Mino’s Napoli Pizza: It’s Italian, but it’s also Ilocano

Napoli pizza with tomatoes, olives and anchovies

What do Italian and Ilocano cuisines have in common? Smelly salted anchovies, in Ilocano,  “bugguong a monamon”. Many people may find the smell of this preserved fish ingredient repulsive, but it is what makes both cuisines excitingly flavorful.

Ilocanos can’t live without the funky smelling fish. They consume “bugguong” like crazy. They use it on “dinengdeng”, “pinakbet”, salads, or eat it plain with their rice. Ilocanos bring their “bugguong” wherever they go, even to America, to the consternation of their whole neighborhood.

Anchovies is also the backbone to numerous Italian dishes. Italians are wont to add anchovies to certain pizza and pasta dishes.

A native of Como in Italy, and married to an Ilocana, Mr. Giacomo “Mino” Iavorone, owner of Mino’s Italian Pizza in Badoc makes his own salted “monamon” condiment. It is present in his Napoli Pizza, which I adore. Not really a hole in the wall, the no-frills, relaxed Mino’s pizzeria has been around since January 1996, and it remains to be visited by Ilocos locals and travelers alike.

I asked him how do Ilocanos like his cooking, and he said, “At first, they were agkadiakadiay (flip-flopping). Now, they have accepted the Italian way. I don’t cook sweet spaghetti. I use only the freshest tomatoes, and I make my own dough and pastas.”

“I’m getting old. No, just this,” he said when I asked if he intends to open up another pizzeria like in Laoag.

Spinach ravioli in butter

Mino’s menu consists of spaghetti, cannelloni, ravioli, lasagna, tramezzini sandwiches, his own version of hamburger, and pizzas that come in two sizes and flavors such as napoli, margherita, capricciosa, seafood, al pesto, mushrooms, salami and cheese. The prices are easy on the pocket, nothing over fifty pesos for each serving of pasta, and his pizzas, big, P180-240 and small, P100-150.

White Pizza with white sauce, mushrooms, bacon and cheese

White pizza is his latest. The carbonara-like sauce was good. As usual, the crust was chewy and nice, not cardboard-like. He also has a new ravioli that comes in mushroom sauce which I have to try next time.

Mino’s down in Badoc is just so hard to ignore, the smell of anchovies in his napoli pizza calls time and again.

Mino’s Italian Pizza Badoc, Ilocos Norte (Open from Mondays to Saturdays) Tel. No. (077) 6700083 Cellphone  No. (0926)6464174
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Beach lovers… shake those piña coladas in Ilocos!!

Ilocos Norte takes pride in its verdant surroundings and fine beaches. The southernmost town of Badoc, hometown of great painter Juan Luna, also boasts of Badoc Island, a surfer’s paradise. Go north and you will find the Coral Rock Formations — Currimao’s treasure — in Brgy. Pangil. The beach, very child-friendly, is a wonderful snorkeling  spot.  The next town, Paoay, is  home to an  idyllic beach in Brgy. Masintoc. If you’re yearning for utmost peace and quiet with just the relaxing sound of ocean waves, this is definitely paradise for you. A little up north in Paoay is Suba Beach and next is the more popular Calayab Beach near the Fort Ilocandia Resort Hotel in Laoag.

There are many undiscovered beaches in Laoag. La Paz, proximate to the sand dunes, is one. I could go on and on. My pro surfer friends visited once to explore surfing spots; they all agreed that Caaoacan is ideal.

North of Laoag, you can easily find delight in the fishing town of  Pasuquin where there is a long stretch of sandy shores. Barangays Nalvo and Estancia translate to beach bliss. I rediscovered the beauty of Sexy Beach in Estancia just recently (click on to read an earlier post). And here’s a bonus — entirely for nature appreciation — an eco-tour at the Davila Mangroves. Please respect the place once you’re there and marvel at the distinct ecosystem — a sanctuary for juvenile ocean creatures. It was where we took-off for our incredible and unforgettable dolphin exploration adventure, which is possible only within the months of  March to July. Also, a must-see is Kapurpurawan (sometimes spelled as Kapurpuraoan) Rock Formation in Burgos.

Not to be missed is The Windmills of Bangui, built by the Northwind Power Development Corporation, after which you can end your beach hopping in Pagudpud. If you can’t decide where to go, as there are many good choices… oh, I recommend visiting  Saud, Blue Lagoon and Pasaleng, then decide where to chill-out the longest.

You can always leave a message at the comment box if you wish to inquire on accommodations. I’d love to answer you back, as it is what this blog is all about… and, perhaps, what I do best.

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