Some people go through great lengths to find a chance to do what they love most. For Venjoy Alegre and his family, they found that chance and used it to celebrate the memory of his late brother, Alezon, and all the things that they enjoyed together–good food, great company, and a space to share all of it.
Venjoy Alegre’s many loves shine through in this cafe, and every visitor who steps in falls in love with them too, almost instantaneously. From the moment you step into the cafe, it’s inevitable that every detail would capture your heart.
Wine bottles line the windows, and vintage toys and trinkets line the shelf alongside the books. The long tables are made of beautifully colored tiles, and faces of artists and famous paintings are on posters on the walls or deco’d onto the tables. Every tidbit of their personality was poured out into this cafe for display, and it’s truly a sight to behold.
My personal favorite piece is this truly majestic vintage chess set, which usually sits atop a chest. There are also dice and marbles for backgammon and the Chinese Checkers, which the chess set can transform into.
As meticulous as they were with designing the space to eat food, the dishes themselves are in no way lacking.
But before anything else, try the pizza. I urge you to do so; it is the one decision in your life that you will not regret. I’m not kidding when I say that their crust has a One Michelin Star Chef’s seal of approval. (It’s a great story, ask the owner.)
But despite all this, there’s nothing snooty about their menu at all. It’s all mostly a creative take on comfort food. From Mexican food like nachos and quesadillas, to their Italian offerings like pizza and pasta, all make a perfect supplement to a long conversation over coffee and crepe you will undoubtedly have at this cafe.
And then comes in another piece of what they love: travelling. They’ve taken the best bits of everywhere they’ve been and put it into their menu. Anna–the owner’s wife–would sometimes tell us how Venjoy enjoys learning about food visually, and so he would often try to recreate dishes himself. Not just limited to Mexican and Italian comfort food, Cafe Alezon also delves into Filipino cuisine, and even Spanish. Their Seafood & Chicken Paella Valenciana is possibly the best Paella you will have (in Metro Manila). Made to order, each pan set on the table is guaranteed to be absolutely exceptional.
Cafe Alezon always tries to find creative new additions to their menu (so always check the Off the Menu board). Their recurring Laing special comes around every now and then on their pizzas and paellas. Currently, they have a mushroom, bacon, and oysters in cream sauce pizza, which my boyfriend is crazy about. They also sometimes offer Aligue or Thai rice, and certain beverages like their herb-calamansi slush (in basil or cilantro). And with the opening of their bakery, they now also serve pandesal, and spanish bread with cream cheese filling.
Other than the bread, their desserts and post-meal bites include Nutella-walnut crepe, mango cheesecake, and turon ala mode. They sometimes offer cookie shots, or you can skip the cookie and pour a shot of Kahlua or Baileys into your coffee: they offer French pressed coffee, lattes, and even Turkish coffee with ginger.
Because of their continuous creative adventure in food, one would never lack a reason to love and keep loving this cafe-bistro-bakery. Just a right turn into Tropical Ave after driving through El Grande, Cafe Alezon has become the neighborhood hangout destination of those inside BF Homes who are steering clear of the busier Aguirre Avenue food scene. Every visitor to the south should make it a point to swing by the cafe. So many places can make up a gimmick, and such is the case of many restauranteurs in Manila. But what Cafe Alezon is, is genuine. It’s a true work of love, and it’s easily apparent that every detail and every dish is on the list of the owner’s personal favorites.
Some people go on all their lives for a chance to share with the world something they love. For the Alegres, this is it.