Wednesday, February 07, 2007

AN ITALIAN SOJOURN


Bacco's cosy & intimate setting

Elegant Italian decor by Datin Burna Mirri

Italian carnival favourite, Frappe

Bewitching Fish Dish

Something to stew over!

Omelette with a difference

Less is more with these Mini Pizzas

Light yet tasty Mozzarella Sandwich

Antipasti to kick start dinner

For those in the know, Jalan Yap Kwan Seng is a food haven in its own right. The entire stretch of road boasts of Nyonya, Japanese, European, Indian, Chinese steamboat and Penang nasi kandar outlets so diners are truly spoilt for choice. However, few are aware of a splendid Italian restaurant tucked away in one of the quieter lanes known as Jalan Liew Weng Chee.

Named after the Italian god of wine, Bacco, this understated restaurant is owned by architect Datuk Luciano Mirri and his interior designer wife, Burna who have made Malaysia their home for the last 22 years. Their eatery prides itself on serving rustic home-style Italian dishes that are rarely found elsewhere.

The inimitable style and creative handiwork of Datin Burna Mirri are evident in the hand-sewn table cloths and curtains, and sponge-painted walls within Bacco. Oriental and European antiques, paintings and furniture further enhanced the classic, homely ambience.

Chef Michele Dal Cero from Verona, Italy displays an uncanny flair for staying true to his Italian roots despite this being his first stint in the Far East and having to be mindful of local dietary sensitivities. Antipasti (appetizers) is a must here to start off your meal. We enjoyed sliced marinated mushroom, pickled red cabbage, zucchini, red and green peppers, a creamy tuna spread, olives and sun-dried tomatoes with the two types of breads – onion and truffle and another flavoured with chopped olives.

Italy’s simple, provincial-style cooking is best reflected in Frittata Ai Funghi Con Patate Alla Bacco or Bacco-style Mushroom Omelette with Potatoes. Special mention must be made of the accompanying sauce of boiled egg yolk blended with anchovies, extra virgin olive oil, thyme, lemon juice and salt.

Chef Dal Cero gets back to basics with his Mini Pizzas with a single ingredient to top each miniature dough disc – chopped tomato, olives or grated cheese. It is a great way to savour the pizza’s delightfully light texture and unadulterated flavour of each topping.

The Involtino Di Sogliola Con Salmone (Witch Fillet Roll with Salmon Garnished with Smoked Salmon) is as bewitching as its name. It is hard to fault this dish of baked sole fillet rolled and stuffed with fresh salmon and chopped romaine lettuce, complemented by a dainty roll of smoked salmon. The composition of subtle nuances and myriad textures proved the chef’s consummate skills.

A scrumptious creation served with a distinctive anchovy-caper sauce, the delicious pan-fried Mozzarella la Carrozza mini sandwich would captivate any discerning cheese lovers. Lightly covered in egg batter, it oozed with melted, piquant cheese in the centre.

La Padella Del Pescatore made us felt as if we were dining at an Italian friend’s villa in the Roman countryside. A hearty stew of fish, prawns, squid and mussels, the ingredients are first sautéed in extra virgin olive oil and cooked with chopped fresh tomatoes, garlic, white wine, chili, fresh herbs and black pepper. The deliciously sweet broth, tinged with the faintest hint of tanginess, is best enjoyed with crusty sliced baguette.

A traditional carnival fried pastry known as Frappe gave us another rare glimpse into Italy. Also known as Cenci in Tuscany, Chiacchiere in Lombardy, Crostoli in Venice and Bugie in Genoa, the rectangular paper-thin, deep-fried pastry are served with a dusting of icing sugar. At Bacco, this delightful creation comes with ice-cream and a little warmer of melted chocolate which you can drizzle onto the crispy pastry. The perennial favourite, tiramisu, is also available although this being an alcohol-free version, it may be a tad tame for those who used to the original recipe.

Thanks to Bacco’s niche set-up, service is cordial and impeccable. Bigger groups of eight persons or more should ideally notify outlet manager, Ahmad Radhi Abdul Shukor ahead of time so that the team is prepared to cope with service delivery and food quality.

Datuk Mirri explained, “Good food takes time to prepare. Ample notice is necessary for our kitchen team to plan and work their magic. For our best dishes, the ingredients need to be freshly sourced and everything made from scratch. Some specialities need more than four hours of preparation to a full day’s work. Advance reservations minimize the customers’ waiting time in between courses and this maximizes their dining experience with us. So it’s a win-win situation for both.”

For those yearning for an Italian gastronomic sojourn, Bacco is well worth the trip.

BACCO (pork free)
5 Jalan Liew Weng Chee
Off Jalan Yap Kwan Seng
Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 21711190

Business hours – Lunch Monday to Friday 12 noon to 2.30 pm
Dinner Monday to Saturday 7.00 pm to 10.30 pm
Closed on Sundays

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