I’ve been going back and forth to the Eastern towns of Rizal a lot during weekend rides. During that time, I think I’ve tried all the main road trip restaurants in Rizal along Marilaque and Manila East Road Road. I can’t believe it took me this long to try Lutong Pugon, a garden restaurant owned by a local artist that serves delicious wood-fired pizza. You really wouldn’t expect to find a quality pizzeria like this up in the mountains.
Lutong Pugon is a very nice hidden restaurant right next to the home and studio of local artist Jun Tiongco in Tanay, Rizal. It’s near the intersection of Tanay and Sampaloc before you get to Camp Capinpin and Regina RICA. I actually spotted this place several times during rides through the backroads going to the Pililla Windmills, but I never stopped to check it out. I only wish I had visited sooner, because it’s a gem of a find.
From the backroads, the place looks very unassuming, but once you enter through the garden walkway, you get transported to this cozy restaurant with that artistic bohemian feel. There’s a main semi-enclosed dining area and a more refreshing spot at the back under this artistic dome like structure made with bamboo poles with a refreshing view of the gardens. Everything feels very earthy and organic. Even the restrooms have sinks made of wood. Paintings and sculptures of local artists from Rizal are displayed around the space.
Pugon refers to a traditional kiln or oven, and the restaurant serves wood-fired pizza, pasta, a few main dishes, fresh fruit juice and shakes. Their specialty is gourmet pizzas made with ingredients from Italy ranging in price from P575 (small) to P945 (large). Gourmet toppings include Pepperoni, Chorizo Iberico, Beef Pastrami, Beretta Salami, Gambaretto, Posciutto and Jamon Serrano. Main dishes include Lamb Chop, Platter Butter Prawns, Smoked Salmon, Roasted chicken, Pork Belly with tomato salsa and the like (mains range from P565 – P825).
Most restaurants along the Marilaque route just serve the usual budget-friendly silog meals or Pinoy favorites like bulalo and kare-kare which are staples for riders and road trippers on a budget. If you’re looking for a nice date spot with good ambiance or are traveling with the family or balikbayans who want a more secluded or artistic setting, Lutong Pugon offers a nice getaway plus quality gourmet food choices.
The cost of the food in Lutong Pugon is more expensive than other resto options on th route because of the quality of ingredients. Dining here actually feels like dining in Tagaytay, but it’s a good choice for special occasions.
Lutong Pugon also serves some affordable pizzas (P250 – P525) like pepperoni, margherita, bacon and mushroom and pasta dishes like Chili Prawns, Shrimp Chorizo, Spaghetti Marinara and Beefy Penne (P245 – P295).
They don’t scrimp on quality and quantity of ingredients. We ordered one small pizza and one pasta dish for two people and found the meal to be very filling. I was impressed with the quality of food and portion sizes.
If you’re dining in a large group, it’s better if you make reservations beforehand, as the place is quite small and service is very laid-back. Expect to wait a bit for your order to arrive.
You also get a chance to see the works of Jun Tiongco, one of the Philippines local painter in the small studio and art gallery near the main dining space. While waiting for your food, you can have your portrait sketched by resident artists for just P200/portrait. Most sessions just take 20 minutes.
The space has an enclosed parking area for just a few cars and vehicles. Overall, Lutong Pugon is an ideal restaurant in Rizal for dates and families who want to enjoy good food, nature and art in one homey spot. I’d definitely go back here with my family.