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.