For taste buds accustomed to the usual marinara or tomato-based sauces, an Asian twist in an Italian ravioli is indeed a pleasant surprise.
The fusion of spicy red chillies and duck breast filling was something relatable to a local dish, more so with the inclusion of ginger in lime soy sauce.
The spiciness of hot chillies and tangy lime flavours are often found in Malaysian food especially local Chinese and Malay cuisine but discovering the combination in ravioli was a first for me.
The Ravioli d’Anatra is Cristian Grandi’s creation based on his observation of cooks at hawker stalls and local restaurants.
Grandi, who helms the Mari Ristorante and Bar kitchen, has lived here for four years.
“We wanted to provide something new and original for our customers.
“It involved many trials to get local ingredients and flavours to work together in a ravioli dish, ” he said.
Grandi takes pleasure in concocting new combinations as well as flavours to surprise diners.
An example of his experiments is the Ravioli al Salmone, drizzled with sweet orange sauce.
The pairing seemed dubious at first but the zesty orange sauce complements the salmon and buffalo mozzarella filling beautifully.
The thickness of the pasta was on point while its taste was inviting, leaving diners yearning for more.
Another dish, the Ravioli Primavera, featured homemade spinach ravioli stuffed with mixed vegetables in spicy peanut sauce.
The diced vegetables revealed sweetness from the mix of peas, carrots, onions, yellow and green zucchini, followed by a mild spicy aftertaste.
“It is a culinary adventure dining here, ” said Mari Ristorante and Bar director Shaheera Shahab.
“Although our dishes take influences from Hong Kong, India and the Philippines, we do not overdo it.
“Diners can expect a simple and straightforward Italian meal with an Asian taste.”
Shaheera said the restaurant’s name “Mari” showcased geographical similarities between Malaysia and Italy as both countries were surrounded by the sea.
“‘Mari’ means ‘come’ in Bahasa Malaysia and ‘seas’ in Italian hence we are quite similar in that sense, ” she said.
The restaurant has dining areas on two floors as well as an al-fresco setting.
At the lounge, diners can take in different colours of lights at KL Tower in the evening, while dining under a transparent roof.
Mari’s pizza range too has an Asian touch to it, with local herbs and spices added to zest up the menu’s offering.
Salmon lovers will definitely find the Mustaffa Pizza delightful as it arrived aromatic and inviting, laden with whipped cream, mozzarella, zucchini as well as generous servings of smoked salmon and salmon roe.
The smoked salmon’s fragrance is instantly distinguishable, making the pizza truly appetising.
“We use flour imported from Italy for the ravioli and pizza so diners can have an authentic taste of Italian cuisine, enhanced with Asian flavours, ” added Grandi.
The Bharata Pizza which is topped with red curry sauce, chicken tenders and roasted potatoes is addictive while the Costa Smeralda’s sambal sauce, tiger prawns and squid served with kaffir lime zest and ginger chips wins locals over easily.
The Filetto di Barramundi did not disappoint with barramundi fillet roasted to perfection. It was paired with green asparagus, red cabbage slaw, capers and lemon sauce.
MARI RISTORANTE & BAR, 2, Lorong Raja Chulan, Kuala Lumpur. (Tel: 03-2022 0968) Business hours: 4pm to 1am (weekdays), 4pm to 2am weekends. Pork-free.
This is the writer’s personal observation and not an endorsement by Star Metro.