Altrove Trattoria | Finding The Best Italian Dinner in El Nido, Palawan

  • Altrove Trattoria is located along Calle Hama near corner of Osmena Street Barangay Masagana, El Nido, Palawan.
  • Altrove Trattoria  is a casual dining restaurant that serves Italian dishes.
  • Recommendation: Con Prosciutto Crudo, Php 510 - mouthwatering air-dried parma ham and olives on crushed tomatoes and mozzarella.

Should you have a plan to visit El Nido anytime soon, then I guess you already have a list of things to-do, itinerary, and travel guides. Look again and see to it that dining-in at Altrove is included in your list because dining here is an unforgettable gastronomic experience itself.

Last supper at Altrove has become my legendary ending whenever I visit this crowded but extraordinary El Nido Municipality. There are great pizza, al dente pastas, delicious prosciutto, and risottos to choose from the menu - all made from top quality ingredients. Pizza prices ranges from Php 320 to 645 and you can create your own pizza just like we did the last time we've been here. Meat and selection of wine plus ice cream, their home-made gelato  and desserts are also available but I haven't tried yet. So, I have valid reason to go back again :-)

I was with my brother, Ramil, nieces Chel (and BF BeeJay) and Phoebe. Their group had an island hopping during the day and was tired from the whole day of swimming and photo shooting. I stayed in our rented room in town and spent the whole day sleeping while waiting for them to return. They returned early and decided to take a nap but when dinner time came and hunger kicked-in, Chel and her BF referred to trip advisor’s top restaurants in El Nido and settled to brave the long queue at Altrove. We stayed along Buenas Swerte and strolled along the beach to reach the restaurant  located along Calle Hama near corner of Osmena Street Barangay Masagana.

We waited for nearly an hour without plans of backing-out as the wood burning pizza brick oven was just right beside us, burning. From where we were standing we could see the staff kneading the crust... and the smell of the cooking pizza dough from the distance as we waited in line was hmm, like an invitation to everyone not to give up waiting to be able to try the delicious pizza the restaurant was known for. 

We ordered 2 sets of generously cheesed pizza, 2 sets of huge portions pasta, and iced tea for drinks. Pizza was made with imported mozzarella and had large amount of cheese that complements the quality ingredients. The crust, as I’ve expected was cooked to perfection! 

Con Prosciutto Crudo, Php 510 - mouthwatering air-dried parma ham and olives on crushed tomatoes and mozarella.

Quattro Stagioni, Php 470 - the famous 4 season mushrooms, Artichokes, Ham and Olives.

Sourcing ingredients and logistics going to El Nido is a big challenge from what I heard, considering the location and mode of transportation. Impressive! Salute to this restaurant for delivering us and its clients the best of Italian dishes at this far, far destination. 

Quattro Stagioni Php 470, the famous 4 season mushrooms, Artichokes, Ham and Olives.

The pastas were great - al dente, fresh, and delicious but a bit short of cheese so we asked for more parmesan cheese.  We had All’ Arrabbiata - Tomato, bacon, garlic, chili, paprika, parmesan and also Fruitti di mare, zesty mixed seafood with tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and herbs.

It was an old residential home turned to restaurant. Place is cozy and has a relax ambiance. An Italian restaurant with Asian feel, as you remove your shoes before you enter. 

Overall it was a great experience with reasonably priced, huge portions food, and has very nice atmosphere. Early or late dinner is recommended if you don't want to wait in queue.


As half of the world are experiencing more scorching temperatures this weekend and the Philippines braces for heavy rain, flooding and upcoming typhoon, here I am dreaming and thinking about what happened two years ago when Trixie and I visited the famous El Nido where its beach, enchanted lagoons, and limestone cliffs makes every hour of our travel worth it. It’s been voted world’s best multiple times — and it’s a magical beauty. The sea is warm, lagoons are for paddling, coral reefs for snorkeling scattered from island to island around Bacuit bay.

It's been a day of island hopping and we headed to our last destination: Seven Commando Beach. This is where we spent the remaining time of the day to relax and cool-off extra adrenaline and enjoy a glass of cold refreshments and food sold at the beach. 

Food, iced cold beer, margaritas, and seasonal fruit shakes are available from the beach's bar. I had mango shake prepared by this young boy whom I learned as the son of the owner of the nearby cottages along the shore, spending his summer vacation worthy attending their small bar. Mango shake was rich, sweet and creamy, not bad for a price of Php 120.

Boats were already lined up at the best spot of the shore and the beach was already crowded when we arrived. All nipa huts are occupied by tourists so we roam around and  swung the tree swings we found at the beach. Trixie proceeded to swim for the last time as I headed to the shore and enjoyed the sunset scenery.

Seven Commando Beach is a nice place to chill. The sun shines directly at Seven Commando Beach which makes it ideal for sunbathing. It has a wide sandy beach lined with coconut trees and you can do a lot of activities. 


It was right after almost an hour of Snorkeling, swimming, and fish feeding when we were told to be ready, we're about to go to our next destination: Secret Lagoon. 

I was skeptical at first and planning to just wait by the boat and spend more time swimming because of bad experiences I've read online. I tried to convinced the first-timer Trixie that it's just a waste of time, nothing to see, but she's very persistent to just see the lagoon. She recalled my promise to be her personal tour guide when we were planning this vacation, so I had no choice but go.

Contrary to its name, "Secret Lagoon" in Miniloc Island doesn't seem so secret anymore. Perhaps, tourists were so curious by its name that they don't want to miss the lagoon while on island hopping to see its "secret"? The beauty that enchants me years ago when we were in El Nido for our thesis is now gone. That's the painful secret. 

Fascinating as it may seem but beauty turns ugly when it’s devoured, disturbed and consumed. 

Nature has a mystery of beauty. Supposedly, it should be the closest thing to heaven, to experience paradise where you feel total serenity inside the lagoon alone, surrounded by crystal clear waters. The moment flashed back when I was floating here uninterrupted looking through the limestone cliffs that open to blue sky but it was more than ten years ago when influx of tourists are low and visitors are responsible, knows how to respect the nature, and protect the environment. 

This time it’s different. It was chaos. 

Secret Lagoon in El Nido is exhausted – it needs rest to heal and be essential again back to it's purpose.

I may recommend you to skip this part if you are scheduled to enter at the middle of bustling crowd. In case you are the first group to enter the lagoon, first thing of the day, then fine,  you may proceed to go through small hole of the limestone rocks crawling against the sand and rocks and you may be lucky enough to see the untouched scenery with clear green water. Protective gear is advised but you can go through without any. Just be careful.

Last Stop: Commando Island

It's a Match | The Cravings Group Brews Exciting Partnership with Di Bella Coffee

One of the world’s foremost and prestigious coffee brands – Di Bella Coffee of Queensland, Australia has arrived in the Philippines. And as a forager of good tasting, lovingly made, and perfect to the last sip  cup of  coffee, I didn't hesitated but was very thrilled to attend their launch yesterday. 

We had dessert pairing held at Epicurious, L/G East Wing, Shangri-La Plaza Mall. Together with Cravings Group, they want us, coffee lovers, to taste the perfect partnership of coffee and desserts!

Serving more than just coffee goodness - This exciting collaboration has been set in motion throughout all Cravings Group restaurant chains – Cravings, Epicurious, Lucia Ristorante, Lombardi’s, C2 Classic Cuisine, B&P, The Blackboard by Chef Michel and The Coffee Beanery (TCB) outlets nationwide beginning October 28.

Under the collaboration, Phillip Di Bella will not only bring its sought-after gourmet coffee products, but also its "crop to cup" philosophy in the Philippines. Di Bella’s owner, Phillip Di Bella – dubbed as Australia’s "Coffee King" – is a well-known entrepreneur and philanthropist who has raised the standards followed by coffee farmers and Australia’s coffee industry in general.  His extensive experience, combined with community-building vision, makes him one of the most successful and deeply admired influential personalities in today’s international coffee making industry. 

36 cafes and restaurants with a wholesale supply project to begin in the near future, bringing in the Philippines their ‘crop to cup’ philosophy via a partnership with The Coffee Beanery of the Cravings Group.  “The Cravings Group is proud to partner with Di Bella.  Not only do we raise the bar of café concept by presenting customers with new world-class coffee choices; we are also more than happy to create positive impacts to Filipino coffee farmers,” said Marinela G. Trinidad, CEO of The Cravings Group. 

“With this partnership, the Philippine coffee industry also stands to gain so much. Di Bella is very intent in supporting The Cravings Group educate and train local farmers with ethical, sustainable coffee bean-growing practices. By learning and adapting such renowned leadership, excellence and expertise, Filipino coffee farmers will have the opportunity to learn and eventually harvest the best-quality, locally-grown beans which in turn give Filipinos the best cup experience,” Trinidad noted. 

As for the "cup" part, Maui Mauricio, Brand Manager for The Coffee Beanery (TCB), said it is not only highlighting the elevated customer experience as Di Bella will also impart its training philosophy to make TCB baristas “world-class.”

As the pioneer of brewing coffee and among the first cafés to introduce latte art in the Philippines, The Coffee Beanery’s more than a decade of leadership and craft perfection in the premium coffee segment is fortified anew with TCG’s landmark partnership with Di Bella --- elevating its category as a café destination for top-class, international coffee blends.

“A big part of making consistently excellent coffee is also an excellent and knowledgeable barista,” she enthused.  “With Di Bella standard of training of our baristas, our customers are assured that each cup is flavorful, lovingly made, and perfect to the last sip.”

Be among the first to enjoy premium cups of Di Bella Coffee at all The Coffee Beanery and Cravings outlets including Epicurious, Wicked, Lombardi’s and The Blackboard.

Beverage of the Week | Iced Cafe D'Vita Matcha Green Tea Latte

Cafe D'Vita Matcha Green Tea

Thanks to my cousin Anney who let me sign-up as her membership extension, I have been shopping at S & R since then and it was my second time in the membership shopping department store when I found this Cafe D'Vita Matcha Green Tea on sale for about 600+ pesos ( 1, 361 g or 3 lbs)

I was a bit saddened when I found out that Cafe D'Vita's Matcha Green Tea was not pure ground Japanese green tea powder but with mixture of creamer and sweetener. My plan to eliminate sugar and dairy in my diet after the holidays was compromised but I just can't simply give up my "Matchamania", so I bought it.

Let’s check the label.  Ingredients includes sugar, coconut oil, corn syrup solids, natural and artificial flavors Matcha green tea, and many more. Good thing that the creamer is non-dairy plus it’s gluten free, zero trans-fat and no hydrogenated oils!

Matcha Green Tea Cafe D'Vita

Regardless of its high calorie and carbohydrates contents, Matcha Green Tea is touted as superior antioxidant, detoxifier and energy booster.It's a healthy beverage which help the body fight off infection and disease. It is also reputed to reduce stress 100% natural skin care super food, and help weight-loss.

Whether hot or cold, iced, smoothie or latte, an emerald green mug of matcha tea can give your health a real boost and its under 5 minutes to prepare.

Cafe D'Vita Matcha Green Tea

Ratio is 1 cup of water = 8 oz Cafe D'Vita Matcha Green Tea. For a larger serving like mine, I put 16 oz. or 2 scoops of Cafe D'Vita Matcha Green Tea, 1 cup tube ice, and 1 cup filtered water. Of course you can add more or less to suit your taste.

I don't have a blender to make a smoothie so I blend it manually until smooth garnish with mint leaves and sprinkled more Matcha onto the beverage (because I love to eat it raw!)

Matcha Green Tea Cafe D'Vita Matcha Green Tea


... they were in El Nido sometime in February but was held-up one day late of their timetable when all island tours were cancelled because of tropical storm Kajiki (Typhoon Basyang) hitting the municipality in the middle of the summer season. With nothing to do on their first day, they decided to trek to Nagkalit-kalit Falls and visited an alternative inland beach resort -the beautiful Las Cabanas Beach Resort located just about 3 km south of El Nido town.

Not the memorable summer experience they’ve planned to be, but they had real fun. Dinner was all good at Artcafe. It was raining hard outside the café and there was no sign of weather getting better on the next day. They decided to just enjoy the night and decided to go with the flow the following day, downed a bottle of Australian red wine, enjoyed the food, and sang along with the local live band playing "It’s My Life". Deep-inside, keeping their fingers crossed that the next day's weather would be fair to do the ultimate El Nido adventure.

Sweet! The following day was picture perfect! But Cadlao (which means “laugh” in Coyunon dialect) Island, capped with clouds seemed shy to smile at them. The shore was full of drifted seaweeds but the sun was shinning brightly.

"What a beautiful day!" says his friend, Trixie as Rome bask on a rattan sun lounger looking out over the brilliant turquoise waters of the Bacuit Bay with a glass of iced-cold coke by his side, waiting for their tour guide to arrive. "Ahhh, it was indeed a paradise", he said, smiling.

Today is an island-hopping-kind-of-day or shall I say lagoon hopping.  The duo availed TOUR A, the most famous and the most availed tour package in El Nido A.K.A. "The Lagoon Tour" as it comprised of expedition to 2 lagoons of Miniloc Island - Small Lagoon and Big Lagoon. Secret Lagoon, Shimizu Island, and 7 Commandos Beach are also part of the whole day tour. Costing them Php 1200 each, it includes boat transportation, lunch, life jacket and snorkeling equipments, and services of a tour guide.

First Stop: Small Lagoon

They swam through the entrance hole and found themselves floating in a lagoon surrounded by orchid-lined limestone walls that just up straight from the water. 

Over the years, small lagoon has become a grave of dead coral reefs. Hiding from its crystal clear and tranquil turquoise-green waters are white and sharp dead corals. Sad to say, despite of government and non-government’s efforts to protect it, the lagoon is slowly being destroyed.

“This is not what it looks like 10 years ago”, Rome explained to Trixie. “Small lagoon’s entrance was once a coral reef paradise. It has plenty of live, big, and colorful corals the last time I went here”.

WARNING: Better hurry up if you want to see the best of El Nido. If ignorance, greed, and destruction of the people around it won't be seriously addressed, El Nido's days are numbered.

Next stop: EL NIDO ISLAND HOPPING  | TOUR A - Simizu Island  


Additional part of Tour A package of our El Nido island hopping were light water activities such as fish-feeding and snorkeling. These fun activities happened right after our challenging exit through El Nido's famous Big Lagoon. While waiting for the Secret Lagoon, our supposedly next destination, to be free from overwhelming crowd, the captain of the boat headed to a reef nearby.

Location and time for such activities depends on your boat captain and crew, usually varies with tide and the time-table of entering the lagoons. There are also many factors to consider like the course of wind, and boat condition. Of course, strong current means swimming is definitely not advisable. Unless you rented an inclusive boat, you may opt to negotiate to your tour operator to drop-by at the nearest uninhabited beach that you fancy and may spend your extra time swimming. The world's most beautiful beaches are in El Nido and you have a lot to choose from. That's what we did when I travelled back early this year joining my cousin's company outing but that's a different story.

Oftentimes, tour operators exclude these cool activities particularly when you are running out of time to go back in mainland. Strong winds and currents normally occur during afternoon, I was told by one of the boatmen and they have to hurry to go back to the port strictly following Philippine Navy's protocol.

Trixie and I joined the group composed of different nationalities - there are Dutch, Portuguese, Koreans and locals. Its the most quiet group I've joined-in among my travels or maybe I'm not aware and was just distracted by the natural beauty that sorrounds me.

Speaking in fluent English, our travel guide told us stories, stated facts and figures about El Nido, and cracked some jokes which I'm sure he already told millionth times but delivered each punchline like its new. Haha. The jokes are spoil-free with me so I'm not telling any.

Anyway, he was able to build authority along the way and expertly explained the activity's do's and dont's eventually.  I admired how he was able to control such a large group of different people, probably around thirty. Unlike any other group I joined in from my previous travels, this group listened attentively and abided by the rules strictly, he deserved an applause in handling such a wide range of people. A clear win for me should there been an Oscars for tour guides.

It was in the middle of the day and was really hot when our boat stopped at the reef in the waters of Miniloc Island not far from Big Lagoon's entrance surrounded by turquoise water.  No beach chairs, crowd, sunshades nor souvenir vendors’s a jewel.  

Jaw-dropping Miniloc Island renowned for its beauty worldwide served as our magnificent backdrop while snorkeling, floating, and fish-feeding for almost an hour. It was a marvelous site of unspoilt beauty to behold for a moment. The world's best island and my beloved country's last frontier, have majestic cliffs with lush greenery sit above the turquoise water. 

I swam off Miniloc waters and found school of fish lurking around me. Being away from the sea for quite a long time made me a little bit scared starring at sea creature's eyes so I hurriedly float onto the surface only to find out that Trixie, laughing tremendously on the boat, throwing bread crumbs near me, ugh!

I went back into the sea and seen school of fish and two harmless small sharks travelling in tandem, destruct the fish in their paths as they swam among the stunning natural habitat of the reefs. It was such  a beautiful experience again and again seeing the underwater world and just admired the life and colorful coral gardens of El Nido.

Photos are all mine and were meant to be posted to my defunct travel blog hence the watermark.

Mama Lou's Italian Kitchen, Vertis North Ayala Mall, Quezon City

  • Mama Lou's is located at Ground Floor, Ayala Malls Vertis Triangle Exchange, North, North Ave, Quezon City, Metro Manila.
  • Mama Lou's Italian Kitchen is a casual dining restaurant that serves authentic Italian dishes.
  • Highly Recommended!!! Risotto Tartufo Funghi (Wild Mushroom Risotto and Truffle Cream)

That's Amore! A signature hearty Risotto dish - Risotto Tartufo Funghi (Wild Mushroom Risotto and Truffle Cream) from the Mama Lou's Italian Kitchen.

When Risotto is the name of the dish I been craving for, my taste buds are speaking of Mama Lou's. The restaurant's signature dish - Risotto Tartufo Funghi has became my benchmark against any other Risottos from other restaurants since I tried it couple of years ago at their Nuvali branch. I can't help but compare my best risotto experience at Mama Lou's.

Words are not enough to describe my favorite Italian dish. The perfect combination of cream and the amazing aroma of truffles are magic in my palate. "You don't need to be in northern Italy to eat the best Risotto in the world. Just find a nearest Mama Lou's Italian Kitchen branch and try their Risotto Tartufo Funghi (Mushroom Risotto with Truffles)", that's what I told my friend Gladys the first time I invited her to dine with me after our errand at the nearest PCSO office last month.

As I've expected, she was blown away with the experience and developed Risotto cravings too! She's now officially, my Risotto buddy! haha. We scheduled another session last Friday after our office hours. From Eastwood City where we both work in, we travelled straight to Vertis North Ayala Mall in Quezon City near Trinoma, only to find out there's no table available, ugh! Out of excitement, we forgot to book a table or use our eatigo app to check if there's discount available.

We were approached by an attendant and politely ask to put our name on the waiting list. It was a payday-Friday night and people were crowded at the entrance of every restaurant in the area.  We're 6th on the list and decided to roam around the new Ayala mall while waiting. I spotted a new, interesting Japanese restaurant that I hoped to try and share to y'all next time around :-)

Immediately after we've returned, approximately 10-15 minutes of discovering the mall, we were ushered to a table in the middle of the still crowded restaurant, handed a menu and a basket of soft bread with thick balsamic vinegar and good olive oil dip while choosing what to take aside of course to our dear Risotto. Two glasses of cold water were also served immediately after we sat down which I take as a sign of good service in a restaurant.

There's a lot on offer from wide arrays of Pizza and Pasta, to Antipasti and desserts, to meat and seafood. But we both declined to load more carbo and meat at first but eventually gave-in as time goes by. We also ordered a bottle of Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon and Italian platter of assorted cold cuts and cheese to pair with. Well, we've been trying to appreciate wine for a while and kinda like the Titas-of-Manila or Ninangs-of-Manila vibe (whatever it means) of hanging out. Kidding aside, we are getting old! ... and tired of loud places and bars with live bands or techno music. Mama Lou's has a soft and relax atmosphere just like what we figured with the exception of a group of crazy, noisy, drunk yuppies nearby. In between sipping wine, we ordered truffle pasta which was similarly delish like risotto. Hey, please don't judge, 'twas a death-by-truffles kind of night :-0

Bottle of wine was down to last drop after almost two hours of catching-up. It was a long time of talking, laughing, and unlimited gossiping. We were the last customer to leave the restaurant tipsy and ultimately happy. Cravings, satisfied! The whole experience of our second time at Mama Lou's was superb! Can't wait until the next round of Risotto sesh. See you soon, Mama!