IL Bacaro’s lovingly prepared delicacies celebrate the Italian culinary tradition with a touch of innovation.
The cosy restaurant, part of the award-winning Campbell House boutique hotel in George Town, Penang, prides itself on authentic Italian flavours.
But proprietor Roberto Dreon is passionate about local produce too and some dishes are tweaked to incorporate and highlight this element.
Many dishes are house creations by Dreon and head chef Alessio Sortino, inspired by their homeland.
These can mostly be found on the daily specials menu written on a rustic chalkboard that servers will move around from table to table.
Among the latest selections is Deep-Fried Soft-Shell Crab Salad with Abalone Mushroom and Garlic Mayonnaise.
The crustaceans are sourced from Myanmar as they are of a higher quality and remain crispy for longer, ensuring a crunch till the very last bite.
Dreon, who hails from Venice, said seafood was an integral part of Italian cuisine as bountiful waters surround the country.
“Soft-shell crabs feature in many dishes during spring and autumn in Italy, their moulting season.
“As a child, I would go with my cousins to lagoons, armed with buckets, to catch them. We made sure to grab them from the back to avoid being pinched!” he recalled.
The new Homemade Squid Ink Pasta with Clams, Cherry Tomatoes and Bottarga (mullet roe) is a work of art that is also awash with flavours of the sea.
The thick dark sauce — perked up by the juicy clams and briny roe — clings nicely to the Stracci pasta. The black colour of the pasta gives the dish great visual impact.
“Squid is another Italian staple. People try to use every part of it and the ink is added to many things,” Dreon noted.
Equally dark and appealing is the Black Pizza which has a vegetable charcoal-infused crust beneath a layer of tomato paste, buffalo mozzarella cheese, spicy salami and olives.
“The pizza dough is kneaded three times a day to achieve the proper lightness before it is rolled. This helps it become crusty and puffy when baked.
“The charcoal gives it a lighter texture and also helps with digestion,” he said.
The restaurant’s popular Chocolate Mount Etna dessert has also made a return.
Named after the active Sicilian volcano, it oozes warm chocolate ‘lava’ that goes with cool vanilla ice cream.
Dreon said they were bringing in unique wines from Italy in the coming weeks like those from the Bosco del Merlo/Paladin Winery in the Veneto region.
He believes diners will love the Raboso Rosato, a sparkling wine with cherry flavours, and also the Syrah. There will also be a Lodolaio Chianti from a bespoke winemaker in Tuscany and a prestigious Franciacorta sparkling wine from Lombardy.
Il Bacaro is open from 8am to 10.30pm daily. Breakfast is served from the opening till noon, followed by the regular menu and specials thereafter.
- For more details, visit www.campbellhousepenang.com or call 04-2618290 for reservations.