CHEF Alfredo Russo takes pride in highlighting the ingredients he cooks with.
He believes keeping things simple will help promote the originality of items on the plate, be it an oyster, carrot, cheese or cut of meat.
It is this innate desire to cook from the heart that has resulted in some flavours that leave diners wondering, “how did he do that?”
Ostrica Alfredo Russo (chef’s oyster ice cream) is an example of a dish that leaves diners in awe.
It is also a reflection of his dedication in making an ingredient stand out.
The much raved-about oyster ice cream is not a dessert but has the qualities of leaving diners spellbound right at the first course.
Its creamy consistency comes from the inclusion of olive oil to the oysters, spinned in an ice cream maker with a dash of seasoning.
Although the savoury oyster ice cream has been around for 20 years, it still manages to tantalise taste buds and requests for it, time and again comes as no surprise.
In fact, the oyster ice cream left quite an impression on St Regis Kuala Lumpur general manager Samuel Wong, sometime ago, and he was convinced that Russo’s modern Italian food would fit in perfectly with The Brasserie’s French-Mediterranean style.
Russo’s recent appearance as guest chef at St Regis reveals his finicky precision when it comes to presenting modern Italian cuisine.
Hailing from Piedmont in north Italy, Russo is respected for his ingenious method in treating ingredients.
After completing his studies and apprenticeships at Michelin-starred restaurants in Piedmont, Russo took the bold step of opening Dolce Stil Novo at the age of 22.
Three years of persistence and hard work then resulted in the restaurant earning its Michelin star, and less than 12 months later he met the criteria to enter Jeunes Restaurateurs d’Europe.
Leading Italian culinary guide “L’Espresso” awarded Russo the title of “Italy’s best young chef” in 2004.
Dolce Stil Novo, in 2008, moved inside the Palace of Venaria (Reggia di Venaria) becoming the first restaurant to be located inside a royal palace.
To get a taste of Russo’s mastery, the oyster ice cream with a touch of lemon juice wows diners in Kuala Lumpur.
It is appreciated with a fruity Voga Italia Prosecco DOC.
The concept of simplicity unveils further in the Mozzarella with Broccoli Puree, Garlic Olive Oil and crispy bread, served with the fresh and crisp Alois Lageder Riff Pinot Grigio.
Russo then takes things up a notch with the Roasted Prawns with Trio of Potatoes.
Paying special attention to the well-marinated shellfish, propped against an arrangement of boiled and mashed potatoes, sweet potato and potato sheet, gives an insight into Russo’s ability to combine basic ingredients and make them work.
The straw yellow Donnafugata La fuga Chardonnay’s tropical appeal complements this course perfectly.
To pique diners’ curiosity further, the satisfying Lightly Spiced “Broken Pasta” and Beans with Seafood is a reflection of Russo’s humility.
Different types of pasta with a variety of seafood, in rich seafood broth, dotted with beans for that contrast in flavour is reminiscent of a dish from Russo’s home.
Then we have the Egg with Tomato, Fresh Basil and Pecorino Cheese featuring ingredients typical to Italian cooking.
The combination of strong cheese with egg makes this a hearty dish, once again typical of Russo’s uncomplicated cooking style.
To soften the palate, we relished the delicate Cafaggio Chianti Classico DOCG Single Estate in preparation for a succulent Wagyu.
Creating music together are the pairing of Wagyu Beef Escalope with Beets, Radishes and Black Truffle with the Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino.
The root accompaniments and earthy aroma of truffles add depth to the Wagyu which is to be savoured slowly for its full enjoyment.
The dish can only be described as beautiful.
A welcome interlude is Coffee Granita with Cream, a pleasant treat with Creamy Ricotta Cheese and Citrus Parfait as the finale to our Russo experience.
“It is a challenge to be modern but still remain authentic. If I have to give some emotion when I cook, I put my heart into it because I care for the experience diners take home,” said Russo.
St Regis, in seeking to introduce new and innovative dining experiences, will be hosting Wolf Blass chief winemaker Chris Hatcher on Oct 9.
THE BRASSERIE, St Regis Kuala Lumpur, No 6, Jalan Stesen Sentral 2, Kuala Lumpur. (Tel: 03-2727 6666, 03-2727 1111) Business hours: 6.30am to 10.30pm, daily.
This is the writer’s personal observation and not an endorsement by StarMetro.