An Italian, his country’s cuisine and his love for Filipinos

By: Jose Santino S. Bunachita July 29,2018 - 08:40 PM

The crew of UrChoice Bistro is ready to serve homemade Italian cuisine to guests (below photo) in its recently opened Cebu branch along Barangay Kasambagan in Cebu City.


It started as an Italian national’s dream to bring homemade Italian cuisine to the people that he came to love – the Filipinos.

That was how in a nutshell a popular restaurant called UrChoice Bistro started in Dipolog City in Zamboanga del Norte in 2010.

The restaurant in Dipolog City became known for its Italian and Mediterranean offerings.

Eight years later, after receiving several feedback from the restaurant’s diners from Cebu and even Manila asking them to bring their Italian food offerings to their areas, the owners – Italian national Giovanni Galli and his Filipino partners – decided to open their first branch in Cebu last July 26.

Galli, who is also the consultant of the restaurant since it started, said they realized it was about time to branch out considering the demand from their customers.

“We were encouraged by our customers from Manila and from Cebu. They encouraged us to open in Cebu. We said we’d try. If people from Cebu eat in a lot of restos but they ask us to open in Cebu, maybe we are good,” he said.

Galli and his partners’ move to expand to Cebu also brought Galli to Cebu, who is hands on in helping run the restaurant, which is located along Avelino Morales St. in Barangay Kamputhaw, Cebu City.

30 years in PH

Galli has been living in the Philippines for the past 30 years and his impeccable Bisaya is proof of that.

He said he has learned to love the country and call it his home ever since he came here in 1988.

Back home in Italy, Galli never had any formal schooling in the culinary arts.

What taught him was his several years working as an assistant for two uncles who are both chefs in different restaurants. He started working for them when he was 12 years old.

It also helped that in Italy, cooking at home is a must for any family member.

“In Italy, cooking is a way of life. But it is also a challenge for everybody. For example if a man introduces a woman to his family, the first question is does she know how to cook? If not, she’s not accepted in the family,” he said in jest.

“Eating for us is a ritual. Picky kaayo mi (We are very picky eaters),” he added.

Italian trait

This Italian trait can be seen in the way Galli runs the restaurant.

On the special preview of the Cebu restaurant last week, Galli had to come to Cebu to make sure that things would run smoothly.

The attention to detail and meticulousness of Galli was evident during the special preview of UrChoice where he checked each and every dish that was being served to guests.

He would also move around the restaurant to ask each diner their thoughts on the dishes.

For Galli, he said this kind of feedback is very important for them to be able to satisfy their customers and to tweak their menu every now and then.

No to franchising

This is also one of the reasons that they decided not to franchise the restaurant even with a lot of inquiries from investors.

Galli wants that the same authentic taste he knows will also be tasted by everyone who eats in their restaurants.

In order to establish the branch in Cebu, Galli had to bring some staff from their kitchen from the Dipolog restaurant and had to train some chefs himself to perfect the kind of Italian taste that made the resto popular.

Menu, bestsellers

Their menu includes tray-cooked and stone-cooked pizzas, pastas, grilled meat and steaks, paninis, soups, salads, desserts and beverages.

Among their best sellers are the Ossobuco or American style beef shank cooked in traditional Milanese style; Dipolog Centennial Pasta which includes Dipolognon Spanish sardines; and the El

Buridon, a unique UrChoice creation with Italian sausage, cheese, and veggies.

Their wide selection of 30 flavors of pizza ranges from P350 to P460; while their pasta choices of 26 variants range from P128 to P328.

For now, Galli and his partners had no plans for more expansion but their focus will be on making their brand and their two restaurants to grow.

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TAGS: country’s, cuisine, Filipinos, Italian, love
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