Nestled in the cracks of the buzzing city is a safe haven, a pocket of tranquility hidden in the rather wide eskinita along 30th street. It’s a place where you can sip your coffee while observing men in suits whoosh past the window, or get some work done yourself as you enjoy the homey scent of freshly toasted bread floating in the whole restaurant. Pocofino, the newest hub for Italian comfort food, has penetrated every Manileño’s favorite bubble, BGC.
Last October 7, I had the privilege of attending their opening event. The night was a mix of mini pizzas and spiked iced tea, graced by the presence of Italian dignitaries. The crowd was a mix of up-and-comers alongside established individuals, some beaming with pride and others just happy to be there.
What started as an idea, fresh from Italy itself, eventually became a family endeavor.
Tuesday Angliongto, who’s behind this project, finished her studies in Italy, where she eventually fell in love with this European destination and soon after, got her family on board to create what is now their new baby.
“We got the idea for Pocofino when my dad took me to Italy to set me up for my masters,” she said. “My dad and a friend went down to Rome to visit Danesi Caffe to explore bringing them back to the Philippines and the rest of Asia. Initially, we were going to focus on bringing in Danesi Caffe, but as we expanded to include other Italian brands, we made a brand that could be the umbrella for others.”
And so, Pocofino was born. Since then, it has grown into the sophisticated retro cafe it is today. Packed with options, its menu includes classic coffees such as the traditional Americano, lattes, espressos, and mochas, complemented with their modern equivalents. Have you ever had an iced tiramisu latte? I have. And it is damn good.
At Sistine Chapel, ‘we helped turn on the lights and unlock doors to different exhibits’
“We wanted to create a space that was warm, welcoming, and retro modern,” said Tuesday. “Places in Italy make use of old spaces and modernize or update them to a current style, so we wanted to bring that sense to the café. For the retro touch, we referenced mid-century modern design, around the ‘60s to be specific.”
With a Wes Anderson atmosphere, the cafe evokes a sense of coziness balanced by a futuristic feel. The urban and polished look contrasts with the timeless Italian items on its menu, from lattes to iced americanos, highlighting the forgotten art of appreciating the little things. Hence the name Pocofino.
“Pocofino is a portmanteau we created from the combination of the Italian words ‘poco’ (small) and ‘fino’ (fine). We want to highlight the idea of focusing on small, simple joys that can bridge cultures and people. We strive to highlight small fine things.”
It is rare to find authenticity in the rather greedy society we live in. So, it was a breath of fresh air to come across genuineness in this new establishment. Perhaps it is the youth of the entrepreneurs or the passion they have. Maybe it is both. As Tuesday shared her memories of Italy with me, her love for the country was evident.
“Since I lived there, there are a lot of fond memories I have of Italy, a lot of good memories I have are shared with friends over food. Similar to Filipino culture, Italian culture is very much food and drink-centered. During the day, we have a cup of coffee, which is traded for a glass or bottle of wine in the evening.
“Unrelated to food, but a strong memory I have from Italy is when I was taking my masters, visiting the Sistine Chapel before visiting hours. It was a special tour in collaboration between our school and the Vatican Museum, so we were the only ones in the museum at 6 a.m. We helped turn on the lights and unlock the doors to the different exhibits. When we got to the Sistine Chapel, we had it to ourselves to sit and observe the art quietly. It was a profound moment that surpassed a feeling of experiencing another culture, but instead I felt as if I was sharing a global experience.”
It was indeed an honor to witness the introduction of Pocofino to the public eye. To share this experience with the newest entrepreneurs themselves and their beaming family was almost as fulfilling as discovering the food.
As a foodie myself, it is obvious to me that this will be the place to go for absolutely anything; a snack, a drink, a pick-me-up, a hangout, a meeting, a study space. The sophisticated Italian café meets the desire for human connection. It is a legacy in the making, and one I will gladly be watching.
Check out their menu: https://pocofino.com