I was scheduled to be at a sporting event in Caliraya Recreation Center, Bgy. Lumban, Laguna over a recent weekend, and decided to self-declare a 'sandwich' holiday for myself by taking a leisurely Monday off (and availing of the May 1st, Tuesday holiday).
On a whim, i Googled some possible restaurants in the Rizal / Laguna to check out, and came across this post from the Traveling-Up blog. Bingo! This was it! Our destination resto on the way back to Manila.
From Manila East Road, we followed the directions by Waze. Landmark was this intersection with a Jollibee store, and 2 gas stations across each other. We duly turned right; and to my consternation, the distance to Lutong Pugon was another 12 KM yet! Somehow, i had gotten it in my mind that our destination was just a few hundred meters away. Haha.
Since the road was smooth and clear, it took us around 15 minutes (passing by the well-known Bakasyunan resort along the way) to finally see the Lutong Pugon wooden signage, and entered their parking lot.
We were immediately charmed by the place, which is owned by artist Jun Tiongco. There is a small gallery where his and other artists' works are exhibited; as well as painting scattered in various parts of his resto.
Check out the main dining area below:
Since our group of five was famished from the weekend's exertions, we immediately got down to ordering at the counter. The food items are displayed on chalkboards; and apparently, the specialty here are the gourmet pizzas, baked in their 'pugon' (i.e. kiln or oven).
It was a bit hard to decide, as all the pizzas seemed quite appetizing. Eventually we went for the Chorizo Iberico (chorizo, mozarella, black olives) and Gambaretto (prawns, olives, pesto, mozarella, basil) - the latter being recommended by the staff as their best-seller.
We also ordered the Chilli Prawns and Shrimp Chorizo pastas.
After a long-ish wait, the food starting arriving. Yeyy! Bon appetito! The Chilli Prawn pasta lived up to our expectations. Noodles were al dente, and while some felt it was a tad too spicy (chili nga diba? :D :D) and a bit oily (some merit in this one), it was definitely flavorful.
Then came the pizzas.
The Gambaretto pizza (below) was simply superb. Lutong Pugon didn't scrim on the ingredients and the mozarella melted just so, and blended with the other ingredients very well. Sarap!!
The Chorizo Iberico pizza was no slouch either. Very tasty.
Last came the Shrimp Chorizo pasta, which was also perfectly cooked; and again, did not scrimp on the chorizo. Opinion on our table was divided on which of the pastas was better - my personal vote was for this one.
For desserts, we had their halo-halo. Very appealing to the eye, no?
There's another cozy dining area at the back, perfect for cool, overcast days.
For all the food we ordered (2 pizzas, 2 pastas, side order of potatoes, 2 halo-halos, 2 coffees), the bill came to slightly above PHP2,000.00. Which, for me, is excellent value, given the quality of the food and the relaxing garden setting, amidst a quiet part of the world.
So, yes, plans are afoot to come back next year. :D
Sitio Masanting, Sampaloc
FB: 'Lutong Pugon - Wood Fired Pizza' (@LutongPugon)