Italian food with a side of musical theater at Caruso

Since it opened in 2002, Caruso Ristorante Italiano has been spoken of with hushed aspirational tones among foodies.

It is that restaurant that ardent Italian food lovers keep to themselves to enjoy classic authentic Italian antipasti, pasta, brick oven pizzas, and desserts with a carafe or two of Italian red wine on the side in peace.

But even with its relatively low profile, this constant of Manila’s dining scene has been the venue for many romantic dates, engagements, wedding proposals, and intimate celebrations.

And as it continues its year-long 20th anniversary celebration, Caruso hosts “Timeless,” a show by the musical theater group Tribu, this April 14.

Guests can enjoy an Italian four-course dinner featuring favorites from the restaurant’s menu during the show.

The antipasti are a choice between Insalate alla Cesare con Lattuga Romana with Caruso’s version of Caesar’s salad dressing, or Piatto assortito di Salami Italiano, a curated plate of Italian cold cuts.

For the pasta course, diners can have either the Ravioli Multicolor Pasta with butter and sage, or the Triticco Pasta – Truffle Tagliatelle with Parma Ham and Asparagus, Garganelli with porcini mushroom sauce, and Spinach Raviolini in butter and sage.

Diners are given three options for their main course: Scallopine al limone (veal with lemon sauce), Pollo Milanese (breaded chicken with roasted potato), or Lapu Lapu alla favignana (grilled breaded lapu lapu with capers and olives).

For those who want to indulge, entrees from the restaurant’s Golden Menu are available as an additional order such as the Golden Tomahawk, a full tomahawk steak topped with gold leaf.

Classic desserts Tiramisu and Panna Cotta are the sweet endings for the night.

After dessert, the fun starts. The lights are dimmed, and the show begins. For Caruso’s past concerts, there have been “Broadway and Beyond” and “One Night in Hollywood” musical revues featuring tenor Jonathan Balonso and soprano Allison Tanner belting out favorites from the stage and screen.

In the previous show, 88-year-old Caruso owner Emilio Mina was the absolute star of the night. When the spotlight shines on the spry and ever-elegant Mina and he starts to sing his heart out, one can’t help but join in the revelry, standing up and singing along when he takes on the Money Heist anthem “Bella Chao.”

The evening then becomes an open mic night for karaoke kings and queens to partake of the revelry until the early hours of the morning.

For the next one, the featured performer is Tribu of Ephesus Teatron Group, featuring musical theater veterans — sopranos Sweet Samaniego Buchanan and Margarita Roco, tenors Nazer Salcedo and Terence Guillermo, and baritone Onyl Torres — performing a repertoire of Filipino and European classical music.

Tickets are priced at P4,700 per seat, inclusive of the show and the 4-course dinner.

For inquiries and reservations, get in touch with Caruso at (02) 8895-8790 or the Ephesus Teatron Group at (0945) 991-1840 or (0917) 590-1028