Throw a stone in Kuala Lumpur, and you will probably hit an Italian restaurant. Which begs the question.. why are Italian restaurants so popular in Malaysia?
In truth, it's not only in Malaysia, but Italian restaurants have actually become a mainstay in many countries' food scene. Despite the popularity Indian, Chinese and Japanese cuisines, countless number of people choose to pay a hefty price just to eat at an authentic Italian restaurant. Well, the good news is that eating at a good Italian restaurant need not cost you an arm and a leg.. if you know where to go, that is.
Here are our top three affordable Italian joints not far from our neighborhood.
1. Verona Trattoria @ Section 17 Petaling Jaya
beef bacon & pecorino cheese risotto
At first glance, Verona Trattoria seems like an odd match for the quiet neighbourhood of section 17. Located right next to Bistro a Table, as well, you would think it might feel a little daunted by the French fine-dining restaurant next door.
Verona Trattoria occupies a modestly spacious, airy space, with deep red comfy high back chairs and white washed push doors, that swing open to welcome the guests. With the doors closed, however, you will find that the small, practical menu, has a bare-bones, utilitarian feel, although almost everything is priced under RM40.. which is a good thing. For the wallet, at least. The first dish we sampled was a plate of hot, crispy Deep Fried Mozzarella Cheese Sticks. These were good - but then again, when is deep fried fat not good..?
A steamy bowl of Minestrone Soup made with chunky kidney beans and shreds of onion, carrots, potatoes, celery and penne pasta bits, arrived after that, and then a dish of Potato Gnocchi with Gorgonzola sauce that tasted pleasingly rich and decadent. I loved the soup (tasty, massive bowl for only RM10) but found the gnocchi rather stodgy. The gorgonzola was addictive and tasted fabulous though, so much so, I ended up eating the next dish (the pizza) with it. Dunking the pizza crust into the gorgonzola cream sauce was just so disgustingly good!
These were only precursors, however, to the more starchy, carbo-laden items to come, like the Spinach and Cheese Ravioli (perfectly al dente and drenched in a thick sauce of creamy cheese), the Risotto (containing beef bacon & pecorino cheese), and the occasional slice of pizza (from the Pizza Quattro Stagioni, because we are greedy and like having our cake and eating it). The spinach and cheese ravioli was pretty well done and the pizza's had a generous slathering of cheese, tomato and meaty ingredients. Hard to fault at these low and affordable prices!Add: Verona Trattoria, no.8 jalan 17/54 section 17, 46400 Petaling Jaya, Malaysia Tel: +603 7960 2890 Non-halal
2. Spasso Milano @ Pavilion Kuala Lumpur
Garoupa Orange - Pan-seared Sweet citrus orange flavor
We settle down to dinner at the spanking new Spasso Milano at Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, and as we chat and enjoy the wine, the waiter places in front of my plate, an almost lethally large portion of Risotto Alla Milanese served as the classic Risotto and dressed generously with a fragrant aroma of Saffron. I keep digging into the communal platter until, at last, there is nothing left to shovel. I knew, I was done for.
But if I was going to die, this was absolutely the way to go. I had already sampled Spasso Milano Pavilion KL's Scamorza Affumicata & Speck Pizza — I'm talking artisanal pizza with Smoked Scamorza Cheese and air-dried Ham whose craggy appearance belied juicy depths of flavours. Then there was the deliciously sharp tasting Citrus Orange Garoupa Pasta, whose fusilli pasta was thick and toothsome, and thoroughly soaked up the orange sauces and heightened its flavours. The resulting combination when eaten with the fresh and succulent Garoupa was terrific. After that would come more.. the Al Pesto with Prima Fileja, a Basil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Pine Nut, Parmesan & Pecorino pasta, toss into the warm, vegetal equivalent of a grandmother's hug. Also a larger than life, Pork Valdostana - Pork Escalope topped with baked Ham and Fontina Cheese which had the comfort of a warm kitchen stool on a cool summer night. If there was any doubt in our minds at all, it was as if Spasso Milano Pavilion KL was telling us that, it was back, and back with a vengeance. Yes indeed, one can never have too much good Italian. Like I've said before, I was going to die, this would absolutely be the way to go. I have long been a fan of Chef Felice's cooking and will continue to be, for a good while yet.Add: Spasso Milano, Level Six (took over the old Angus steak house), Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur. Tel: 03-2148-0688 Non-Halal
3. Favola @ Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur
Chef Antoine at the Pasta Station, Favola, Le Meridien KL
Why is the food at Favola so good? The most obvious reason is that they offer high quality meals with varied flavors at appropriate prizes. The Italian fare at Favola is composed of the freshest and healthiest spices and other ingredients which, when combined with excellent food-making procedures, create meals that have the most unique of tastes. This Italian fine dining place makes hand-rolled meatballs, a mouth-watering multi layered lasagna, and a unique Italian tiramisu for desserts-loving people.
Aside from that, Favola provides a wide variety of dishes that you can choose from. They have various sausages, different types and sizes of pizzas, as well as all the kinds of pasta that you can think of. If one type does not suit you, there are always other meals to choose from. If you want to be surprised, you can simply try a dish you've never had before and you will definitely be satisfied. Guests can enjoy their pick of antipasti from the Crudo Bar. Antoine Rodriguez is the Executive Chef, Le Méridien KL and he not only is a great chef, he has a great personality and a fantastic sense of humor as well. Every dish is like a work of art for him. The kitchen produces fabulous pastas and risottos, that are infused with various different vegetables, sea foods, spices and meats that one wouldn't even think of combining. The pizzas are always presented in a way that everyone finds irresistible and the chefs here prepare the food with great passion, therefore making every bite special!Add: Favola, Le Meridien KL, 2 Jalan Stesen Sentral, 50470 K.L. Tel - 603 2263 7888 Fax - 603 2263 7222 halal
The authors of this post are C&C and they also write for their website CCFoodTravel.com