Florentine La Bisteccheria X Crema Pasticceria Moderna – The Row, Chow Kit, KL
Words: Jacob Weber
Photos: Rich Callahan
“Jacob, how about a review on Tuesday?”
“Sorry, Mon, I’m only back to KL late Sunday night after four months away.”
“It’s a modern Italian bakery and grillhouse, specialising in authentic pastries and quality meat.”
“… What time?”
Crema Pasticceria Moderna and Florentine La Bisteccheria occupy a double space on The Row along Jalan Doraisamy in downtown KL. It’s by the same good folk behind Osteria Gamberoni, whose pastry counter was so popular that they thought it deserved more room to grow.
And because the only space available along this trendy avenue was rather bigger than they needed for traditional Italian sweet treats, they decided to throw in a Tuscan-style steakhouse as well. Now, that’s an initiative we can get behind.
We’re here to check out both menus and flip the script by starting with the sweet stuff. Giuseppe, the pastry chef from just outside Napoli who has moved to Malaysia, especially for this new project, has decades of baking experience, which shows in every delicious bite. In fact, you can tell these are the real deal just by looking at them, all perfectly crafted and glistening temptingly beneath the glass counter.
Crema Pasticceria Moderna – Italian Bakery KL
Giuseppe’s approach balances classic and modern recipes; traditional treats with a contemporary touch. The old-school recipes are a bit heavy, so Giuseppe’s creations are a little lighter and creamier, with slightly different textures. He might be tweaking the recipe, but he’s still playing by the rules – these are some of the most authentic (and tasty) Italian pastries you’ll find in KL.
We start with a selection of pasticcini (small pastries) and crostatine (tarts). We’re almost reluctant to disturb the platter at first – it feels like we’re destroying a work of art – but after the first forkful, it’s practically a fight to the finish.
We’re all pretending to be polite – “Oh, you must try this one”, “please, you’ll love that” – but really, deep down, we’re desperately trying to preserve our own portions. These are too good to share.
The Maritozzi (RM10), an Italian citrus brioche with vanilla Chantilly cream, is equal parts luscious and light, with a faint tangy touch. The Bigne al Pistacchio (RM10) – a cream puff with pistachio cream filling – raises our collective eyebrows in delight. Rich declares the Cannoli (RM10) as one of the best he’s ever had – it might have something to do with the silky smooth ricotta cream, pistachio crumble, and chocolate Valrhona pearls. The Sachertorte (RM10) is not of Italian origin but no less indulgent: rich, creamy dark chocolate sponge and glaze, lifted beautifully by layers of sweet apricot jam. A personal favourite.
The Crostatine (RM8-10) get the same treatment: demolished. There’s plenty of variety, and the selection will probably change by the time you visit, but take my word for it; it’s all delicious. The salted caramel and coffee tart offers up that beautiful balance between salty and sweet with a hint of pleasant bitterness; the mango and coconut, Giuseppe’s homage to the region, is an interesting tropical touch. The blueberry and white chocolate is smooth and luxurious; the pistachio strawberry is equally delightful. Rich’s favourite is the tiramisu – a chocolate tart with mascarpone mousse and Lavazza coffee cremeux – and who are we to argue?
If somehow you can avoid the temptation of the torta and fancy something savoury, Crema also has a light lunch menu of traditional Italian fare, including salad, parmigiana, ciabattas, and tramezzino – the Italian for ‘triangle sandwiches’ – how adorable is that? The Panino Bresaola (RM26) – a ciabatta, beef bresaola, tomato, wild rocket & shaved parmesan – goes down a treat.
Florentine La Bisteccheria – Italian Steakhouse KL
Time for the main course(s). It’s Chef Daniele and Restaurant Manager Simona’s turn to take us through the menu at Florentine, the other side of this open space (divided in the middle by a sit-up bar), which has been subtly but surely decorated in the Tuscan style, right down to the terracotta tiles.
Simona tells us the concept is all about sharing, with lots of generous dishes meant for the middle of the table for all to dig into – very Italian. There’s not as much pasta as you might expect, but they do have a specialty outlet at Osteria Gamberoni, after all, just around the corner. Instead, meat is the main attraction, and how attractive it is, with quality cuts directly flown in from all over the world.
A couple of carafes (RM48 250ml; RM88 500ml) of house red and white – wine isn’t served by the glass here, which we think is a nice touch – and we’re off.
For starters, the Pannacotta al Foie Gras e Fichi (foie gras panna cotta, fig concasse and pomegranate) (RM88) is an interesting Italian interpretation of this French delicacy. Honestly, it’s not generally a personal favourite of mine, but I can still tell this is quality stuff.
The Vitello Tonnato (RM78) is a very elegant antipasto; cold, sliced veal of creamy sauce delicately flavoured with tuna. We also try a vegetarian option from the carpaccio selection: the Carpaccio di Barbabietola (RM36), a delicious beetroot version with succulent sundried tomatoes still clinging to the vine.
The Polpettone con Salsa al Tartufo (RM68) is probably the fanciest meatloaf you’ll ever see (and if it’s not, I’d love to know where you had better). Amazing medium-rare Italian beef, spinach, mozzarella and egg, proudly sitting on a truffle-based sauce. Fancy.
Time for the meat-based main events. The Classico Burger (RM48) is one of the better burgers I’ve had in a while, taking the essential ingredients and elevating them so very well. The bun is made in-house, the patty is perfectly cooked medium-rare Australian Black Angus beef, and the salad is fresh and crispy. Full marks.
The Halloumi Burger (RM48) is by no means a lesser alternative if you’re of a vegetarian persuasion. A thick, generous slice of halloumi goes well with artichoke paste, baby spinach and cheddar cheese.
But really, these are the supporting acts. The superstar is the steak – and what a performance. Florentine has a brilliant selection of quality beef from around the world, all dry-aged from 30-200 days (depending on the cut) for tenderness and cooked in a charcoal oven for maximum flavour. You can even add gold leaf (RM24/sheet), shaved truffle (RM48/3gm) or foie gras (RM48/50gm) to your steak if you’re feeling classy.
We have the Costata Argentina (RM142/280gm), a spectacular Argentinian Black Angus ribeye cooked just right – tender in the middle with a slight char on the edge. It bursts with flavour even without any seasoning. Unsurprisingly, it was my highlight of the day. We opt for Brussels Sprouts & Beef Speck (RM30) as a side, which complements the main course very well.
A coffee to finish – made with Lavazza beans, naturally – and one last lingering look at the pastry counter, wondering if we can make room for one more chocolate tart, before it’s time to wander off down The Row.
Reasons to visit Crema Pasticceria Moderna: Stunning Italian pastry selection with both traditional, modern and localised recipes; quality bakery and light lunch options; cosy cafe setting with a view of the baking kitchen.
Reasons to visit Florentine La Bisteccheria: Authentic Italian menu throughout, from antipasti to carpaccio and pasta; high-quality beef options with a wide selection of steaks, cuts, sauces and sides; relaxed environment with a continental feel.
Crema Pasticceria Moderna & Florentine La Bisteccheria Italian Steakhouse
64, Jalan Doraisamy, Chow Kit, 50300 Kuala Lumpur
+6 03 2602 1299
Crema Pasticceria Moderna Opening Hours
Daily 8 am – 5 pm (pastry counter open until midnight)
Florentine La Bisteccheria Italian Steakhouse Opening Hours
Daily: 5 pm-midnight