Words: Nathaniel Jay Photos: Monica Tindall
It was an exciting Sunday morning! I was getting dressed to go and meet the new chef at Vineria.IT at Bangsar Shopping Centre. A chef often leaves an imprint on a restaurant. This imprint usually lasts a long time and in some cases never disappears. A new chef is a compelling occasion. It is much like replacing the singer in your favorite rock band. Quite often it is a huge letdown and doesn’t live up to the memories.
New Chef, New Menu – Chef Alberto at Vineria IT, Italian Restaurant in BSC
But sometimes, a chef can find the balance of blending their personality and energy into the essence and the energy of the restaurant, allowing it to naturally grow and evolve into something better. This is most certainly the case with Chef Alberto.
I arrived early at Bangsar Shopping Center, half expecting to become lost. But, I easily found Vineria.IT, tucked away in the back corner of the ground floor, farthest from the main entrance.
From the outside, it looked rather small and quaint. The restaurant really opened up as we moved past the main foyer. The display kitchen is center stage in the middle of the restaurant. Behind glass walls, you could watch the brigade preparing meals.
We sat outside on the terrace, which was furnished with ceiling fans and an air conditioner. The view was of a quiet street and there were some palm trees and enough greenery to feel relaxed. I soon became very relaxed. The lazy Sunday vibe carried over into the whole experience. If you are not in a rush and you would like to chill out on a Sunday – then Vineria.IT at BSC is the place to be.
Chef Alberto came out to the table to welcome us. He is a quiet, soft-spoken man who obviously prefers his food to do the talking. Chef Alberto recently relocated from Brescia, in the Lombardy region of Northern Italy. He proudly informed us that his hometown is famous for pumpkins.
Chef introduced his new menu only one week prior to our visit. Chef Alberto has five handmade kinds of pasta on the menu. When I asked Chef Alberto how has he changed the menu, he answered with a smile, “It is more fresh, more work and more regional.” I tried to push further. “Chef,” I asked, “how is your food different compared to other Italian restaurants in Kuala Lumpur?” With a big smile, he answered, “I don’t know. I only care about this restaurant.” As I said previously, he is a man of few words.
Starter Menu Vineria IT
Chef Alberto offered to cook for us from the menu. The first course that was presented to us was, Carpaccio di Pulpo (RM38). Marinated and shaved octopus with fennel, orange and fava beans. The taste was briny, bright and rich with olive oil. The olive oil had an incredible depth of flavor and the octopus had a very pleasant texture.
The second starter, Carpaccio di Manzo (RM 39), was equally as delightful. Black Angus beef sliced paper thin and served raw. Lightly covered in extra virgin olive oil, rocket, fresh cracked black pepper and a parmesan crisp. Although the presentation was average, the dish was executed beautifully. The meat was served at just the right temperature, as to melt in your mouth. The extra virgin olive oil was of a high quality and I appreciated the large, coarsely grated black pepper pieces.
The last starter we enjoyed was simply called, Scamorza (RM35). Scamorza is a stretched curd cheese made from cow’s milk. It is similar to mozzarella and many chefs prefer Scamorza because it melts better when baked. Our dish was made with smoked Scamorza. It was a gratin with onion, oregano and Cecina ham. Cecina is a salt-cured and smoked beef leg from Spain. It is very similar in some ways to the Italian bresaola. However, bresaola is only salt cured. I can see why Chef Alberto chose to pair the Cecina with the scamorza: the result was a smoky, creamy gratin that went so well with focaccia bread.
Italian Craft Beer, Vineria IT
Vineria.IT carries several styles of beer from the Italian microbrewery, Birradamare (RM32++). We tried the Nabio Lager which is an organic beer with the addition of spelt grain and cane sugar. It is medium in body and refreshing. The hops are minimal, leaving the nose a bit weak. The spelt gives a hint of grassy notes in the flavor, providing a beer that is very unique. The other beer selected was the Damenipa. It is more inspired by the IPA style than it is brewed in the IPA style. Although it was floral and herbaceous, I was left with a positive bitterness in the finish. It is definitely a great transition beer for someone that is not familiar with a traditional IPA. The beer market in Kuala Lumpur is flooded with the same boring big name players. It was a delight to try something as uncommon as these Italian microbrews.
Soup and Pasta, Vineria IT
Going forward into the meal, we transitioned into the Zuppa di Cippolle. Onion soup with crunchy bread and parmesan cheese. Chef Alberto playfully said, “It is French style, but with personality.” The soup was slightly sweet from the caramelized onions and the chef layered in the texture. There were additional onions that were sautéed and left al dente, fried onions as a garnish on top of the soup and some spring onions to give a pinch of color.
The Paccheri Pasta (RM45), with cherry tomatoes, house made beef sausage, basil and Scamorza cheese was surprisingly light. The pasta was beautifully chewy and the sausage had the flavorful zing of black pepper.
Moving on to another one of Chef Alberto’s homemade pasta, Tortelli (RM69), duck served with goat cheese and mushroom sauce. This was elegantly plated – really stunning. The braised duck had a very hearty, “meaty” feel in my mouth. The duo of sauces played well with one another. The first was an aged goat’s cheese cream. The cheese was tangy and rather powerful, but a garnish of deep-fried sage leaves quickly soothed the flavor. The second sauce was the mushroom; it was an incredibly light and fresh jus lie. This was my second favorite dish of the day.
Main Menu Vineria IT
My favorite dish by far was Osso Bucco with Fried Polenta (RM78). One thing that is consistent throughout Chef Alberto’s cooking is his incredible ability to prepare sauces that are light, fresh and bright tasting. The Osso Bucco was perfectly fork tender. The tomato sauce was studded with brunoise carrots, removing all the acidity from the tomatoes, leaving behind a lightly sweet sauce. The fried polenta was a nice twist on what would otherwise be a classic preparation. The thing that made this dish come together so well was the brilliant garnish that topped the sauce: anchovy stuffed sage leaves that were delicately breaded and fried! The salt from the fish and the sage rounded out the sauce, giving it a bravado to stand up to the meat.
The Whole Sea Bass (RM69) was served with green sauce and lemons. It was lightly seasoned and moist.
Dessert Menu Vineria IT
The Creme Brûlée (RM30), was perfectly cooked. The texture was the best that I have experienced living in Kuala Lumpur. The menu said that it was flavored with thyme and licorice, but I felt I wanted more flavor. But even so, I would recommend this because the cooking technique was flawless.
The last dish of the day was Millefoglie (RM35). Chef’s modern interpretation of a classical recipe was the perfect way to end the meal. The cat’s tongue or “langues de chat” were stacked on top of pillows of pumpkin and mint mousse. Chocolate crumbs and a raspberry coulis tied all the ingredients together, creating a beautiful and memorable finale to a satisfying, lazy Sunday meal.
Reasons to visit Vineria IT in BSC: relaxed vibe with great patio seating; new chef new menu; attractively presented dishes; don’t miss the Tortelli, Osso Bucco Millefoglie; be sure to wash it all down with some Italian craft beer from Birradamare.
Vineria IT, Italian Restaurant
G133 Bangsar Shopping Centre
289 Jalan Maarof
59100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
+60 32 287 7889
Opening Hours Vineria IT:
Monday – Saturday: 9 am – 11:30 pm
Sunday: 9 am – 12 am