Kumain Ka Na?: The Philippine Embassy in Rome Celebrates April as Filipino Food Month

"Kumain ka na?" This endearing inquiry, commonly expressed by Filipinos as a sincere gesture of hospitality to guests, translates to "Have you eaten?" This question, steeped in cultural warmth and care, encapsulated the essence of the Philippine embassy's culinary affair, marking the joyful commemoration of Filipino Food Month.

Food has an extraordinary power to bring people together, transcending cultural boundaries and fostering connections rooted in shared experiences. The recent celebration of Filipino Food Month at the Philippines embassy in Rome was a testament to this unifying spirit, as individuals from diverse backgrounds gathered to honor the rich culinary heritage of the Philippines.

Led by Philippine Ambassador Nathaniel Imperial, also Permanent Representative to UN agencies in Rome, and graced by the presence of FAO Director General General Qu Dongyu and Philippine Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Asis Perez, the event was a vibrant showcase of Filipino cuisine and culture. Dr. Joy Javelosa, the Embassy's Agricultural Attache and Deputy Permanent Representative to Food and Agriculture UN agencies in Rome, orchestrated the ceremony, setting the stage for an evening filled with gastronomic delights and heartfelt stories.

We Cook Filipino by Jacqueline Chio - Lauri

Central to the festivities were the acclaimed new book by Jacqueline Chio-Lauri, an award-winning author and editor. "We Cook Filipino", the sequel of "The New Filipino Kitchen" which was published in 2018 in the US, offered a tantalizing glimpse into the diverse world of Filipino cooking, featuring heart-healthy recipes and inspiring narratives contributed by 36 Filipino food personalities and chefs from around the globe. Chio-Lauri's debut picture book, "Mama King: How Ma Mon Luk Found Love, Riches, and the Perfect Bowl of Soup," added a touch of nostalgia to the proceedings, recounting the fascinating origins of the beloved Filipino dish, mami. She also revealed details about her upcoming picture book slated for tentative publication in 2026, igniting excitement among the audience. The book will delve into the fascinating story of banana ketchup, promising to captivate readers with its rich narrative and cultural significance.

Chio-Lauri's multifaceted culinary expertise, honed through her tenure as a restaurateur and her experience in food and beverage management at prestigious establishments like Shangri-la Hotel and Sheraton Hotel, underscored her passion for sharing the flavors of her homeland with the world. Beyond cookbooks, her contributions extend to academia, with research addressing health disparities among Filipino Americans, reflecting her commitment to promoting health equity and community-based research initiatives.

As attendees savored each bite and shared anecdotes over shared dishes by the participating restaurants and gelaterie, bonds were forged, and cultural exchange flourished. Beyond mere sustenance, food served as a catalyst for dialogue, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of Filipino culture and heritage. Through events like Filipino Food Month, the culinary treasures of the Philippines continue to serve as bridges that unite people from all walks of life, nourishing both body and soul with the universal language of food.

From Home to Rome: Filipino Cuisine in the Eaternal City

The evening also marked the unveiling of the the project of Consul Bem Ochoa, the digital Filipino Food and Restaurant Guide in Italy, From Home to Rome: Filipino Cuisine in the Eaternal City, showcasing Filipino restaurants in Rome, a collaborative effort that epitomized the spirit of unity and anticipation among the participating establishments. From traditional eateries to innovative gelato shops, each venue shared the story of its inception and highlighted signature dishes that delighted guests and showcased the vibrant tapestry of Filipino cuisine. 

Ala Eh
A spacious casual dining restaurant offering traditional Filipino dishes with highlights on local dishes from Batangas, a city in southern Luzon known for its beautiful beaches, breathtaking dive sites, rugged mountains and diverse cuisine. The place is also used as a venue for parties and a live band performances on weekends. They are best known for their: lomi, a noodle soup made with fresh egg noodles, meat, and vegetables in a flavorful broth; and lumpiang shanghai (meat spring rolls).
Address: Via Soriso 10, 00167 Rome
Tel: +39 3801371140
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alaeh.restobar/

Manila Restaurant
Just a 5-minute walk from Termini station, this family-owned restaurant serves authentic Filipino cuisine with original recipes from various regions in the Philippines. The restaurant was once featured in morning show on Philippine TV and was mentioned in a food blog by Anthony Bourdain. What sets them apart from other restaurants is their concept of "paluto" which is a possibility to request traditional Filipino dishes to be cooked ahead of time, making the experience more personalized. It is also possible to get an advance reservation of "boodle fight", a way of serving food on top of a table lined with banana leaves wherein rice is placed in the middle while various viands are on the side. Chef Randy Velasco, who hails from the Ilocos province in the Philippines specializes in dishes from his region. Best known for lechon kawali, halo-halo and ube, mango and avocado ice cream.
Address: Via Calatafimi 28-36, Rome
Tel: +39 064826008

Neighborhood Filipino Restaurant
The restaurant's concept is casual and family style dining offering home-cooked style Filipino food with authentic Kapampangan dishes in their menu, the owners both hailing from Pampanga, known as the culinary capital of the Philippines. Food that is meant to be shared and this is how the Neighborhood Restaurant describes the way they prepare and serve their food, with bigger portions. It has seen a big success in its first restaurant at Via Germanico 170 that it opened a second one just a few meters from the Philippine Embassy at Via Aurelia. Best known for sisig, tocino and kare-kare.
Address: Via Germanico 170, Rome | Via Aurelia, 313, Rome
Tel: +39 06 86670274 | +39 3467428603
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NeighborhoodRestaurantRome

Sarap SNC
What started in 2012 as a sandwich and salad bar that sells halo-halo has now evolved into a modern restaurant offering a fast dining experience that is an upgrade from the Filipino tuto-turo or carinderia. Today, Sarap SNC is now one of the go-to restaurants for those who crave home-cooked Filipino meals (lutong bahay), where the recipes were passed down by grandmothers and mothers in the generations of Filipinos. Their claim-to-fame is their ability to bring original Filipino taste from home to Rome. The restaurant also prides itself for its adherence to strict food preparation controls and the use of quality ingredients. Their must-trys include kalderetang baka, lechon kawali and dinuguan. For the adventurous eater, dinuguan is a uniquely Filipino savory stew simmered in a rich, flavorful gravy of pig blood, vinegar, garlic, chili, and other spices.
Address: Viale Giulio Cesare 113/B, Rome
Tel: +39 06 89137744
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Sarapfood

Tali N Tiago
Tali N Tiago is a family-run restaurant serving heart-warming Filipino meals and was born out of the family matriarch's dream to build a restaurant that offers a casual dining experience in a relaxed atmosphere. They offer a variety of Filipino-Kapampangan dishes as all the proprietors hail from the province of Pampanga. Their must-trys include crispy pata (deep fried pig trotters and knuckles served with soy vinaigrette), okoy (vegetable and shrimp fritters), sizzling sisig (chopped pork jowl), and lumpiang sariwa (home-made crepes filled with vegetables drizzled with savory peanut sauce) and pancit palabok (rice noodle dish with a rich pork and shrimp sauce garnished with smoked fish, eggs, and crumbled chicharon).
Address: Via Caio Mario 16A, Rome
Tel: +39 3515063147
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TaliNTiago

Once working alongside the owner and gelato maker of the historic gelateria Gel'Istria, Barry Flores, who has always been captivated by the art of ice cream making at a very young age, decided to buy the gelateria from his ex-employer when he decided to sell it. For years, he had been working alongside gelato masters in Rome and Sicily in making gelato so it was time to take the reins. Inspired by their childhood memories, he and his wife decided to infuse their gelato offerings with Filipino flavors such as cheese and ube (purple yam), which you can now enjoy in the capital. They also serve freshly made gelato crafted from gluten-free raw materials. Their commitment to quality extends to ensuring the utmost freshness of their gelato, which is exclusively flavored with all-natural ingredients. Aside from Italian flavors, Filipino flavors ube and cheese are must-try flavors, along with halo-halo.
Address: Piazza Istria 14, Rome
Tel: +39 3881906472
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100046954646547

Lab Gelato
Close to the Vatican, Lab Gelato, is not only a gelateria but is also a coffee shop and cocktail bar owned and operated by a young Filipino couple. They have a vast array of 26 gelato flavors, one of which is the Filipino purple ube flavor. They also serve the Filipino ice dessert halo-halo. Mocktails such as frozen seasonal fruits like strawberries and mangoes are refreshingly good along with classic cocktails.
Address: Via Vespasiano 83, Rome
Tel: +39 324 8681795
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100091096043370