlighted by a tasteful profusion of garlic. Garlic bulb-shaped lamps and garlic wreaths decorate the interiors, along with walls of wine bottles. It feels like an Italian wine bistro but a look at the menu reveals that there is so much more.
The Blog Almighty had a chat with GRCI President and CEO Archie Rodriguez and he shares his thoughts on how diners will soon be Mad for Garlic.)
|Archie Rodriguez (center)
TheBlogAlmighty (TBA): There are other themed restaurants out in the dining scene today. What sets Mad for Garlic apart from these other specialty ingredient restaurants?
Archie Rodriguez (AR): Mad for Garlic is a wine and garlic restaurant that showcases garlic-themed dishes using different varieties of garlic and cuts. We are unique for offering Italian cuisine with a twist of Asian flavors.
TBA: Considering that the restaurant originated in Korea, what inspired the Italian cuisine with a Korean twist to the garlic-centered menu?
AR: Our Korean partner, Caroline Nam, simply loved Italian food. She realized that people in Korea really loved garlic as well, which is a main ingredient in Italian cuisine. So with that in mind, she and her team created this wonderful concept of Mad for Garlic about 13 years ago. There are now 22 locations across Korea, Jakarta and Singapore and this is their first venture into the Philippines. One will find that Italian dishes served here at Mad for Garlic not only stand out because of garlic, but because they are uniquely flavored.
|Archie Rodriguez being interviewed by Lifestyle Media
TBA: Will you be using local garlic varieties for your dishes? Do you use different garlic varieties for different recipes or just one?
AR: There are about a thousand varieties of garlic and several of them are cultivated uniquely in Korea. The country, in fact, is considered one of the world’s premium producers of quality garlic. Here at Mad for Garlic, we use our local garlic varieties.
TBA: For a first-time guest, how would you describe the overall dining experience to them?
AR: Mad for Garlic presents one-of-a-kind Italian cuisine in a modern wine bar setting. It has a great ambiance to enjoy a meal with a special friend, or maybe talk business or even to celebrate a special occasion with family and friends. We offer a menu of pasta, pizza, salads, rice dishes, steaks and other entrees. Of course, these wonderful dishes are highlighted with a touch or more of garlic. We recommend that guests also try our desserts, some of which also showcase garlic.
We’ve found that many of our guests don’t think our dishes smell strongly of garlic, perhaps since we use different cuts and varieties. Mad for Garlic is actually a great place to take your date, as so many of our guests do in Korea.
TBA: What are your most popular dishes in all your 22 locations across Korea, and in Singapore and Jakarta?
AR: Garlic Snowing Pizza is number 1, and has become a huge favorite in all our locations. It’s a mildly sweet garlic thin crust Mad for Garlic pizza topped with shrimp and diced pineapples. Gorgonzola Pizza, topped with Italian Gorgonzola cheese and served with honey dipping sauce, is the second most popular dish we have. For pasta, it’s the Garlicpeno Pasta. It’s a Mad for Garlic special pasta served full of garlic and Mexican peppers. The Creamy Taraco Pasta is also a bestseller, made of fusion style cream sauce pasta with Pollack roe.
Guests also like our Zuppa di Pesce, which is a special spicy soup that has different varieties of seafood, and is served with bread.
|Garlic Snowing Pizza
TBA: What do you predict will become a favorite in the Philippines and why?
AR: We think Garlic Snowing Pizza will become a hit here as well. It has a good mild sweet flavor, comes well mixed with garlic, and is nice and crispy. Also, we think the Dracula Killer, Tutto Mushroom Salad, Crab & Lobster Pasta and Dancing Salsa Rice with Steak will appeal more to the Filipino palate.
TBA: How many more locations are you considering in the Philippines? Where would your next store be?
AR: We hope to open two to three more stores this year, possibly in prime locations in Makati and the Ortigas area. Some of our options are Greenbelt, Shangri-la Mall or Power Plant Mall.
TBA: Mad for Garlic is also renowned for its wine and beverage menu. What are some of your wine recommendations for some of your specialties?
AR: In general, we would recommend dry, sweet wine for our spicy and garlicky menu. Our white wine selections would also go very well with the cheese platter.
TBA: Would you allow new menu items to be developed and introduced by the local team?
AR: Not yet. We would like to focus on the original Mad for Garlic menu for now. We’re excited to be offering a menu that is already being enjoyed across Asia and we’re confident it will be accepted and enjoyed here, too.