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Boracay’s popular pizza place turns 21

MANILA, Philippines — Boracay's favorite go-to place for pizza and other authentic Italian fare is now 21. Established in 2003 by Juan Elizalde and Paolo Occhionero, Aria Cucina Italiana has served visitors on the island who are out to have a seriously good meal. From their beachfront accommodations, they walk down to D’Mall in Station 2, where the action is, and “discover” Aria.

Imagine sinking your teeth into the cheesy goodness of a crispy yet moist prosciutto pizza slice that is baked fresh inside a wood-fired brick oven, prepared by an Italian Chef, no less.

As you take the bite, strings of melting cheese pull away, and you get to savor the flavors of Italy bursting on your palate. You look at the view of sparkling blue seas from a comfortable second-floor dining balcony and feel the fine, powdery sand between your toes as you head out after a satisfying meal. No need to imagine, though, because this is a reality at Aria.

Aria's seaview second floor dining area.

The 21-year-old Italian restaurant has withstood the test of time with its authentic cuisine, as prepared by a dedicated kitchen team under the leadership of Italian Executive Chef Salvatore Vincentis.

Vincentis’ creations continue to wow people from all over the world. People appreciate how high his standards are in the kitchen, especially when it comes to the freshness and quality of ingredients, as some are even flown in straight from Italy so as not to compromise the authentic Italian taste. Aria’s curated menu is the most comprehensive one on the island, with dishes catering to various tastes and preferences.

Other than their high-quality ingredients, it is the wood-fired brick oven that makes Aria’s pizzas delicious. It packs in the flavor, thanks to the intense heat it generates that cooks the pizza quickly, resulting in a crisp crust while locking in moisture and flavor. The wood imparts a distinctive smoky flavor to the pizza you cannot achieve with other cooking methods. It also tends to keep authenticity alive as they have been used for centuries in Italy and other parts of the world for baking bread and cooking pizza. The tradition and craftsmanship associated with these ovens add an element of authenticity to the pizza-making process, which Aria guests love.

Their extensive selection of 26 pizza varieties, as inspired by various regions in Italy (ask for the secret menu if you want half-and-half options, and for big groups, you can make it La Famiglia), never fails to impress diners.

More than just pizza, Aria also offers Fritto di Calamari con Maionese Elle Erbe and Prosciutto e Mango, both considered as some of the best appetizers on the island. As for salads, it is the Cocomero Salad that people quite regularly enjoy. For pasta lovers, there are the special black fettuccine pasta dishes with the Fettuccine Nere and Al Nero. The Chicken Parmigiana, baked to perfection in the brick oven, is also a crowd favorite.

Enjoy platefuls of Italian dishes at Boracay's Aria.

New items to try on the menu include Gnocchi alla Sorrentina, a.k.a. potato dumplings that are an underrated delight. For thirst-quenchers, Aria offers Italian cocktails with an extensive list of wines that are sure to complement the mouth-watering dishes.

To end a meal on a sweet note, there’s the Aria Tris di Dolci or the perfectly creamy Aria Gelato with a wide selection of 18 flavors, made fresh daily with imported ingredients. With all gelato flavors crafted daily, it is undeniably the finest ice cream dessert experience in Boracay.

At 21, Aria Cucina Italiana continues to thrive as a top-of-mind Italian beachfront restaurant, despite all the challenges it had to face during Boracay’s closures for the island rehabilitation in 2018, followed by the pandemic in 2020.

Choosing to stay open to keep staff employed, they continued operations and adapted a digital system for online orders and delivery. The quick transition has been beneficial, as their online orders are still up and running.

Aria Cucina Italiana is located in D’Mall, Station 2, Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan.

Aria's dedicated team.

RELATED: 1st full-service coffee shop in Boracay celebrates 2 decades

Credit belongs to : www.philstar.com

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