"All I can say is magnifico!"
Pizza Brava is an Italian restaurant owned by a group of friends that specializes in pasta and wood-fire pizza. They have other stuff on their menu, like a selection of starters, meat and seafood entrees and desserts, but the focus is definitely on the quintessential Italian pastas and wood fire oven pizzas; An entire side of their double-sided, A3 sized menu is dedicated to pizza and pasta.
As one could guess from the tagline beneath the restaurant name, the restaurant is proud in having a wood fire oven, a relative rarity for local pizzerias. Their pizzas cook in next to no time using this oven.
The restaurant is brightly lit and very minimalist in décor and design. Jars of anchovies and tomato sauce, cans of olive and olive oil as well as Pellegrino bottles adorn the racks and shelves. At the front of the restaurant is their pizza area, and at the back is their open pasta kitchen. The restaurant seats about 30-40 people maximum, attended by staff dressed in black. I went with a friend to sample their offerings.
We settled on simple tomato Bruschetta (RM8.90) to start with. The Bruschetta were surprisingly large slices of toasted bread, about half a dozen to plate. The chopped tomato topping was zesty with lemon, garlic and parsley, although it could do with a bit more salt and pepper. More »
"We were oohing and aahing in pleasure"
Restaurateur Beppe de Vito brought the Il Lido brand here in the hopes of changing Malaysia’s fine dining scene. With over 15 years of experience in the fine dining scene in Hong Kong and Singapore he is surely qualified to give the fine dining market here a push.
The sleek and trendy restaurant here certainly does impress. Interiors are in hues of grey, gold, black and chrome and the dim lighting with downlights strategically placed above each table elevate the experience. This is certainly the spot to choose if you’re looking to enjoy a romantic dinner, a quiet family meal, or engage in a business talk over pasta and wine.
We started off our dinner with the pan-fried goose liver as well as a rucola salad with Pecorino cheese, walnuts and pear. The goose liver here is silky smooth and seared just right. Pears, nuts, and cheese are an amazing match and you can hardly go wrong with it. We were a bit disappointed though to find that they skimped a bit on the Pecorino, which is the best part. All in all, lovely appetizers that got our mouths watering for more.
Next we moved on to the pasta course where we shared a linguine with jumbo prawns and spicy pork sausage, a pumpkin tortelli with sage, and a champagne risotto with shaved truffle. The spicy heat is much appreciated in the linguine dish, it cuts the richness of the prawn and amps up the flavour. The pumpkin filled tortelli is pure genius, the chunky sweet filling pairs well with the tangy drizzle of aged balsamic. The one that tops my list however, is the risotto. This one screams pure fatty indulgence. It is rich with the pungent shaved truffle giving it a wonderful muskiness. A total orgasm in the mouth! More »
"Golden fried morsels packed with flavour"
This is the sort of spot to enjoy a hearty Italian dinner and on Friday and Saturday nights there are all sorts of Jazz acts that take the stage for the guest’s entertainment. The quirky arty décor coupled with the cement floors and music theme makes this a swanky cool place to hang out.
The menus are printed on old records and a presented in record sleeves, and the tablemat is a retro photo of a turntable. This is done tastefully without looking like a cheesy theme restaurant and the whole ambience has a whole New York jazz lounge feel to it.
The pastas here are made fresh every other day and I was excited to try them out. To start off with we sampled the deep fried prawn balls. These golden fried morsels are packed with flavour with tiny bits of zucchini and carrot strewn throughout. This can also be ordered as a soufflé if you don’t want a fried starter.
"Creamy, pungent and extremely satisfying"
Psst…over here…I have a little secret to tell you…there’s a new Italian kid on the block serving up hearty delicious food. If you ask me, the bread alone is a reason to go. Crusty freshly baked loaves are served up with interesting dips such as creamy potato with truffles, anchovy and tomato, and basil cream cheese. I knew I had a lot to sample but that could not stop me from slathering slice after slice with these mouthwatering spreads.
The food here is meant to encourage family style eating. Order a few dishes for everyone to tuck into. The creamy buffalo mozzarella with tomatoes is divine and the mussels stuffed with chicken is an unusual treat. Favola has put a lot of emphasis on their starters as they’re starting up a lunch crudo bar where for just RM39 you can have all the bread and appetizers you want. This is certainly value for money. Don’t just go for the starters though because there is a whole lot more to enjoy!
What is an Italian place without pasta? Here you can order traditional pastas that might not be as common including one that is baked in a parcel and served up for you to unwrap. If you enjoy ravioli I would recommend the one stuffed with cheese and mushrooms. It is creamy, pungent and extremely satisfying. I love the pasta here as it is cooked perfectly al dente with a nice bite to it. The rich robust sauces are simply a nice bonus.
"It's almost a shame to destroy this"
Our evening started off at the bar area where we sipped on wine and nibbled on an assortment of bruschetta topped with creamy mushrooms, olive tapenade, and chopped tomatoes with basil. My favourite without a doubt is the olive tapenade made with finely minced tangy kalamata olives and just a hint of garlic. The creamy mushrooms have a mild buttery creaminess to it but they lack strong flavours which I am partial to.
They have a great selection of mouth watering appetizers and we have trouble narrowing it down to just a few choices. For cold starters we decide to go with the prosciutto and melon (a must in traditional Italian cuisine) as well as the buffalo mozzarella salad. The sweet ripe cantaloupe paired with the saltiness of the thin slice of prosciutto was just heavenly! There’s something about that sweet salty taste that gets me every time. I also thoroughly enjoyed the rich fresh creamy slices of buffalo mozzarella with juicy tomato. For the warm appetizers we chose beef carpaccio the pan seared scallops wrapped in bacon. The thinly sliced beef is tender and delicious with a light hint of lemon and olive oil and the scallops were extremely flavourful with within crisp salty pork bacon wrap.
A specialty dish here is the spaghetti aglio olio with fresh seafood (mussels, prawns, and squid). It is served wrapped up in a paper which you undo once it reaches your table. The reason they do this is to seal in the aroma which is meant to hit you just as you open it up. When you do you are hit with the unmistakable scent of truffle oil, garlic, and oceany seafood. Take a deep whiff before you tuck in as this adds to the experience. There is also a little something special added for the Malaysian palate and we discovered this once we took a bite; sliced chilli padi has been added into the mix giving it a mild spicy hit. This dish alone gives me a reason to return!
"Eat at the Godfather's table"
“Let's check out Il Padrino tonight,” says a friend to me over Twitter one day. In my head, I honestly thought she was referring to another viewing of “The Godfather”. What else could it be? I must have been out of the foodie loop because apparently, Il Padrino is the new Italian restaurant on everyone's lips; it is owned by the same people who run Deutsches Haus, Gaucho Grill, Bavarian Bierhaus and Maredo's Steakhouse.
And guess what – it's not located in Changkat Bukit Bintang. Thank God, I was beginning to think that all of the Klang Valley's best Italian joints resided in that one neighbourhood. Yet another hurrah – no crazy traffic to deal with, and no rounding the area several times for a parking spot. On a Friday night, it's a blessing worth writing home (or in these days, blogging/tweeting) about.
As mentioned earlier, this restaurant is obviously inspired by the legendary '70s film. Their paper placemats bear the infamous quote, “We will make you an offer you can't refuse” and adorning their walls are black and white posters of Marlon Brando. Thankfully, the influences end there for service was not intimidating but rather, the waiters were attentive and really eager to help. My company liked the ambience too. It was classy and contemporary but we didn't feel the need to whisper our conversation or stifle a loud guffaw. We were comfortable immediately, and that definitely made our dining experience a lot more memorable!
We've heard that the salmon bruschetta is a pretty good appetizer but since they serve complimentary breads (with the obligatory olive oil + vinegar dip), we decided to pair it instead with their affettato misto. Not a decision we regret at all. Come on … a platter of cold cuts like parma ham, mortadella, salamI, coppa and speck? This is classic comfort food and not much can go wrong. The hams were sliced so delicately that they were almost translucent. I read on a blog that the bread they were served with was stale, but it was the complete opposite for us. They were fresh, warm and toasty. Mind you, it was close to 10pm when we dined.
"A great cuppa is always a good thing...."
I thought that Espressemente Illy was an experimentation by Illy to open a boutique café in KL as I have never seen any in my travels. However, they have over 140 franchises globally, including one in Pavillion a year back and another one in Bangsar Two, opened a couple of months ago. Although the company is family run, its global business now brings in more than half the revenue. It was less than 20% ten years ago.
Another fact worth noting was that it was Francesco Illy who invented the espresso, the steam driven coffee maker to replace the traditional Italian moca pots. If you think that Illy sells only coffee beans, there you go! Yet another fact is that unlike other coffee franchises that sells beans of all sorts such as Kenyan, Columbian and Blue Mountain, Illy’s coffee is actually a blend of 9 different coffee beans. Only the roasting method is different. So, there’s only Dark Roast, Medium Roast and Decaffeinated. You can actually buy the nitrogen packed grounded coffee beans at their cafes. More »