Beautifully Plated Pear Tart at Portofino Lucky Garden

Portofino Lucky Garden – Italian Restaurant

Portofino Lucky Garden – Italian Restaurant

Words: Stephen Reid
Photos: Rich Callahan

Chef Keli, originally from Northern Italy, was initially drawn to Malaysia’s warmth and hospitality while on holiday here. Recognising a business opportunity, he joined forces with his friend Luca to share their passion for traditional, homemade Italian fare. They moved to Malaysia within months, and Portofino Italian restaurant opened its doors in Lucky Garden, Bangsar, in 2014. Their focus on traditional Italian cuisine quickly garnered a loyal following among locals and foreign residents. Fueled by this popularity, they opened a second location in The Sphere, Bangsar South, in 2018. This new outlet promised the same delicious food and high-quality experience but with a modern, contemporary setting featuring ample greenery and an open atmosphere. This has been followed by further openings, Dolce Vita in Nexus Bangsar South, Five O’Clock Brasserie in the Sphere Bangsar South, and a new one on the way in Mont Kiara.  

Chef Keli’s passion for food began at a young age when he assisted his mother in the kitchen and provided the basis for what would become an ongoing career. He enrolled in “Istituto Alberghiero Orio Vergani” culinary school in Ferrara, Italy, graduating with a diploma after five years. The summers were spent honing his skills at a prestigious 4-star hotel, Hotel Bellettini in Milano Marittima. Starting at just 14, he diligently worked his way up from basic tasks like peeling vegetables to mastering the pasta section, all the while gaining valuable discipline and experience under the tutelage of the head chef. Following graduation, Keli honed his craft further at Il Don Giovanni, a Michelin-starred restaurant in his hometown. This experience solidified his expertise in handmade pasta, a skill he carries with him to this day and is a highlight of the menu at Portofino Lucky Garden. 

Portofino Lucky Garden Facade
Portofino Lucky Garden
Upstairs Dining Area at Portofino Lucky Garden
Upstairs Dining Area at Portofino Lucky Garden

Portofino Lucky Garden

After ten years of feeding many satisfied customers and expanding their growing restaurant empire, Chef Keli told us that it was time to refocus on the restaurant that started it all: Portofino at Lucky Garden Bangsar, and invited The Yum List along to check out all the improvements. This restaurant has undergone extensive renovation and upgrading, bringing it bang up to date, now under the expert guidance of group Executive Chef Matteo Pasquale. Existing customers need not fear; favourites remain on the menu but with a refocus highlighting their authentic heritage and high-quality ingredients. Plus, there are a few new dishes to tempt your taste buds. 

Portofino Lucky Garden is a beacon of Italian charm in Bangsar.  The striking, orange-painted corner building with its blue neon “Portofino” sign is hard to miss, just a few blocks from Bangsar Village. Lush greenery spills out of planters, creating a welcoming Mediterranean vibe. Inside, newly varnished floorboards gleam, contrasting with the warm chocolate-coloured walls. Sunlight streams through large windows, illuminating rows of tables with crisp white linens. The inviting space is anchored by a long bar stretching down the opposite wall.

Upstairs Dining Area - Perfect for Events in Bangsar
Upstairs Dining Area – Perfect for Events
Versatile Space for Private Events
Versatile Space for Private Events

A Slice of Italy for Home

The back of the restaurant offers a curated selection of high-quality Italian produce. Portofino Lucky Garden even offers exclusive imports, like their Portofino Coffee, which is roasted near Chef Keli’s hometown. Don’t miss their Portofino Gin in a charming blue bottle decorated with an image of the beautiful Italian port that inspired the restaurant’s name.

Head upstairs for a spacious setting ideal for larger groups, parties, or special events. Upholstered chairs in a warm brown canvas fabric offer comfortable seating, while a long, inviting bench stretches down one wall. Arched mirrors and stylish glass pendant lamps complete the sophisticated ambience.

Bar & Dining Area at Portofino Lucky Garden
Bar & Dining Area at Portofino Lucky Garden

Drinks Menu & Prices

Portofino Lucky Garden boasts a comprehensive beverage list featuring local and Italian bottled beers, spirits, soft drinks, and a dedicated cocktail menu. While Chef Keli playfully suggested the Negroni Monica enjoyed on a previous visit, the afternoon setting called for something lighter. Opting for a classic, she selected the Gin and Tonic (RM 48) featuring Portofino’s exclusive gin. The drink was paired with Malafemma Italian tonic water, providing botanical notes and refreshing effervescence. Served in a balloon glass over ice, it was a perfect aperitif to kick off our meal.

Portofino Gin and Tonic Bangsar
Portofino Gin and Malafemma Tonic

Italian Menu & Prices

We were there to explore the refreshed a la carte menu. Still, we noted the Italian restaurant’s fantastic value proposition for budget-conscious diners. Affordable set lunches are available daily (even on weekends!), with two courses for RM42 or three for RM48, including a complimentary soft drink or coffee. (Scroll to the end for the a la carte menu.)

Lunch Set Menu & Prices Bangsar
Portofino Lucky Garden, Bangsar – Lunch Set Menu & Prices

A La Carte Menu – Starters

Our meal began with a colourful and refreshingly light Octopus Salad (RM 58). It showcased a Mediterranean octopus, tender and yielding without a hint of rubberiness. Creamy new potatoes, halved black olives, cherry tomatoes and basil were all tied together with extra virgin olive oil. 

Octopus Salad
Octopus Salad

The Sicilian Arancini (RM 34) were delightful contrasts of textures in crispy golden spheres. Each bite revealed a creamy bed of saffron-infused rice studded with tender fiordilatte mozzarella, a cheese made with whole cream milk for exceptional richness. Earthy mushrooms added depth, and a layer of decadent parmesan cheese fondue underneath tied it all together. I mopped up the last drop of the cheese sauce with the light and fluffy, freshly baked focaccia from the basket on our table.

Sicilian Arancini on white plate Italian Restaurant Bangsar
Sicilian Arancini

Portofino Lucky Garden Wine List

Portofino Lucky Garden’s affordable wine list offers a global selection catering to diverse palates. Italian wines take centre stage, although there are bottles from France and Spain and New World wines from Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and Chile.

To pair with our meat dishes later in the meal, we selected a Strabone Primitivo Salento IGP 2021 San Giorgio (RM 228). Known by its alter-ego in the USA as Zinfandel, Primitivo is a bold red grape that flourishes in Italy’s southern Apulia region. As some describe it, this “delightfully brash” wine boasts a deep, dark colour and juicy fruit flavours. Its high alcohol content makes it a perfect match for hearty dishes like lamb and steak.  If you prefer to bring a special bottle of wine of your own to enjoy your meal, there is a reasonable RM 80 corkage charge.

Strabone Primitivo Salento IGP 2021 San Giorgio at Portofino Lucky Garden
Strabone Primitivo Salento IGP 2021 San Giorgio

Risotto & Pasta Menu & Prices

Portofino Lucky Garden delivered a textbook rendition of Milanese Risotto (RM 52). It boasted perfectly cooked rice – firm yet yielding, with each grain distinct. Vibrant sunshine yellow from saffron, it was infused with the subtle sweetness of shallots, the richness of butter, and the depth of parmesan cheese. A splash of sparkling white wine added a touch of acidity. A large bone holding luscious, rich bone marrow complemented the vibrant rice. This was a risotto that was both delicious and “moreish.” You can order it without the bone marrow if you prefer a vegetarian option.

Milanese Risotto on black plate with bone marrow at Portofino Lucky Garden
Milanese Risotto

Another dish I highly recommend to vegetarians is the Orecchiette with Basil Pesto (RM 44). Orecchiette means “little ears” in Italian, ideally shaped to catch the sauce in every bite. The secret, of course, is the handmade pasta and the wonderfully fresh pesto. The freshness of the house-made pesto truly shone through, a stark contrast to jarred varieties. Parmesan and pecorino romano cheese further enhanced the aromatic basil, nutty pine nuts, and crisp green beans.

Orecchiette with Basil Pesto
Orecchiette with Basil Pesto

The Pappardelle with Lamb Ragout (RM 48) instantly transported me back to a cherished, now closed, Italian restaurant in Sydney. Memories of sun-drenched afternoons, sipping Aperol spritzes and indulging in steaming bowls of this comforting dish came flooding back. While that beloved spot is sadly no more, Portofino Lucky Garden’s rendition, dare I say it, perhaps even surpasses – the memory of my Sydney favourite. The wide, homemade pappardelle pasta boasts a satisfying al dente texture, ideally suited to capture the rich, slow-cooked lamb ragout. A sprinkle of parmesan cheese completed this nostalgic and utterly delicious dish.

Pappardelle with Lamb Ragout Italian Restaurant Bangsar
Pappardelle with Lamb Ragout

Portofino Lucky Garden Italian Pizza Menu

Portofino’s commitment to authenticity extends to their pizza, baked in an oven imported directly from Italy. This specialised oven ensures consistently crisp, thin crusts. Monica prefers her pizza crust this way, much like the judges on ‘The Great British Bake Off’; she thinks there is nothing worse than a ‘soggy bottom’! San Marzano tomatoes created a vibrant base in the Pizza 4 Stagioni (RM 46), topped with creamy fiordilatte mozzarella, savoury Italian beef salami, artichokes, slices of turkey ham, and earthy mushrooms. Parmesan cheese added a salty complexity, while fresh basil and extra virgin olive oil provided a finishing touch of aromatic freshness.

Pizza 4 Stagioni on wooden board at Portofino Lucky Garden
Pizza 4 Stagioni

Italian Main Courses

Although the Portofino Lucky Garden menu offers a wide selection of vegetarian dishes, carnivores have not been forgotten, and our following two courses were a meat feast. Portofino’s Fiorentina Ribeye Steak (RM 168, 250gm) featured a succulent grilled Angus beef ribeye with a delicious char. It was served on a wooden cutting board and accompanied by roasted potatoes, a whole roasted garlic bulb, and a rocket salad with cherry tomatoes, adding a refreshing counterpoint. Shaved parmesan cheese, a balsamic reduction, and rosemary-infused olive oil complete this classic Italian steakhouse presentation.

Fiorentina Ribeye Steak on Wooden Board Italian Restaurant Bangsar
Fiorentina Ribeye Steak

The Grilled Lamb Rack (RM 138, 4 pieces) offers a tempting proposition for lamb enthusiasts. Succulent New Zealand lamb cutlets are cooked to your preference on the grill and served with roasted new potatoes. The sautéed garlic spinach was delicious and added freshness. A black pepper sauce finished the dish with peppery heat, creating a well-rounded and satisfying main course.

Grilled Lamb Rack on Wooden Board Italian Restaurant Bangsar
Grilled Lamb Rack


For those with a sweet tooth, Portofino Lucky Garden doesn’t disappoint. We opted for the Chocolate Lava Cake (RM 36), a classic on many Italian restaurant menus. This particular rendition, however, was exceptionally rich and chocolatey. As we cut into it with our spoons, a wonderfully gooey centre spilled onto the plate; the creamy vanilla gelato and fresh strawberries helped balance the flavours.

Chocolate Lava Cake with berry sauce at Portofino Lucky Garden
Chocolate Lava Cake

While the lava cake was undeniably delicious, the Pear Tart (RM 28) stole the show for me. The pear slices were beautifully caramelised and boasted a rich sweetness. Encased in a perfectly crisp pastry crust, a smooth, rich, and creamy custard was layered under the pear slices, served with fresh strawberries and rich chocolate gelato. 

Beautifully Plated Pear Tart at Portofino Lucky Garden
Pear Tart

Portofino Lucky Garden Review

Portofino Lucky Garden, a stalwart of the Italian food scene for over a decade, is refreshed and better than ever. This original restaurant has undergone a delightful renovation and menu revamp, ensuring its success continues for years to come. The restaurant would be ideal for hosting a family celebration or even a corporate event. I’ve no doubt it will remain a beloved favourite of KL residents, now giving them even more reason to return. 

Reasons to visit Portofino Lucky Garden: centrally located in Lucky Garden, Bangsar; great event spaces for celebrations and special occasions; don’t miss the pappardelle with lamb ragout, the saffron risotto, or the orecchiette with pesto for a meat-free option.

Portofino Lucky Garden – Ristorante Italiano
No. 1 Persiaran Ara Kiri, Lucky Garden, Bangsar
59100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Link to Portofino Lucky Garden on Google Maps
+6 016 775 2387
[email protected]
*Vegetarian options
**Street parking or covered parking across the road in Bangsar Village

Portofino Opening Hours
Daily 11 am – 11 pm

Portofino Lucky Garden Menu & Prices
Portofino Lucky Garden Menu & Prices


Portofino Lucky Garden Menu & Prices Pasta
Portofino Lucky Garden Menu & Prices


Menu & Prices Italian Mains
Menu & Prices – Meat & Fish Mains


Pizza Menu & Prices
Pizza Menu & Prices


Dessert Menu & Prices
Dessert Menu & Prices

Find more Italian restaurants in KL here and stay up-to-date on the latest happenings in KL’s food and beverage scene here and here.

One Comment

  1. The food looks amazing and reminds me of my last visit to Italy.

    I love Italian cuisine.

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