Peach pizza, anyone?

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A NEW Quezon City restaurant is set to shake things up. We’ve heard that before, but then, you’ve never had peaches on a pizza, have you?

Diner 55 in Quezon City is a passion project of Jean Dumago-Descallar, who named her restaurant after her own age, in homage to her own pursuit of her dreams.

“When I was young, my family could not afford delicious food especially those served by restos because we weren’t fortunate enough. Growing up poor, it was heaven for me every time my parents treated me in a carinderia (street-side eatery) that served affordable local delicious and comfort food. Until now, I still eat there every time I visit my hometown in Mindanao,” she said.

During the Oct. 29 press conference, she said that she got the idea from a restaurant in the US that she really liked. She remembered telling herself, “Soon, I’ll be having my own restaurant.”

To achiever her dream, she sought the help of RJ Ungco, President and CEO of Ungco Restaurant Management Consultancy, who helped her conceptualized the menu (55 dishes in total). Mr. Ungco has had experience working in Le Souffle, Prince Albert, The Cravings Group, Peri-Peri Charcoal Chicken, and Shrimp Bucket; being in the industry for over 20 years. “[The number] 55 also represents two hands ready to serve and help,” said Ms. Dumago-Descallar, citing their own initiatives to provide employment for the less fortunate.

BusinessWorld got to taste two out of the 55 dishes: the Hey Jean and Yo Fernando pizzas (named after Ms. Dumago-Descallar and her husband). The Hey Jean is designed to be rolled up with arugula, and is topped with peri-peri chicken, caramelized onions, chickpea and corn hummus, and jalapenos. It’s pleasantly tangy sweet, and tasty, even with the novel toppings.

The Yo Fernando pizza has a pleasantly chewy crust, double-smoked ham, mozzarella cheese, and a balsamic reduction on tomato sauce. Oh, yes, and peaches. Mr. Ungco said that despite his experience working in Italy, his favorite pizza happens to the Hawaiian — making the Yo Fernando a riff from the pineapple-topped pizza. It’s really quite good, and tastes like biting into a hefty burger — the peaches aren’t noticeable, and steers into the way of sweet onions or peppers. Other menu items include cereal milk panna cotta, Chicken and waffles (with a bit of ube or purple yam), and a variety of burgers and rice bowls.

If we judge by the two pizzas alone, we’re going to give points to Diner 55 by starting a conversation on what goes into a pizza, but, more importantly, serving food with quality and a now-foreign sense of food tasting earnest and honest. It feels like someone innocently put all of the things they like on a pizza and expected someone else to like it, with that gamble unexpectedly paying off.

Speaking of payoffs and gambling, we asked Ms. Dumago-Descallar why she put up a restaurant in the middle of the pandemic. It’s quite a huge investment in more ways than one: it has 550 sqm. of space spread across three levels, and a dining capacity of 200 seats — though health-related restrictions only allow them to seat about 64 for now. No matter, since an -al fresco area sits about 10 people. Ms. Dumago-Descallar is optimistic. “I believe that the situation is not permanent,” she said. “By 2022, this will become okay already.” — Joseph L. Garcia

Diner 55 is at 1-i Dr. Garcia Street cor. Mother Ignacia Ave., Brgy Paligsahan, Quezon City or call 7256-4345 to place orders for pickup or delivery. The new diner is open daily from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m.

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