Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Italian Tomato

Replacing Gaja on Jalan Maarof, Italian Tomato might look like a lackluster eatery _ despite its memorable name _ but the hits outnumber the misses on its wide-ranging menu.

Fonduta (RM24++). The Italian equivalent of Swiss cheese fondue, but made of Fontina cow's milk cheese whipped with egg yolk, milk & butter. Its flavor is mushroomy though muted; the true pleasure of this broth lies in its lascivious texture _ creamy but somehow almost frothy.

Chicken liver pate (RM16++) with a double-whammy of garlic _ raw cloves sticking out of the meat paste & infused into crostini on the side. A thick, rustic-tasting spread, worthy of praise.

Potato gnocchi & prawns sauteed in herb butter (RM22++ for a starter-sized portion). A textbook recipe, simple but satisfyingly done. The dumplings were neither stodgy nor mushy.

Wood-fired roasted beef ribs in red wine reduction (RM40++). Yep, Italian Tomato boasts a wood-fire oven, utilizing it to prepare everything from pizzas to pumpkin soup & lamb shank. This epic slab of meat is meant for priapic appetites _ rip into it, chew loudly & grunt.

Itching for more Italian? Only a 15-minute drive away, there's Verona Trattoria at Section 17.
Earlier entry on Verona Trattoria: December 29, 2011.

Snack attack: Deep-fried mushrooms _ not magic ones but surprisingly plump, especially considering they're of the button variety. Crisp on the outside, oozing with earthy juices within.

Minestrone, bristling with kidney beans, onions, celery, carrots, tomatoes & chopped penne. This soup might come out of the kitchen super-fast, scarcely five minutes after the order is placed. But it'll likely taste reassuringly fresh & homemade.

Deep-fried mozzarella cheese. A safe prediction: customers who start munching on this gooey goodness won't be able to stop till every piece is gobbled up.

Desserts, however, are a disappointment at Verona Trattoria: the zabaione _ a custard made with eggs & marsala wine _ is way too watery here, topped unhelpfully with blueberry gelato. The traditional tiramisu is supposed to contain marsala too, but tastes bereft of booze.

Wine isn't available so far at Verona Trattoria, but since there's no corkage charge for now, customers can buy a few bottles nearby at Cold Storage in Jaya One & bring them over.

There's lots of liquor though at Italian Tomato; the Sangria & Caipirinha are intriguingly executed _ blended & served in wine glasses. Alas, the Sangria is sickly sweet, blighted by a concentrated mango puree that overpowers everything else.

Wine is the less risky option at Italian Tomato. Service is briskly professional but impersonal.



Italian Tomato @ Bangsar,
61, Jalan Maarof, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur.

Verona Trattoria @ Section 17 PJ,
Jalan 17/54, Petaling Jaya.
Tel: 03-7960-2890
Check out EAT DRINK, a new F&B website jointly run by The Expat Group (TEG) & Eat Drink KL. This website features all of our up-to-date reviews, plus exclusive weekly articles & a searchable database on restaurants in KL & Selangor: EatDrink.my

39 comments:

  1. Isn't Italian Tomato the name of a popular chain in Japan and has once opened a branch in the Old (now new) Wing of 1 Utama once upon a time?

    Anyway, happy new year and here's to another fantastic year marked by more new places to eat in KL. Hopefully more good than bad. And may the good ones from previous years stay too :)

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  2. Qwazymonkey: oooh, I don't think this one is related to that Italian Tomato, since the food & concept here seem pretty different. but hmmm, suspicious use of the same name, heh =) thanks, here's wishing you a 2012 that's as cheerful and colorful as your comic strips! :D

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  3. Oh... I thought I could be the first -__-' hehe

    Buongiorno, señor! Può mangiare! Heh

    Oh I like the photo second to last. Looks interesting

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  4. Ohhh how I love italian trattorias :p

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  5. Italian tomato looks pretty promising from this post!

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  6. I loved the wood fire... but our clothes smelled like charcoal when we got home after lunch. Eeks! :P

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  7. Hahaha, yes, smelled like charcoal, I think next time we should sit outside. :P

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  8. Which would you rate higher - Italian Tomato or Verona Trattoria?

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  9. Ooh def not like that Japanese Italian Tomato chain at all! Only those guys could get away with a name that unimaginative! Happy 2012, hope it's off to a grand start!

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  10. Rad: wow, you're multilingual! first japanese, now italian! i'm so ashamed i can only speak three languages (and only two semi-fluently) :D oh, that photo is of the wood-fire oven, where the pizzas are made! =)
    Augustdiners: ya, there's such a special charm about informal italian eateries and the food they serve! :D
    Michelle: it's not bad. not as good as places like il lido, garibaldi or favola, but it's a more affordable option :D

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  11. Kenny: eeks, i didn't realize that. i didn't smell anything on my clothes. maybe it was the lethal combo of charcoal & the cheese on the pizzas that did it! =)
    CK: oops! i wonder if the service team at garibaldi noticed that we smelled strange after that! :D

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  12. Baby Sumo: ohhh, Italian Tomato's menu is more interesting & has more choices, so Italian Tomato for sure! =)
    Min: my memories of that Italian Tomato chain are so hazy now! but yeah, i'm optimistic that 2012 will be a year worth living! :D

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  13. The service staff at Garibaldi would probably have been far too polite to comment on our smoky flavour.

    The maître d was kinda cute, the way he'd shave extra bits of black truffle... You must have made him nervous or something. :P

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  14. Oh hahaha it's really because I studied linguistics in my uni :p

    Yes, that photo looks like its divided by three layers :p like a burger hehe

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  15. I love gnocchi. It's usually smothered is some type of cheese and cream sauce though. I like the look of the gnocchi with the prawns.

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  16. owh.. it's not easy to find good Italian food in Malaysia... Thanks for recommending. Fonduta looks captivating!

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  17. Kenny: or maybe he sniffed us out and realized that we're truffle lovers! i almost wish i could have grabbed that whole truffle & munched on it without having it shaved :D
    Rad: oh, that's a cool course to study. might have a lot of real-world application :D oops, i didn't notice that about the photo. with my camera, i just point, shoot and run away quickly =)

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  18. The Yum List: yeah, i like my gnocchi usually in a creamy gravy, but it's nice to have a 'clean' one for a change! :D
    WyYv: bangsar is actually an area with good italian restaurants, including garibaldi at bangsar village and opus bistro at jalan bangkung. hope you manage to have a good italian meal soon =)

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  19. The restaurant name reminds me of "Hot Tomato" in SG (it's a casual cafe franchise/chain-style joint) ... that ... isn't really that great, ha ha.

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  20. Hahaha lol at you running away quickly! Heheheh I'm imagining you really ran away quickly as if you didn't wanna pay :p :p

    Hehe funny

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  21. Timing: wah, someone could combine both names and make it "Hot Italian Tomato" :D
    Rad: heh, unfortunately that would be awful for my reputation! =)

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  22. Looks like I need to head over to Italian Tomato soon! The ribs would make a good meal. :)

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  23. I knew it! A meal wouldn't be complete for Sean without wine :P Glad that Cold Storage is nearby eh? Hehe... the potato gnocchi at Italian Tomato looks good!! At least it didn't look soggy.. :)

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  24. Rad: nice laugh =)
    Bangsar-babe: yeah, the ribs are massive! two can probably share the plate :D
    Iamthewitch: thank goodness for cold storage! and yeah, italian food is never complete without at least a glass of red or white, heh =)

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  25. Hmmm the gnocchi you had looked better than what I had. I should try the one you had.

    I must admit the sangria was a wee sweet but I loved the blended idea.

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  26. Missyblurkit: heheh, maybe i should have asked them to add some more water to the sangria! :D

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  27. Fonduta so cute sounding.. i'd eat it just coz it sounds so nice:P

    There you go again.. confusing me with ur mergers:P

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  28. Ciki: heheh, i wonder if there's a cool italian way of pronouncing fonduta! :D mergers are the new trend of 2012 =)

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  29. Add more ice. Water seems to take away the blended texture.

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  30. Ah. Would love to have taken a pic of you chomping on a whole truffle. So decadent. Could be your new Eat Drink KL profile pic. :D

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  31. Missyblurkit: heheh, thanks for the tip! i actually didn't realize that!
    Kenny: or even better, my new facebook profile pic (i need one!) :D

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  32. Oh! I wish I knew your Facebook! :)

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  33. I've spotted this outlet and was wondering when it was opened? Looks like another new Italian place to try.

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  34. Rad: ah, that's easy. just look for "sean yoong" or seanyoong :D
    Eiling: oh yeah, i think it opened sometime last month! =)

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  35. Try Italian tomato.. their food quite ok d..

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  36. Nikel: glad you enjoyed it! =)

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  37. Is this restaurant Halal ?

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  38. Satya: it's pork-free =)

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