Everybody knows pizza came from Italy, but everybody also has his/her idea of what pizza really is. For some (or many of us here in the Philippines), it’s that thick bread topped with all sorts of meat, swimming in mozzarella and filled with enough ingredients to wipe out a kitchen. It may even include things that never really grew in Italy, such as pineapples. I myself, when I was growing up in my hometown down south, thought pizza was like whatever Shakey’s said it is (Shakey’s is a pizza chain, much like the more popular and global Pizza Hut). Back then Shakey’s was the only “real” pizza parlor in town, and everybody went crazy with their thick crusts topped with ingredients too many to memorize.
It’s not that we shouldn’t enjoy such “over-stuffed” pizzas…the ability to reinvent things has always been one manifestation of mankind’s greatness (and I do enjoy Pizza Hut, and also Shakey’s but to a lesser extent), but I’m sure most of us have wondered what kind of pizza did the old Italians really make, when all that they had was what they could get from their farms or backyards. For sure it didn’t have tons of meat…meat was expensive in those days (much more than now, I presume). I also don’t think it overflowed with mozzarella, since it cannot be stored for long, and there was no such thing as a refrigerator back then. I would think, however, that they had lots of tomatoes, basils and cheeses that are aged. And so when I think of what kind of pizza did they really have in those days, then those are the ingredients that come into my mind. A few basil leaves, some tomato slices and a sprinkling of cheese of whatever kind over a thin dough…plain, simple and beautiful.
Nowadays, especially here in Manila, you would no longer find it difficult to find a place that serves pizza close to the traditional way, but that is if you are willing to spend. Traditional pizzas are mostly served in high-end restaurants, and even the likes of Amici (in its current form) are still pretty much pricey for some. However, we recently found a pizza place close to home, along Merville in Paranaque, where we can indulge in thin crusts without our wallets getting as thin.
The place is called Handuraw, and their website says they also have branches in Davao, Cebu (where they started) and Quezon city. Their small branch (it can only sit up to 20, tightly, I think) in Merville sits at a quiet road that links the village with the neighboring Moonwalk. Traffic is usually thin in this area, as it’s just mostly the “villagers” who go about, but I think the place quite fits its target market – families. Quality wise, the food does remind me bit of Amici in their “simpler” days, when they were just a bit more mature than a “canteen” at the Don Bosco compound in Makati. Not quite exactly the same, but comes pretty close in my opinion. Put simply, it can make me forget about going to Makati or nearby BGC, if I want good pizza (and they got good pasta too).
The other good thing about them is the price. For less than Php300 you can get your group a good pizza that might cost twice as much in places like Makati. And, for less than Php100, you can get a generous bowl of pasta or rice with toppings. With prices like that, you would think you were in Bukidnon, or somewhere else rural, rather than in the suburbs of Metro Manila.
Are there better pizzas elsewhere in Manila? Probably, but not very many. But can you get anything this good, at this price, anywhere else? This I can confidently say NO. To be honest, we’ve already dined at Handuraw several times before I managed to bring a camera along one day and take these pictures. The previous times we were there were all unplanned. We just passed by, their food crossed our minds, and we were there faster than you can spell I-T-A-L-Y. The price is just so cheap, it felt like a non-event. In fact, it felt like we were just eating food at home…very, very good food at home.
* These photos were taken last November 2011, witch a Panasonic Lumix LX5.