Via Mare: The Living Legacy of Filipino Food

When it comes to food establishments serving delectable Filipino cuisine, the first thing that comes to my mind is Via Mare. All these years, Via Mare has been known for its signature well-loved Filipino dishes incorporated with modern touches. Hence, this restaurant is the go-to place of our OFW kababayans who miss the taste of Filipino cuisine.

Via Mare: The Living Legacy of Filipino FoodThis 2015, Via Mare is celebrating its 40th glorious year. And, what’s the best way to commemorate this momentous milestone than to look back at the legacy it has created all over the years in the restaurant industry.

Allow me take you to the living legacy of Via Mare.

Via Mare: The Living Legacy of Filipino FoodVia Mare: The Living Legacy of Filipino Food

Before, Filipino cuisine is served in a more family-oriented manner–without impressive decorations. But things changed in September 1975 when Via Mare,  opened its doors to the public. After the very first dish was served, Filipino cuisine was never the same again.

Via Mare changed the Filiino’s perception of its own cuisine plus it brought global recognition to the sophistication and complex flavors of the Philippines. Via Mare’s chef Glenda Barretto, who has been at the helm of the restaurant since its inception, and her strong belief in the Filipino cuisine’s potential to be world class is what pushed the restaurant to keep outdoing its achievements.

While Barretto’s contemporaries would focus on intercontinental cuisine as their piece de résistance, she opted to highlight and present well-loved Filipino dishes with modern touches that made it more palatable to foreign guests. If lumpia was known as a roll, the Via Mare version had the filling wrapped in pouches held together by spring onions. The tinola was also given a fresh take by serving the soup in a carved papaya or as a flan, inspired by the Chawanmushi of Japan.

“The past 40 years is not only the story of a restaurant, it is a story of the Filipino people,” Barretto said. “Via Mare is our pride as we helped a lot of Filipinos enjoy and be proud of the cuisine that we have here, of recipes that we have enjoyed throughout our childhood, and of what Filipino fine cuisine truly tastes like.”

Legacy of Taste

Since 1975, no other Filipino restaurant has been the top-of-mind when it comes to hosting dinners for dignitaries, heads of state, international celebrities, and international events. Here are some of the momentous events/occasions catered by Via Mare:

  • 1995 Miss Universe pageant in Manila
  • Papal visit of then Pope John Paul II
  • 1996 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit
  • Gala of the Philippine-run of West End’s Miss Saigon
  • 2007 ASEAN Summit in Cebu
  • Weddings of illustrious families, and other milestones in Philippine history

Via Mare, with Barretto herself leading the kitchen, was also the choice of First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos whenever she hosted gala dinners for visiting dignitaries at the Malacañang Palace. The former first lady’s penchant for elegance was apparent even in the food that she served her guests. In one instance, she requested for a more upscale version of the adobo – a request that Barretto easily managed by marinating the chicken in simmering adobo sauce with red wine. Another anecdote from the halls of presidential residence was how Barretto recreated a Mexican dish of squash, baked and topped with cream and caramel sauce based only on the narrative of Mrs. Marcos. The first lady nearly squealed in delight after the first bite.

Via Mare Over The Years

For the past 40 years, Via Mare branded itself according to the demands of its wide clientele. Café Via Mare was introduced to the market, dubbed to be a pioneer in introducing the first authentic Filipino café. The Via Mare Oyster Bar was also launched to cater to the more discriminating taste and specialized in serving the most succulent of oysters.

For its 40th year, selected mediamen  and bloggers were invited for a lunch date at Cafe Via Mare in Eastwood Mall where delectable lunch menus were served. Other media people were invited in its different branches for breakfast, merienda and dinner too. Since Via Mare serves Filipino cuisine that matches the eating pattern of Filipinos: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and merienda. Here are the dishes served to us by the chefs of Via Mare: 

Via Mare 40th YearVia Mare Lunch Menu

Via Mare Menu Ensaladang PakoEnsaladang Pako
I instantly fell in love with the palatable taste of Ensaladang Pako. Perfect perk me up appetizer. It’s made with healthy and fresh bunches of crisp fern leaves with tomatoes, salted egg and shrimp with a simple refreshing vinaigrette.

Via Mare 40th Year MenuCrispy Binagoongan
crispy pork bellies with sautéed bagoong

Via Mare 40th Year Pinais na Alimasag
I love the taste of the blue crab shell stuffed with flavorful crabmeat  and young coconut, cooked in coco cream, wrapped and boiled in banana leaves for a smoky aroma.

Via Mare 40th YearRellenong Bangus
Stuffed whole milkfish with savoury tomato sauce.

Via Mare 40th YearArroz Ala Cubana
Ground beef cooked in sofrito with raisins and snow peas. This is served with fried egg and plantain.

Via Mare 40th YearSinigang na Hipon and Beef Kaldereta were also served.

Via MareVariation of rice that you can order depending on your preference.

Aside from these dishes mostly ordered during lunch and dinner time. Via Mare also serves fresh Pan de sal every day, grilled with sides of corned beef, Vigan longganisa, Laguna cheese, and queso de bola. Other breakfast favorites, but can be enjoyed any time of the day, like tapa, smoked bangus, tuyo flakes, and tocino are served under the Altanghap section of the menu, an abbreviation for almusal, tanghalian, and hapunan – Filipino terms for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

An extensive array of salads with native greens is also on offer, as well as comfort food like arroz caldo and tokwa’t baboy.

Merienda, or light snacks, are as important as main meals for Filipinos. At Via Mare, diners can choose from well-loved Filipino fare such as puto bumbong, palitaw, and guinataang halo-halo. No need to wait for Christmas season, as you can enjoy here your favorite puto bombing anytime of the year.

After a sumptuous gastronomic treat, you may choose to end your meal with an equally delish iced deserts such as halo-halo, mais con yelo, guinomis. You may try the shooters for less than a hundred pesos that includes small serving of those previously stated deserts.

Via Mare 4th YearThank you so much Via Mare for making us part of your 40th year! Please continue your passion in serving Filipino cuisine sprinkled with love and affection of your Filipino chef. May you have more glorious years to come your way!

What are you waiting for delight in the well-loved Filipino flavors and savor your classic family favorites at Via Mare.

For more information, visit VIA MARE’s social media accounts:
FB: @ViamarePH

Via Mare locations: 

  • Via Mare @ PICC
  • Cafe & Oyster Bar Express, The Landmark at Trinoma
  • Cafe & Oyster Bar Express, Eastwood Mall
  • Cafe & Oyster Bar Express, Rockwell
  • Cafe & Oyster Bar Express, EDSA Shangri-la Plaza Mall
  • Cafe & Oyster Bar Express, Greenbelt 1 and Greenbelt 3
  • Cafe & Oyster Bar Express, The Landmark – Makati
  • Cafe & Oyster Bar Express, Greenhills Promenade
  • Cafe & Oyster Bar Express, UP Diliman Campus – GT Toyota Center
  • Cafe & Oyster Bar Express, Tomas Morato
  • Cafe & Oyster Bar Express, Panay Avenue
  • Cafe & Oyster Bar Express, St. Luke’s Global

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