Already closed for the day and waiting for the last few diners to finish.
Arabela seems to be the top of mind choice for dining in Liliw, Laguna -- at least among visitors to this small town that's probably best known for its shoe and slippers industry. Sometime last month we had the chance of going to Liliw, however rushed, and predictably picked Arabela for dinner.
Here's a brief rundown of our experience.
Interiors and ambiance
I didn't really bother looking the place up and given its reputation, I thought it to be some grand dining spot. To my surprise, it's a really small place. And by small I mean it's not just the floor space and the cramped table layout but even the ceiling is very low. I felt really tall.
However, anyone would probably quickly realize as soon as he gets seated that it all adds up to Arabela's charm, working to its advantage even. I did, and it was an amusing realization. The walls and decor offer no apologies in letting everyone know that this is an Italian restaurant.
The restaurant occupies just the ground floor of this house. Look how low the ceiling is.
For some reason I find the cramped space working to Arabela's advantage.
This place is a confidence booster. I feel so tall!
Pastries and sweets to entice the sweet tooth in you.
All sorts of stuff at the counter.
The counter is filled with an assortment of imported goods like chocolates and coffee, and a selection of local food products that include nuts and a yema spread that immediately caught my eye. Their pastries and sweets are also in full view here.
The restroom also has a low ceiling and on your way there you'll get a peek into the restaurant's impressive industrial-grade kitchen. For such a small place its kitchen definitely wowed me.
Even if I knew nothing about the place before I came in, it was foolish of me to think of Arabela as another restaurant serving Filipino food, much like how I expected Faustina's in Los Baños to be. But anyway, Italian food is pure joy for me.
We tried their vongole pasta (Php 230), which was extremely generous with the clams. I liked it. As for the pizza, their kesong puti (Php 270 for large, Php 315 for XL) option was not as delightful. The kesong puti (goat's cheese) may be good but the other cheese they used didn't sit well with me. I found its consistency a bit weird but overall, the pizza ain't bad at all.
Kesong puti pizza and vongole pasta.
Dulce de leche cheesecake and bread pudding.
For dessert we had a slice of dulce de leche cheesecake (Php 110) and an order of bread pudding (Php 55). Both were good choices and they did put some effort in the presentation, so plus points for that. Coffee's also great.
We barely scratched the surface here because the restaurant has an extensive offering on its menu (you can check out the full Arabela menu here).
Despite the place being packed that evening, it was never a long wait for our food. The waitstaff may sometimes get lost in all the chaos but they're still quite attentive and efficient. Just don't expect a proper table setting because it already was a challenge for them to fit all the dishes on our diminutive table.
It would be unfair to judge the food based on one pizza and one pasta dish alone. So given its extensive menu, there's still a whole lot to try before a proper opinion can be formed. Nonetheless, Arabela's charm shines through and I do think it deserves a try if you happen to find yourself in this sleepy little town.
Arabela is located along Rizal Street in Liliw, Laguna. It opens at around 11am and closes by 6:30 or 7 in the evening (yes, it's that early!).