Ciccio, Italian Restaurant, Kuala Lumpur - The Yum List
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Ciccio, Italian Restaurant, Kuala Lumpur
Words: Patricia Podorsek Photos: Monica Tindall
Open for more than twelve years, Ciccio is a restaurant whose flavors and service have stood the test of time. Seated in the heart of Changkat, among the flux and flow of ever-changing businesses, this sister restaurant to Ciao continues to offer regulars and party-goers a steady supply of rustic Italian food with an easy-going approach to hospitality.
Ciccio, Italian Restaurant
Located in a converted shophouse, the exposed brick and earthy tones are warmed by wood and candlelight. Accents like fountain lions spitting streams, paintings of Venus, and cracked glass chandeliers add a bit of Italian charm and panache.
Wood Fired Oven and Chefs
Our hosts, Ettore and Grace, wanted to share all their favorites with us. We began with a glass of prosecco, Le Contesse DOC extra day, whose luscious bubbles washed away all stress and grit of a day at work. We also sampled a Campari spritz, same bubbles made a little salty and a little bitter with the addition of Campari and olives. Very refreshing.
Bartender Preparing Some Italian Aperitifs
Wines are in no short supply at Ciccio. An extensive list brings the grapevine tour of Italy, Chile, Australia, and California right to our home in Malaysia. On the white side, we tried the 2013 Le Rime Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio blend from Tuscany, and found it light and crisp, just a little sweet with fruity overtones. We also sampled the 2014 Chateau Los Boldos, a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, drier than the Le Rime, with hints of grapefruit. Both were excellent accompaniments to the antipasto courses and available by the glass. On the red side, we enjoyed the fruity bouquet and smooth tannins of the Col di Sasso Sangiovese-Cabernet blend. If the house wines are any indication of the depth of the menu, wine-lovers of every taste and budget should have no trouble finding drinkable wines at Ciccio.
Italian Sangiovese Cabernet Sauvignon
Los Boldos Cabernet Sauvignon
Le Rime Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio
Los Boldos Sauvignon Blanc
For those just stopping in for a cocktail like the complex and meditative Negroni, several bitings can accompany. There is something for everyone on the Affettato Misto (RM42), a selection of imported Italian cold cuts including prosciutto and salami surrounded by olives, pickles and cocktail onions. Grace recommended the deep-fried cheese balls. The succulent mix of scamorza, pecorino and Parmesan provided a super creamy interior with a crispy exterior: these are nothing like the fried cheese sticks found at your neighborhood sports bar. Little did I realize that our relationship with creamy cheeses was only just beginning.
Buratta is a silky cloud of fresh mozzarella imported from Puglia, served with tomatoes, rocket, and olive oil. Now, it’s not uncommon for Italian restaurants to boast a caprese salad with similar ingredients, but few can compare with the near-liquid consistency of this cheese that borders mascarpone in texture and sweetness.
We enjoyed a few more appetizers, including the thin-sliced Carpaccio Classico (RM30), which offered a lighter alternative to the salty cold cut platter, especially served with lemon, salad and a few slices of pecorino. The pork meatballs off the Bitings menu became a fast favorite, served with homemade tomato sauce and bread baked daily in Ciccio’s ovens. Because freshness is so important to Ciccio, nearly everything is made in house…
…including many of the pastas. Some are brought in dried and served with a range of seafood and meat sauces, but the fettuccine and stuffed pastas are made right in Ciccio’s kitchen. I loved the simplicity of the Ravioli Spinaci e Ricotta (RM38), served humbly with a butter sauce that featured lots of fresh sage. Monica nearly floated away on the little pillows of soft gnocchi served decadently with a gorgonzola cream sauce, Gnocchi al Gorgonzola (RM36). Remember how I said our relationship with creamy cheeses just kept developing? Now you see what I mean.
Ravioli Spinaci e Ricotta
Gnocchi al Gorgonzola
It was a good thing I brought along my second stomach, because despite the amount of food already savored, our hosts still had their favorite mains to share.
The Grigliata Mista (RM62) has been a long-standing pillar of Ciccio’s menu and stars a collection of king prawns, sea bass, and calamari, grilled with a little olive oil, lemon and herbs. With such a simple accoutrement, the flavors of the seafood become the feature, rather than the additions. All are brought in daily and the freshness is palpable.The squid, in particular, was mild-tasting, perfectly cooked and very tender.
The Manzo ai Funghi (RM88) combines grilled Australian beef tenderloin with Porcini mushroom sauce and truffle oil. The mushroom flavors blend seamlessly with the tenderness of the meat in a sauce that is rich without being overbearing.
Manzo ai Funghi
The Porchetto al Forno (RM58) slow roasts pork belly and adds a silky thyme sauce over the top. But what was really over the top were the roasted potatoes served with both the beef and the pork. We spent several minutes trying to discern the cooking methods and came up with nothing more than kitchen magic! Sweet and soft on the inside, with a crisp exterior, and lightly seasoned, they sure put a spell over us!
Porchetta al Forno
No Italian restaurant is complete without pizza and Ciccio provides over twenty varieties from their wood-fired oven. We sampled the Prosciutto e Funghi (RM40), a thin crust topped with cotto ham, tomato, mozzarella, and fresh mushrooms, and like everything we tried, the effect was fresh, authentic and very Italian.
Prosciutto e Funghi
To satisfy our sweet tooth, we found three desserts, again homemade. The first was an orange-scented Creme Brulee: a smooth and creamy interior perfectly sealed with a crunchy sugar crust. Next, true to its name, the Molten Chocolate Cake erupted into a dark cascade of luscious cocoa. And finally, my personal favorite, the Tiramisu: sprinkled cocoa and a thick spread of whipped cream atop espresso-soaked ladyfingers. The texture was moist without being soggy, and was not overly sweetened so the flavors of each layer could shine through. Delicious.
Chocolate Lava Cake
Fit to bust after all this amazing food, we practically had to be rolled out of the restaurant by the end of the evening. Italian food lovers, take note: Beautiful and generous hospitality await you at this tried-and-true Changkat gem!
The non-halal Ciccio is open weekdays from 5:00pm to 1:00am, and weekends 5:00 pm to 2:00am, with the kitchen closing an hour or two earlier, depending on the day. They offer Happy Hour specials daily from 5:00 to 8:00pm, with a special Prosecco Bar on Thursdays for RM25 where they serve up different bubbly cocktails. Partiers will find late-night pizza specials to cure the bar-hopping hunger. A pie right from the oven will only set you back RM28++ after 10:30pm.
Reasons to visit: Twelve years of tried-and-true authentic rustic Italian food. Don’t miss the homemade pastas, the selection of meat and cheese antipastos, and the pizzas. And definitely save room for dessert.