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Il Piccino Trattoria by Chef Natalia Moran, formerly known as La Casa Alfonso, is a romantic, by-reservation-only restaurant. She opens her ancestral home to family, friends, and foodies to share her love for Italian food. 🙂

She is known in Mercato Centrale as the Ravioli Queen, selling freshly made ravioli in the market.

We love quaint, home-based restaurants like this where the food is cooked with love, and people are welcomed as personal guests of the chef.

We celebrated the eve of Valentine’s in Il Piccino Trattoria with a special set menu prepared especially for this love month. Here’s our experience…

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The setting is the ancestral house of the Limkako-Mejia family, circa 1925, originally owned by Spaniard Primitivo Jason.

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It is filled with a mix of antique fixtures with modern art (from Carlito’s and other artists), amidst wide capiz shell windows and wooden plank floors.

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It’s more of a house than a restaurant for now since it’s where their family continues to live.

The ground floor is where the personal rooms are found, and the Trattoria is located in the living room and the outside patio.

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A minimum of 2 guests up to a maximum of 12 persons can be accommodated.

We ate in the patio area, which was a bit cramped and the mosquitoes there were a bit annoying. I imagine it would be easy to overhear the conversations at the next table, which might take away the intimate feel of the place.

The February menu is a 4-course meal with course options and awesome dessert for P950 +12% VAT. (Note: Pricing should be VAT-inclusive and they can add service charge instead.)

The set menu changes every month. Drinks are charged separately (Water-P30, Soda-P50, White White Wine- P150, Red Wine – P180). You can bring your own wine if you prefer. 

We ordered different options per course so that we could try them all.

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Bread Starter: Homemade focaccia bread, grissini, garlic confit, balsamico, oilo d’ oliva, freshly grated parmigiano.

The starter is a serving of bread with garlic and cheese, paired with really good balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Our bread and garlic were served a little cold already (maybe because we arrived a bit late). The bread sticks could be improved because they tasted like the ones you can buy from the supermarket.

After this starter, we went straight to the next dish since there’s no salad or soup option in the menu.

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Course #1: Risotto ai funghi shiitake con olio di tartufo.

The risotto was nicely al dente. I liked how it had the right creaminess and bite to it.

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Course #1: ★ Blue cheese and pear ravioli with asparagus sauce.

One of the Chef’s specialties is the ravioli, and it did not disappoint. The soft and freshly made ravioli with creamy blue cheese was tempered by the taste of the asparagus sauce.

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Course #2: ★ Pan-seared mahi mahi with orange salad, pesto arugula and lemon vinaigrette.

For the seafood course, we decided to just order the same mahi mahi dish. We loved the balance of flavors from the slightly salty and fork-tender mahi mahi, the citrus contribution of the orange, and herb-y taste from the pesto and alfalfa sprouts.

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Palate Cleanser: Homemade Philippine calamansi granita

At this point, we found the first part of the menu a bit filling already, but these icy calamansi bits helped prepare our palate for the last course and dessert.

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Course #3: ★ Lamb Chops (+P300) served with rustic mashed potatoes, grilled vegetables, dijon cream sauce, and peppercorn sauce.

Although we were not asked how we wanted our meat cooked, it came out medium well, which is what we like. 🙂

Go for the lamb–it’s wonderfully spiced, not dry, and you’ll eat it until only the bones are left. The mashed potato complements it quite well.

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Course #3: ★ Tenderloin Steak (+P300) served with rustic mashed potatoes, grilled vegetables, dijon cream sauce, and peppercorn sauce.

The tenderloin steak was cooked well outside with still a bit of pinkish meat inside. The serving portion’s good for sharing, too.

Try the steak and the lamb. The additional P300 (for each dish) is worth it. 🙂

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Course #4 ★ Dessert: Spiced Belgian hot cioccolata sorpresa con struffoli Napolitano.

One of the things I liked about the meal was the dessert. This really good chocolate drink by RISA Chocolatier was heavenly. 🙂 The chocolate is mixed with cheese, which really makes it a yummy combination.

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This bunch of mini-dough balls on the side was a letdown, though. They were too hard. We even tried dunking them in the chocolate, but to no avail. Hopefully, this combination can be improved.

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Course #4 ★ Dessert: Hand-crafted artisanal pralines by RISA Chocolatier.

The best part of the meal? Ending it with exquisite chocolate pralines. 🙂 Save the BEST for last!

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Congrats to Chef Natalia Moran for this promising endeavor! 🙂

Your dining room area is really quaint and beautiful. It could be easily converted into a Chef’s table that has a great view of the kitchen.


If you are tired of commercialized restos and are looking for a private romantic escape in the metro, check out this Il Piccino secret in San Juan. 🙂

by Chef Natalia Moran
162 Alfonso XIII Street, San Juan City, 1500
Telephone: +632 964-8034
Mobile: +63 917 829-1900
FacebookGruppo Il Piccino


Live an Awesome Life,

Contact me: a iphone

Full Disclosure: We paid for our meals. Chef Natalia Moran is a former vendor partner in Mercato Centrale, but we are not connected with the restaurant and any organization promoting it.

P.S. From Ortigas-Greenhills, turn left into Santolan Road then right on M. Paterno Street (after right after Pasadena St.). Go straight and make a sharp U-turn-like left (where the police precinct and Fiesta Greetings Factory Outlet are located) along Alfonso St. You should see #162 (white gate) on your right. Park along the street in front of the house.

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 P.P.S. Trivia: Il Piccino means the “Little One”, named after the chef’s one-year-old son. 🙂

5 thoughts on “IL PICCINO TRATTORIA Valentine :)

  1. We had our Valentine’s Day date here and we really enjoyed everything 🙂 So far, Natalia does everything aside from being the chef. I hope she gets to expand soon 🙂

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