In my 20-year experience with Filipinos, what I have noticed is that Pinoy restaurants here in Italy have always had a hard time succeeding.
The over 50,000 Pinoy who live and work in Rome do eat out quite a lot, but they usually prefer fast-food chains like KFC, Mc Donald’s and Burger King and eat all you can restaurants run by Chinese to Filipino ones.
One reason is probably the fact that most Filipinos who live here are either part of a big family and have several relatives here or they are part of a religious community like the Iglesya ni Kristo or the Saksi ni Jehova or others.
Therefore they have plenty of options to taste Pinoy food in the several salu-salo or social gatherings that take place on a weekly basis within their extended family circle or their community.
Because Pinoy salu-salo follow the K.K.B. (kanya-kanyang baon) rule and every participant is expected to bring something, there is usually way more Pinoy food available in an average salu-salo than in a Pinoy restaurant.
This is perhaps the reason why Pinoy restaurants here in Rome are not so many.
However there are some and they have enough parokyano to sustain their business, and all the more so because they also do catering services.
The most popular Pinoy restaurants in town are Neighborhood, Asian Delight and Manila Restaurant.
We usually go to Neighborhood, a Kapampangan restaurant situated in the Vatican area.
The reason why we go to this one is because we know the owners.
Despite the fact that local Filipinos have plenty of salu-salo and, therefore many don’t go to Pinoy restaurants that often, most of the times we eat at Neighborhood, there are a lot of parokyano (most are likely OFW from other parts of Italy or other countries who are visiting Rome as tourists)
Portions are huge and prices are very reasonable.
The level of cleanliness is way above the average Pinoy standards and the C.R. or Comfort Rooms (a.k.a. toilets) are super clean.
According to what’s written on the menu, drinks should include tubig ng buhay (a.k.a. Red Horse beer) but each time I go they never have it (or maybe they have it nakatago somewhere….).
Their halo-halo is the best I have tasted so far here in Italy.
So if you visit Rome and are looking for Pinoy food you can easily find it in large amounts and of good quality in one of the above-mentioned restaurants.
And if you know some Pinoy here and have the chance to be invited to a large salu-salo, your chances to eat sagana and masarap na Pinoy food are even better.
Mabuhay ang masarap na pagkain!