The Aria Cucina Italiana, or simply ARIA, is “arguably the most popular and sought-after restaurant in Boracay since it’s inception in 2003.” Not only that. To bring the heat to another level, “a trip to one of the world’s most famous beach destinations is never complete without a visit to ARIA.” And those are not our words. Those are the statements of Aria itself. So the last time we went to Boracay, we dropped by Aria.
It’s so easy to miss eating in Aria. I mean, it’s not easy to miss it because it’s right along the main walkway perpendicular to the beachfront in Boracay, at the entrance of D’Mall in Station 2. But this is not a rocky cliff in some Italian or Mediterranean place, or a vineyard with long stretches of grape vines. Boracay is a beach-paradise, man.
Who would ordinarily go for Italian food in a world-famous, perfect beach? Ya mon, it’s about island living. But something about ARIA made us WANT to try this Italian joint.
First reason: the rave reviews on the food. It’s absolutely not based on what ARIA says about itself. It’s what we’ve heard from our friends who tried this Italian restaurant, as well as from the friends of our friends who also tried it. They said the food is heavenly. And we discovered, after we tried ARIA, that they are right.
Second reason: the location and ambiance. It’s not unusual to see people patiently waiting in line to wait for a table to get vacant. And you have to summon all the patience you’ve got. ARIA, you see, is strategically located along the pathway beside the beach, which means that it’s highly visible and accessible to everyone. The lighting is warm, the place cozy, and the crowd relaxed. It’s so easy to kick your feet up, so to speak, and bask in that comfortable ambiance, to the consternation, we suppose, of the waiting patrons. We purposely arrived early to avoid the queue.
Third reason: the sand. No, there’s no sand on the food and there’s no gimmick involving sand. By “sand,” we mean enjoying great Italian food al fresco, outside the restaurant (which was under renovation when we went there) and ON the beach (well, the upper portion of the beach).
You could dig in, devour the pizza and pasta, while digging your feet in the sandy shore. It’s weird to wear shoes in Boracay. So you have slippers or flip-flops. Or you could go barefoot. No problem at all. Talk about adding “texture” to your food.
We chose to order the usual fare, for our stomach, and some new stuff, for our adventurous palates. There is, of course, the usual pizza, although there’s nothing generic about the pizza in ARIA. We tried Boscaiola (tomato sauce, ham, mushroom and mozzarella) and Quattro Formaggi (topped with four different cheeses: pecorino, feta, parmesan and mozzarella).
For pasta, we though we can’t go wrong with the usual Marinara (seafood pasta of the mediterranean coast, choice of tomato or olive oil-based sauce) and Carbonara (pasta in an egg yolk cream sauce with parmesan cheese and crispy bacon bits), and tried our palates with the Ai tre formaggi (gongonzola, fontina and parmigiano).
We enjoyed ARIA so much we almost forgot to take photos, and even if we managed to remember to take pictures, we didn’t bother to check if these pictures are ok. We came. We were hungry. We saw the great food. We conquered.
There’s a lot of establishments, places and activities in Boracay that would properly be the subject of the phrase “if you have not done it/tried it, you haven’t been to Boracay.” ARIA CUCINA ITALIANA is indeed one of these places. So the next time you’re in Boracay, try ARIA.