194 Fields Avenue, Balibago
Angeles City, Philippines
Tel: (045) 892-3009
The Azzuro restaurant is conveniently located right in the heart of Fields Avenue directly above Lancelot bar and in my opinion is one of the very best restaurants in Angeles. The Azzuro specializes in authentic provincial style Italian cuisine and is very reasonably priced with a large range of truly mouthwatering dishes perfect for Italian cuisine aficionados right through to the average hungry bar hopper. Azzuro is often compared to C-Italia but as was pointed out to me by the owner C-Italia is the high profile Italian cuisine restaurant that specializes in Mediterranean style Italian cooking whereas Azzuro is more provincial style Italian cooking. There is also a difference in the clientele, C-Italia caters towards the so called upper end market with a special emphasis on the wealthy Filipinos whereas Azuro is for the more general market that likes to include some nice food along with their bar hoping activities.
The Azzuro restaurant is deceptively large and can seat up to 62 patrons at any one time. The restaurant is divided into two separate sections the front part which is an open air area overlooking Fields Avenue and features10 tables which can seat four people each. The tables are light and can be moved together easily if a larger number of people want to sit together. The most popular tables by no coincidence are those overlooking Fields Avenue. The front section has overhead fans and subdued lighting and the ambiance is almost one of a little Italian country restaurant hidden away above the busy street of Fields Avenue. Even though it is an open air restaurant this section is spotlessly clean and the plastic chairs are large and comfortable designed to facilitate a relaxing and comfortable eating experience.
The second section is actually inside the restaurant and is delightfully air-conditioned and enclosed by glass. This area is kept delightfully cool with very efficient air conditioning and there are always delightful aromas which emanate from the kitchen out back. Each table seats four people comfortably but once again the tables are lightweight and easily moved should a larger party wish to dine as a group. The chairs are large plush and comfortable, the floor is cool earthen ware tiles and there are overhead fans which circulate the air evenly throughout the restaurant.
The inside restaurant is carefully thought out so as to fit as many people as possible and yet it allows the waitresses to easily service the tables. Again this section portrays a classic ambience of the rural yet classy Italian restaurant. This image is partly created by the décor and the wet bar area.
The Azzuro is owned by a German National who for 30 plus years has worked all over the world as an international chef, with the last five years being the owner and head chef of Azuro restaurant. As a result although it specializes in Italian food the place has a distinctly German feel about it from the range of German beers right through regular customers having their own German beer mugs behind the bar and even some German dishes are available upon request. There are some very interesting decorations here which combine to create the unique ambiance of this restaurant
No Italian restaurant would be complete without the vino and the Azzuro boasts a large range of wines from countries as diverse as Italy, France, Australia, Argentina and Chile. Azzuro also has a number of classic Liqueurs designed to complete the Italian eating experience.
Franz is a believer in the old school of thought which states that the quality of any dish is decided right at the start by the ingredients used. To this end wherever possible Franz will use his own home grown herbs and makes sure that he purchases only the freshest and highest quality produce when bulk ordering for the restaurant. When I was interviewing him about his restaurant he emphasized that he had the largest range of imported steaks in Angeles. Franz told me that originally his customer base did not require top of the range fresh produce but this has now changed and his regular clientele not only expect the fresh quality ingredients but keep on returning precisely because they know the ingredients used are of the highest quality and taste delicious.
The Azzuro has been operating under the current ownership for over 5 years and during that time it has built up a dedicated clientele of regulars who appreciate the good food at reasonable prices and the friendly laid back atmosphere that pervades throughout the restaurant. This restaurant is not marketed extensively and relies mainly on word of mouth as such it is in many ways a little hideaway catering for a large and dedicated group of devoted regulars along with the occasional tourist who stumbles up the stairs in search of a delicious Italian meal.
Azzuro specializes in parties and special occasions such as weddings or conference lunches and can devise a special menu for you or provide a set menu for an even cheaper price. The opening hours are 3PM to 11PM the owner is flexible regarding the operating hours. For example he will gladly open earlier or stay open later for large groups of people such as special parties or conferences. Franz is very approachable and friendly. He assured me that he would be only too pleased to cater for Asian Escapades customers should any decide to use his restaurant as a venue for a special occasion. Best of all Azzuro will give a ten percent Asian Escapades discount to each individual member upon presentation of the AE membership card. Please note this is not a 10% discount of the total bill but a ten percent discount off each AE individual members bill as long as he has his AE membership card with him at the time.
When we visited Azzuro we are a group of 5 and were composed of 4 hungry males and a diminutive Filipina whose appetite belies her small frame. We started off with the mixed platter plate which Fresh white bread salami sun dried tomatoes, an assortment of dried vegetables, smoked ham, and fresh Australian feta cheese all topped with the home grown grated basil.
Also included in the appetizers were a series of fresh prawns with tartar sauce, some tasty Bruschetta
And a dish named Capprese which is Tomato slices with mozzarella di buffalo, olive oil and balsamic vinegar
For the main dishes we had an assortment of meals that included tasty lamb chops topped with tomato sauce gravy and served together with fresh vegetables and mashed potato.
A perfectly cooked Australian Rib-eye steak
Cheese Baked Penne. Oven baked Italian pasta in a special sauce
For the Filipino taste buds there is also a large range of Filipino dishes including the pork barbecue in a spicy sauce. This is served as two pork loin skewers with rice and pickled vegetables all topped with a healthy amount of Basil.
Downstairs they have a sausage stand which is also part of this excellent restaurant. Franz originally started this, what we would call a glorified hot dog stand, in competition to the Shawarma place. Many of his customers in the restaurant would say they often look for a quick snack when bar hoping and they also expressed their disgruntlement at the lack of alternatives to the Shawarma rolls. Responding to market demand Franz grabbed the opportunity to put a sausage stand outside Lancelot bar and this has now become one of the most popular places on Fields.
They have a number of different sausages all served on fresh German bread buns with a choice of relishes and sauces. These are more expensive than the schwarmas but they are also a lot larger and use imported ingredients.
The Azzuro restaurant pleasantly surprised me. This really is a nice dining experience, the ambiance is laid back and relaxing and the food is delicious and very reasonably priced. The waitresses are attentive and efficient and best of all with the Asian Escapades discount this restaurant becomes very inexpensive and real value for money. If you are a lover of Italian cuisine or feel like a nice meal before visiting the clubs or a relaxing intimate dinner with that special someone or just a quick snack while you watch the goings on of Fields Avenue, then this restaurant is the perfect venue for you.