TEXT & PHOTO: Kaycie Gayle
Amidst the presence of modern dining places in a bustling area sits quietly a century-old bistro named Historic Camalig Restaurant. It was originally been built to serve as a place where grains like rice and corn are kept after harvest hence the name of the restaurant. Camalig is a Filipino word which means storehouse.
This century-old edifice was built in 1840 by Don Ciriaco de Miranda, the first gobernadorcillo or governor of the town, and was used as a rice granary. It was allegedly a shed made of light materials and later restored and upgraded in the early 1900s to its present form by the town’s first post-colonial mayor Capitan Juan Nepomuceno. This aged building has changed hands through different generations of the Nepomuceno family and eventually, the late Armando Nepomoceno inherited the century-old building. In 1980 he converted the rice granary into a restaurant when he relocated his small pizzeria called Armando’s Pizza which is named after him. It is one of the pioneering pizzerias in town and his pizza has been delighting the tastebuds of the people from his town since then. Also, because the pizzeria was transferred to the old grain warehouse, it has been since known as The Home of Armando’s Pizza.
Historic Camalig Restaurant Kitchen
The aged grain depot graciously withstood time and natural disasters. Despite being made of wood and rubble, its antiquity has been preserved. With its adobe walls with brick highlights, wood trusses, wrought iron window grills and old furnishings, one would feel its authentic old world charm like stepping back in time. Allegedly, the original structure of this restaurant is that of a house and barn (camalig). However, this structure has since been partially converted into a commercial space yet the old barn still retains most of its colonial charm that somehow resembles with that of a western saloon.
Old entrance door and wine bottle collection on an old wooden shelf
The place has indeed a rustic barn appeal as if the owners have really incorporated the characters of a true Camalig in making its design thus giving it a dirty chic interior design style that gives it a unique character to the place. Complemented by its decor the overall look is strikingly vintage. Hence, after stepping inside the door, you will definitely feel the antiquity of the place.
Old Photos and stairs that elicits Rustic barn appeal
Little antique details
Anyone who would like to experience this aged restaurant would find their most comfortable spot as it has three types of dining areas, the air-conditioned area, a non-aircon part and an outdoor seating area. The airconditioned room is a sort of a mezzanine that rises in the middle of the restaurant. Allegedly this is known as Galleria Olivia which can accommodate parties and meetings. It has a ceiling draping of white fabric and balloon looking ornaments with hanged bottle lamps and antique petrol inspired electric lamps. Its wooden framed glass walls have a look of shabby chic and have witty signs. While its tables have varying sizes from for two, fours, six seaters. Located at a corner is a piano that gives the dining area a somehow classy appeal.
Table for bigger groups
Meanwhile, the aged-feel authentic ambiance is evidently felt on the non-airconditioned room. On the walls hanged old frames with decades-old faded photographs of early personages and bygone quaint town. This dining area is decored with bric-à-brac from the hand-woven baskets in the entrance to potteries and vintage cookware and tableware on the shelves. While vintage appliances, antique pieces like kalesa wheels, old carved chests, books, and sculptures are scattered throughout the restaurant. There’s also a display cabinet used for old wine bottles and religious mementos. Inside, wagon wheel table and other worn out wooden tables are matched with red-painted french wrought iron chairs which suitably adds to the unique charm of the wood and stone structure. On its corner is a vintage looking bar and on one end is a dark hall that seems to be a hidden spot but could actually transform into a dining area. Its lighting is a bit dim and has large windows where the light passes through when the lights are off.
Non-airconditioned dining area
Hidden spot dining area
Meanwhile, its patio is landscaped for al fresco dining which is perfect for breezy afternoon or a cool evening. Its tables are set outside with canopy for shaded dining during the day.
This restaurant specializes in hand-rolled crispy crust pizzas with native toppings. It has been serving the same original classic homegrown recipe
since 1973. The restaurant takes pride with Armando’s Pizza however, it also has several variations offered from their menu wherein different local toppings are featured. As the restaurant uses pizza as a canvass to highlight native flavors and tastes, it becomes the signature dish. Their pizzas may look simple but its flavorful taste comes from its strong ingredients while battling yet complementing one another through its combination. Matched with a patiently prepared crust this restaurant certainly offering pizzas with a Filipino twist.
Served fresh and hot is Doy’s Kapampangan Pizza. It embodies Kapampangan cuisine as it is topped with one of the delicacies that Capampangan is known for, the longganisa. It also has salted duck eggs and garnished with onion and pickle relish. Its dough is handmade with artisan care and baked to celestial crispy-crust perfection. It has the right thickness and right amount of flakiness and complemented by a special sauce.
Doy’ Kapampangan Pizza
For desserts, you may choose Fried Ice Cream which you can choose with either chocolate or strawberry syrup. The frozen treat ice cream is coated with fried bread making the outer part crunchy and hot but its inside is soft and cold.
Fried Ice Cream
Meanwhile, for coffee lovers, they have brewed native coffee which is Barako Coffee that is simply prepared that is perfect for those who like strong coffee.
Brewed native coffee
Dine in this restaurant which is a delicate reminder of a long-ago Philippine time. A restaurant that was able to withstand the lure of modernization by preserving legacy structures, culinary culture, and heirloom dishes. Long before heritage preservation in business was in fashion, it has been adaptively reused for commerce as a restaurant and up to the present is still being appreciated by both its townspeople and tourists alike.
This restaurant is located at 292 Sto. Rosario Street, Angeles City, Pampanga, Philippines.
Acknowledgments to angelescity.gov.ph