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.
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 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.