In the middle of the chaos of the Sucat interchange a few years ago I caught a glimpse of a motorcycle with “Di’ Mark’s” written on the carrier box. It meant only one thing. Excited by the possibility of getting the pizzas I hadn’t tasted in decades, I fought through the traffic to get a better look, and—It was Destiny!—I got the delivery phone number. I called immediately and found out that a small branch was opening along President’s Avenue. After that day, my wife and I ordered our dinner from there every couple of months, and on every occasion ended up telling each other, “Ang sarap talaga ng Di’ Mark’s.”
Two weeks ago the restaurant appeared to have closed. Someone else was answering the phone. I was inconsolable and racked with guilt. Had we failed to order often enough to support the business? Should we have ordered larger sizes? Why didn’t they tell us they were in trouble?
Where have all our old favorites gone? I remember going to Minggoy’s in Magallanes when it was a Magnolia ice cream shop that had Spanish food on the side. We enjoyed the tutong of their paella there long before I became pretentious enough to call it socarrat. At the Alabang branch we celebrated family milestones and ate there on ordinary Sundays as well, until it closed.
Then, there was Good Earth also at Magallanes. Lily on the Pond, seared tuna sashimi, hot and sour soup. Nanking beef. Popoy’s Delight! It went big time and moved to the Fort into an impressive space that was always full back when BGC was out of the way and still mostly empty. But it, too, faded away.
The old Di’Mark’s restaurant on Makati Avenue was one of those special places, not as casual or rowdy as, say, Tia Maria’s, and not as intimate as Moulin Rouge, impressive enough for a serious date, relaxed enough for family and friends. You could ply a young woman with wine and not break the bank. You could aspire to worldliness and order something exotic-sounding, supposedly from Europe by way of New York, like Croquettas or Bistecca alla Paulina. Or you could return to your probinsyano roots and go for good old Beef Tapa. Or you could go off on an adventure and get the greatest mash-up dish of all time, the messy, delicious Taco Pizza (Tip: Ask for the crust to be tostado.)
I brought up Di’ Mark’s in a Viber thread and quickly got these responses: Taco Pizza! (Of course.) D’yan kami unang nagdate 35 years ago at yan din ang aming inorder! (This from someone who doesn’t look a day over 40 in her husband’s eyes.) Try the cheese cake. The best & original. To die for. (From someone who has certainly had the opportunity to try cheese cakes all over the world.) Love ko rin Taco Pizza. Meron ba niyan sa QC . . .
I’m very well aware that restaurants, like the people who create them and the patrons who love them, are born, have lives and eventually pass away. They’re replaced by new places. Time marches on. The circle of life and all that. But, for the sake of our dying, deadened taste buds and our fading memories, some things are worth fighting for, right?
Last Sunday night my wife had a surprise for me. Earlier she had found the phone number presumably of the residence of someone who sounded like the owner of Di’ Mark’s. (This is what she does—make things happen while I sit around and mope.) The person she spoke with, whom we will call “Mark”, told her that, yes, they had closed the BF Parañaque branch but only because they were opening a new one at . . . wait for it . . . Molito in Alabang! So, when I got home from a depressing Sunday afternoon emergency meeting, waiting for me in the den were, not one, but two giant Di’ Mark’s pizzas, a Taco Pizza AND a Mad Scramble.
We’re doing our part to keep Di’ Mark’s Molito open. We hope you will, too.
[My wife paid for our pizza. “Mark” did not give me anything to write this piece, but I’d like you to know that there are other Di’ Mark’s branches on Shaw Boulevard, Taft Avenue and U.N. Avenue.]