Italian dishes with earthy flavours

Wong (left) and guest chef and consultant Milone worked together on the new menu at A’Roma Dinings. — Photos by LOW BOON TAT/The Star

THERE’s an unspoken rule in the food and beverage business: once an establishment has passed the five-year mark, there must be some changes to keep things fresh.

At A’roma Dinings, an Italian restaurant owned by a Chinese family in Taman Paramount, Petaling Jaya, the onus was to revamp their menu.

To do this, they roped in culinary and restaurant consultant Riccardo Milone, a 49-year-old chef from Piedmont, Italy, who owns and runs two restaurants in France and his native country.

This working collaboration with a Malaysian-owned Italian diner is a first for Milone.

As emphasis was on local ingredients, the chef was taken to the Selayang wet market. There, he and the eatery’s director, Ken Wong, found a local barramundi supplier who also exports his fish to the United States.

Pan-Seared Barramundi and Mint Panzanella.
Pan-Seared Barramundi and Mint Panzanella.

Due to the quality, this item became part of the new menu, pan-seared and served on a bed of panzanella salad of bread cubes, mint and tomatoes in olive oil and vinegar dressing.

But for a holistic look at the result of this new collaboration, we must begin with the starters.

There is Parma Ham with Burrata, where salty, meaty flavours blended with the soft, luxurious creaminess of the cheese.

Cutting away the richness in this dish are sticks of pickled zucchini with strong sourish notes.

Parma ham with burrata and pickled zucchini.
Parma ham with burrata and pickled zucchini.

Lending a fruity taste to this section is a dish of roasted peppers and red onions. To balance the sweetness, black olives, capers and anchovies combine to give a sourish and salty taste.

The red onions, made sweeter with pickling, are also used as topping in a de-constructed Nicoise salad with upgrades featuring a smoked tuna fillet and ayam kampung hard-boiled eggs.

The section also features Mini Squid Stuffed with Pureed Burnt Eggplant.

Cute to look at as well as good to eat with an appetising smoky saltiness, they are served on a puddle of tomato sauce spiced with roasted cumin.

Smoked Tuna with Kampung Egg, Pickled Red Onions and Nicoise Salad.
Smoked Tuna with Kampung Egg, Pickled Red Onions and Nicoise Salad.

True to Italian tradition, the pastas, including an Arborio rice dish with mushrooms and a light but creamy white wine sauce, were served al dente.

Fettuccine lovers will enjoy their version with pork sausage and grana padano, a hard, slow-ripened, low fat, cow’s milk cheese.

However, take note of the cheese ravioli. Paired with tender slices of lamb stewed in a tomato sauce, every bite releases cheese into your mouth.

For mains, there is a Whole Rack of Lamb Served with a Thyme-Infused Brown Sauce. Comprising five cutlets covered with an olive crust, pink in the middle and with fat that melts in one’s mouth, this dish is touted to be a popular favourite for its generous portion.

Mini Squid Stuffed with Burnt Eggplant and a Spicy Cumin Tomato Sauce.
Mini Squid Stuffed with Burnt Eggplant and a Spicy Cumin Tomato Sauce.

Priced at RM148++, this dish, as Wong says, “will make you happy”.

Lending an exotic touch is the Roasted Spanish Octopus Tentacle.

Resting on a shallow gazpacho moat, the addition of cumin into the thick, finely blended vegetable soup lends a spicy and earthy note to the dish.

Avocado slices, deep-fried with a coating of fine breadcrumbs, make a refreshing change to the usual servings of potato fries.

New Zealand Lamb Rack in a Black Olive Crust.
New Zealand Lamb Rack in a Black Olive Crust.

The new menu will be ready by the middle of the month.

The restaurant also plans to roll out its own brand of freshly made sausages, another result of the Milone-Wong collaboration.

Meat of wild game, quail, grouper and stingray are being considered as fillings.

They are expected to be ready for sale in the next couple of months.

A’ROMA DININGS, 1, Jalan 20/14, Taman Paramount, Petaling Jaya. (Tel: 03-7865 9829). Business hours: Tuesday to Thursday, 4pm-11.30pm, Friday to Sunday, 11.45am- midnight. Closed on Mondays. Non-halal.

This is the writer’s personal observation and is not an endorsement by StarMetro.

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