Monday, 6 May 2013

Sassorosso, Italian Restaurant, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Sassarosso, Best Italian Restaurant, Kuala Lumpur
Chocolate Flan - from beginning to ending, Sassarosso leaves no detail uncovered

Soooo Sublime - Sassorosso


Words by Carter James

Photos by The Yum List


I can tell the passion of a restaurant by the vastness of its wine list. Restaurateurs with a hankering for finding, and making available, fine wine tend to put the same effort into ensuring their chefs do the same in the kitchen. Although, drinking an entire bottle of RM500 plonk is not always an option, it becomes special when you can purchase fine wine by the glass – allowing yourself that rare treat of a glass or two, when everyone else is on the sparkling water, San Pellegrino, of course.

Sassarosso, Best Italian Restaurant, Kuala Lumpur
Entrance to the private room

My recent excursion to Sassorosso was one such example – a huge wine list, no, lets term it a cellar - wines of all ranges available by the glass as well as the bottle, and food that really impressed. Stepping through lunch was a delightful task – sampling great dishes, and matching these with some excellent wines, plus one or two specialty drinks too – I was just so grateful that I had help eating lunch.

Sassarosso, Best Italian Restaurant, Kuala Lumpur
Impressive wine cellar with an exclusive collection of fine wines

As I parked my car and walked to Sassorosso, I could tell something was special. A quaint 1940’s style bungalow, neatly manicured gardens, and an outside dining area complete with a wood-fired pizza oven - this place meant serious business.

Sassarosso, Best Italian Restaurant, Kuala Lumpur
Wood Fired Oven

Restaurant owner and host, Giovanni was an absolute gem. Not only passionate about wine (I suspect he had it running through his veins from a very early age), but extremely knowledgeable about the cuisine and the stories behind it too. Giovanni took us on a tour of Sassorosso, showcasing my third favourite pastime in life after food and wine – art. An exceptional collection of stunning originals, with an eclectic symbiosis of “just falling into place”, adorned the various walls and unique surfaces that Sassarosso presented. Specialities “need passion” he quipped – I certainly see passion right throughout Sassarosso at every level. 

Sassarosso, Best Italian Restaurant, Kuala Lumpur
Sassarosso - the painting behind the name

We started our lunch with a sauvignon blanc, paired with a crab salad. The sauvignon blanc was crisp yet light, with defined passion fruit overtones, and just a hint of green apple at the end. The dish – chunky pieces of fresh crab, drizzled with a light mayonnaise, orange juice, white pepper and salt. A clean taste, with beautifully coloured presentation. If this is how today is heading, I am in for a treat. Honestly, I’m not a crab fan, but this dish may just have changed my mind – I would definitely have this a second time.

Sassarosso, Best Italian Restaurant, Kuala Lumpur
Crab salad with mayonnaise, fennel and orange segments
Sassarosso, Best Italian Restaurant, Kuala Lumpur
Gratinated Eggplant Parmigiana

Laguna, our next wine was served in a fresh glass. Slightly acidic, but light to the palette, this is definitely an afternoon wine – something that should not be bound by the glass, but rather explored by the bottle. Giovanni stated something that I hadn’t heard in a while – “raw meat needs to be paired with delicate wine” – I guess that was a hint as to what was to come. This stunning white number really did pair well with the Carpaccio of tenderloin – paper thin slices of marbled beef with a celery julienne and arugula. The melt in the mouth taste was evident on first bite – but then added with a few sips of the Laguna and the taste explosion launched like a rocket. I now understood the comment – yes, raw meat is best with delicate wine – they bring so much out in each other! Perfect synergy!

Sassarosso, Best Italian Restaurant, Kuala Lumpur
Lugana San Benedetto, Zenato, Veneto 2011

Sassarosso, Best Italian Restaurant, Kuala Lumpur
Beef Carpaccio with rocket salad, artichoke hearts, celery, Parmesan flakes, citronette dressing

I guess I’m pretty fussy when it comes to dining etiquette, and one of the little things that impressed me the most about Sassarosso was the waiting staff’s attention to detail. Ever ready to assist, they also ensured always to bring fresh cutlery and crockery for each new dish, and each new glass of wine was served in a fresh glass. It’s these touches that leave an impression.

Next on our Italian journey was the Duck Ravioli. I don’t think I have ever had duck ravioli before, so I was definitely excited. Duck is an amazingly versatile meat, hot or cold, and sits up there on my list of favourites to try through different cultures’ cuisine. Delightful handmade ravioli, embedded with duck mousse. Surrounding the ravioli parcels, thinly sliced mushroom, tender duck breast, and a jus of boiled down and roasted duck bones. Just Beautiful!

Sassarosso, Best Italian Restaurant, Kuala Lumpur
Fresh homemade duck ravioli with mushroom sauce and sliced duck breast

To match the duck, a Negresco Garda Classico Rosso was served. Medium to full bodied, this wine had the most amazing viscosity (legs, to those of us who prefer laymen’s terms).

Sassarosso, Best Italian Restaurant, Kuala Lumpur
Negresco Garda Classico Rosso, Provenza, 2009

Next to be served was the gnocchi - small tender mouthfuls, creamy gems – some of the best gnocchi that I’ve had in years. I love the bite sized portions, allowing for one bite to release the inner flavour and soak up the sauce encasing it. Sage, gorgonzola and cream heightened this delightful combination, and together with a very generous helping of gnocchi, one knew one was truly experiencing Italian culinary passion.

Sassarosso, Best Italian Restaurant, Kuala Lumpur
Potato gnocchi with creamy gorgonzola sauce, walnuts and fresh sage

Barramundi was served following – a first for me as I’ve never had this before. A nice firm fish, well seared; there were incredible bursts of flavour, especially when eaten with the blackened shallots served to the side.

Sassarosso, Best Italian Restaurant, Kuala Lumpur
Barramundi Fillet with asparagus, roasted capsicum, caramelized shallots and Balsamic reduction

But, my personal favourite of the entire experience – an exceptional Australian lamb with kalamata olive puree. Incredibly tender lamb, slightly salty, with a superbly crispy skin. Reminiscing about Sunday Roasts of decades past, this lamb bought thoughts of childhood rushing back, and with that, me seeking more. The olive tapenade was smooth, yet with a hint of texture. Mild, it blends well with the lamb, and if truth be told, I’d order it with fresh bread and treat it as a meal all on its own.

Sassarosso, Best Italian Restaurant, Kuala Lumpur
Oven baked Australian lamb noisette with Kalamata mash and fresh thyme sauce

Matched with a premium wine, a beautifully cloudy cabernet blend Castello di Querceto. At RM68 a glass, Giovanni explains how important it is to his customers to have options for all ranges of wine – quite often only one person at a table may be drinking, and they don’t want to enjoy a full bottle on their own – so Sassarosso ensures a range of by-the-glass wines at every level on the menu. I for one truly appreciated this, as did my companions. Although, between us, I’m sure we drank a whole bottle anyway.

As we neared the end of our lunch, I was reminded of two very important traditions – grappa and dessert. I was prepared for one, but not for both – although, I definitely enjoyed both.

Sassarosso, Best Italian Restaurant, Kuala Lumpur
Poli Grappa - aged for 15 years - a beautiful finish

Sassarosso imports 35 different grappa’s, in both white and brown. Brown, or algenta, was new to me. Algenta is typical grappa, made from moscato grapes, so naturally a little sweeter, and aged in oak barrels. Giovanni commented that it was not easy for Malaysians to drink grappa – although there was a growing appreciation of it – and with over 1000 bottles of grappa selling a year, I guess Sassarosso is doing its bit to educate people on the joys of this fine liquid.

Sassarosso, Best Italian Restaurant, Kuala Lumpur
An extensive selection of grappa
Sassarosso, Best Italian Restaurant, Kuala Lumpur
Villa Massa Limoncello

A trio of desserts were served. Chocolate lava cake with honey ice cream, accompanied by a sugar-free Passito dessert wine. As I burst the chocolate lava free from its host, then mixed it with the honey ice cream – boy I was in for a special flavour bubble. Alongside this, a crème brulee and a vanilla bean pannacotta. Both were light and fresh, and offered an amazing round-up to our meal.

Sassarosso, Best Italian Restaurant, Kuala Lumpur
Passito Dessert Wine

Sassarosso, Best Italian Restaurant, Kuala Lumpur
Creme Brulee

Sassarosso, Best Italian Restaurant, Kuala Lumpur
Panna Cotta

Special thanks go to Chef Giovanni – the inspiration behind our wonderful taste journey. Greek-Italian, and Milan raised, Giovanni is no stranger to top-notch kitchens, having worked in Hyde Park Corner at a time when it was the only one star Michelin restaurant in London. Now, we don’t get this type of heritage every day. Giovanni, welcome to the Yum List – you deserve to be here!

Reason to visit: incredible wine selection including an exclusive range of fine wines and too excellent wines available by the glass; duck ravioli; gnocchi; lamb; crab salad; chocolate flan... okay... everything!

Best Italian Restaurant, Kuala Lumpur
Map to Sassarosso
Sassorosso
9 Lorong Yap Kwan Seng
50450 Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia
+6 03 2166 6428
Open 7 days
Lunch Monday - Saturday 12 noon - 3pm.
Dinner Monday - Sunday 6pm - 11:30pm.
Excellent value three course set lunches including tea or coffee at RM48++ available weekdays. 




26 comments:

  1. That's an awesome looking fish fillet...and oooo....the creme brulee!!! Yummmm!!! Near Market Place? That's the gay hangout, right? Got restaurant there too?

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    1. Barramundi - an Aussie classic. :-) Not sure about Market Place? My radar in that street goes straight to Sassarosso.

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  2. I've resumed my blog-hopping after a mth long absence. Thks so much for visiting during this period! What a delight to be greeted by a food post! Then again, it's making me hungry. Lol! I love Italian & hope I've the chance to visit this place.

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    1. Welcome back. It's great to take a break from blogging. I hope you get to visit this spot next visit to KL.

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  3. Everything looks great. Parking is easy?

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    Replies
    1. Parking is okay... it's street side. Evenings and weekends are definitely not a problem. For lunch time there are lots of parking lots in the surrounding streets.

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  4. Wow that looks fantastic. Goodness, there are a lot of very good Italian restaurants out there, and it is nice to hear of one that does gnocchi so well!

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    1. This one is especially lovely too with its bungalow location.

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  5. duck ravioli! count me in for that!!! :D

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    1. Yes, this is not a dish to share! Tastes so good you want the plate all to yourself.

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  6. I had to stare at the chocolate flan quite some moments.

    And of course the duck ravioli!

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    Replies
    1. Hee, hee... I've spent a few minutes myself dreaming over the chocolate... :-)

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  7. food looks sublime.. great photography.. well done! :D

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    Replies
    1. Thanks hon. You'd like this spot.

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  8. oh those choc flan and eggplant parmigiana...I think I would like to have a anniversary dinner here!!

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    Replies
    1. Oh yes, could even just have the choc flan! I'm sure many ladies might consider it a meal. ;-)

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  9. great wines, awesome food, must be a lovely meal eh :)

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  10. A lovely dining experience! I want some chocolate flan!

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    Replies
    1. Me too! I drool every time I remember it. :-)

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  11. what a lunch! the first photo already had me hooked..... :)

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    Replies
    1. It was enough to last us happily the whole weekend!

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  12. Oh, the first dessert.... who can resist?

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    Replies
    1. Choi Yen, not me! I didn't resist. I bravely fought the boys for the last spoonful (and won!).

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  13. i'm already drunk by just looking at the bottles of grappa ;) i should visit this place more often ;)

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