Episode 27: Farewell, Cosa Nostra!

Cosa Nostra (or Cosa Nostra, Casa di Pasta), an old, hole-in-the-wall spaghetti house in Malate, is gone. This was one of my most recent discoveries, yet I would never be able to dine there again. Why? Because it closed down last June 30. How sad. 

I found this Italian restaurant by accident during one of my night-outs in Malate. It was standing on a dark corner of Remedios Circle, hidden in plain sight, a simple, plain-looking place that only a few who knew its story would visit.

Everything about Casa Nostra made one feel the place was frozen in time. Lamps, jars and old photographs (presumed to be the relatives or ancestors of the owner) lined up against the walls. Soft, ‘60s or ‘70s music played in the background. It’s cozy, good for dining alone, with a group, or a special someone. At night, the place is dimly lit, making romantic candlelight dinners possible.

The food was homemade, served hot and fresh. You had to wait for 15 minutes or so, but the wait is worth it. The taste, on the other hand, is up for debate; some loved the simple flavors while other found them too salty or bland or stale.
I’ve only tried a few dishes from their menu, namely: a hearty bowl of lentil soup, spaghetti carbonara followed by a cup of café rivello, pesto pizza, and seafood casserole, one of their best-sellers.
Lentil soup, warm, thick and hearty with sausage bits
Cosa Nostra’s carbonara, with ham bits, separate serving of parmesan cheese, and a thick heavy cream sauce

Cafe rivello, bittersweet with a cappuccino-like creaminess

Pesto pizza, a salty pizza with lots of cheese and a hint of pesto
Seafood casserole, oily pasta infused with the light, natural flavor of seafood and herbs
Other dishes they have are the lasagna, fried mozzarella, spaghetti with crab roe paste (also known as the heart-breaking “taba ng talangka”), and Black Spaghetti (spaghetti with squid ink sauce).
From what the patrons told me, Casa Nostra opened about 28 years ago. The restaurant was a favorite spot, much like some of the old restaurants around Remedios Circle. It was, as they said, one of the icons of Malate’s so-called bohemian lifestyle.
I was there when Casa Nostra closed for the last time, as the elderly staff served the last orders and the customers bid farewell to everyone, as the decors were taken down one by one. It felt like waking up from a pleasant dream. I never bothered to ask why it was closing down, but I might find the reason outrageous. I’m saddened that just when I have yet to fully appreciate the place, it would become out of business.

Now that I think about it, I’ve encountered other places that go down in Malate’s history but are now overshadowed by modern hang-out establishments, some of which get closed down in the process. Only the old patrons of Malate and those from the present generation would know of these places.

For example, we had Anthology, an institution for music lovers, that closed down a few years ago, and is now nothing more than a bunch of ruins. Cafe Adriatico closed down when fire damaged its second floor (thank goodness it didn’t stay that way, and it’s still as popular as before. ). And now, we have Cosa Nostra. (Then there’s Hobbit House, but I’ll save some space for that in my blog soon.)

Someday I’d like to seek out the old places in Malate that are still standing despite the changing times. I’ve had enough of the karaoke clubs and girlie bars sprouting all over Malate. I’d like to know how people hung out a long time ago, which were the spots that were popular among the youth, artists, businessmen, and so forth. I’d like to know which places were part of Manila’s old lifestyle.

Argh, I’m having a hard time explaining this. In any case, it would be nice to relive and preserve what’s left of Malate’s past, if only through where the past generation hangs out. I’ll think about how to go about this until my next discovery.


One thought on “Episode 27: Farewell, Cosa Nostra!

  1. Anonymous October 26, 2011 / 3:10 am

    too bad.it too was my favorite haunt… ; (


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