If you take the time to speak to Enoteca’s new executive chef and manager Tomasso Gocze, you’ll dig up all sorts of interesting information about the man. Like the fact that he grew up in the Republic of San Marino, Italy, but also spent a lot of time in Slovakia, where his half-Slovakian father ran a business. Gocze’s academic background is also noticeably very international – he attended school and eventually culinary school in San Marino as well as Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic. As a result, he speaks eight languages (!) – Italian, Russian, German, the Czech language, Polish, Slovakian, Hungarian and English.
After a career that has taken him through Germany, San Marino, Bahrain and Malaysia (he was the head chef of the Nero group’s Vineria restaurant), Gocze is now helming the reins at Enoteca.
Much like the fascinating Gocze, the restaurant has a colourful history – it was once called Neroteca (the name was merely rented from the Nero group; there was no association between the two restaurants), a fact that unsurprisingly resulted in much confusion.
“It was confusing, because the owners were different. So what happened was people would order food from Neroteca in Bukit Ceylon and come here instead. Reservations were mixed up and things like that. We always had to ask them if they were referring to the Bukit Ceylon outlet or not,” says Gocze who experienced things from the other side when he was in his previous job.
Since then, the eatery has been renamed Enoteca and alongside the name change, Gocze is forging a new path for the restaurant with a panoply of delectable Italian fare. Much of the food at Enoteca is made from scratch, from the pasta like ravioli, cannelloni and tagliolini down to the ricotta cheese and ice-cream.
“I like making everything in-house, like ricotta cheese, for example. I can buy Italian ricotta cheese, but if I can make it, why not do that instead?” he says.
The menu sparkles with Italian comfort food like Tagliere Enoteca (RM50 for a small portion), a selection of handpicked cold cuts sliced wafer thin. It runs the gamut from spicier offerings to options with more bite and chew and others that simply offer mild tenderness.
Then there is the Carpaccio Di Manzo (RM40) which is thin sliced black Angus tenderloin, rocket salad, parmesan and truffle oil. The beef has delicate bovine underpinnings that meld fluidly with the pungency of the cheese and the freshness of the rocket leaves. The truffle oil, meanwhile, adds an opulent touch to the whole offering (although it would have been nice to have had more of it).
Pastas are probably Enoteca’s ticket to fame, or at least that’s the way things are likely to figure in your head once you’ve had a mouthful of the Ravioli Ricotta Spinaci in Salsa Di Tartufo Bianco (RM48). The homemade stuffed dumplings are generously slathered in a white truffle sauce imported from Italy.
The overall euphoria that envelops you when you take that first bite is beyond description – you’ll see stars, hear an aria playing in the background, wonder if you’re being elevated to some other realm where food is pitch-perfect. Because this pasta, ladies and gentleman, is praise-the-Lord-above good – I for one, will be having dreams about this beauty.
If you think few things are likely to match that experience, just wait till you try the Enoteca Risoni (RM55). Under Gocze’s expert hands, the rice-shaped pasta is complemented with black Angus tenderloin, both of which are joined in holy matrimony by a superior sauce which he will only say is “a secret”. It’s the thread that links all these individual cogs together – it is rich and sumptuous and so incredibly addictive, that this too will emerge in your dreams.
Having sampled two such divine meals, the Cannelloni Salmone Ricotta E Broccoli (RM45) suffers from being in such illustrious company. Comparisons are inevitable and while the long tubular pasta is made well and stuffed with generous chunks of salmon and broccoli, it doesn’t quite hit the memory-etching mark of its predecessors.
Things move on an upward swing once again after sampling the Tagliata Di Pluma Iberico (RM105). The grilled Iberico pork neck is incredibly supple and tender, and is perfectly grilled, so that it is still pink in the middle. And the artichoke on the side makes for a masterful companion, ably jousting with its porcine brethren and adding texture and vitality to the meal in the process.
End your meal at Enoteca with another masterstroke: the Torta Di Cioccolato Valrhona (RM40) which features a stellar cast of characters in the ilk of the famed Belgian chocolate Valrhona, popular Italian favourite Nutella, crushed ice-cream cones, homemade ice cream and homemade caramel sauce. It’s a line-up where every element works hard to steal your heart – the rich, dense chocolate, that perfectly crisp, crackly base and the lush ice-cream come together to thrill every fibre of your being, lulling it into a state of pure, blissed out contentment.
And evidently, this is just the beginning for Gocze, who has plans to run cooking classes, start weekend barbecues and expand the menu.
“We have to always have new ideas,” he concludes simply.
15 & 17, Plaza Damansara
Jalan Medan Setia 1
50490 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2011 5725
Open daily: 11am to 3pm (lunch); 3pm to 6pm (pizza, canapes and happy hour); 6pm to 11pm (dinner)
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