La Scala, Italian Restaurant
La Scala is sure to soon become one of the most popular Italian eateries in the city. Style, service, a good wine list and traditional cuisine are all drawcards.
|La Terrazza La Scala|
We begin our evening at La Terrazza La Scala, the al fresco dining and rooftop terrace. Stunning views of the glimmering Twin Towers and KL Tower are viewed with cocktail in hand. Cleverly (we think) arriving in time for sunset we can’t resist a little alcoholic indulgence before our meal. We start with a traditional Italian favourite, the Bellini (RM38). They are made according to the original recipe from Harry’s Bar in Venice. A pretty peach pink in colour, they leave a tingly sparkle on the insides of our cheeks. These are a must order.
|La Terrazza La Scala|
The main dining area on the first floor combines gallery with restaurant. Diane Epstein photographs capture the magic of Rome, while frescos by Simone Gerardo Torri Pisoni bring old world charm to the interior. Linens are 100% Egyptian thread and are supplied by Rivolta Carmignani, who also furnishes the Armani Hotels. The space has clearly benefitted from the passion of a professional designer.
|Private Dining Room|
Giant misaligned planks of recycled wood form a three dimensional brick-like pattern on the back wall. Others are textured with fabric and some have a shiny grey, black marble appearance. Dome shaped lanterns hang from the ceiling and are worthy of closer inspection with their intricate patterns lining the lampshades.
Olive trees will soon be flown from Italy to further adorn the balcony, but currently grape vines are growing from corner pots, creeping up the gazebo ready to overtake and provide a shady haven. An automated awning allows dining on the patio even in inclement weather.
White clothed tables are broken with a grey centre cloth. Tall glass holders clutch slender ashen candles and large vases house white orchids. Soft opera music, much the same as what is played at the original La Scala opera house in Milan, adds an undercurrent of positive energy. The chef and floor manager buzz around tables checking in on guests. It feels familiar. The owner says, “If you want to go to Italy for one night, you come here.” And here we are, ready for a taste of “real Italian.”
The Amuse Bouche is delivered to our table, a triangle of white, based with a zig-zag line of balsamic and, crowned with fresh Italian Parsley. We soon learn it’s a squid tartare with pistachio and lemon. The fish is fresh, the balsamic tart yet sweet and, a drizzling of olive oil coats the mouth. It’s a fine start.
Focaccia, grissini and a Parmesan roll are all served on our side plates from a white linen-lined basket. The grissini is crispy with crystals of sea salt, the focaccia also benefits from a sprinkling of salt and sprigs of rosemary add flavour too. The roll has the distinct taste of Parmesan and is soft, sticking to the teeth, forcing us to joyfully clear our gums with our tongues.
|Bread - Parmesan Roll, Grissini, Foacaccia|
Faced with a page of starters, we can’t agree where to begin. Chef suggests a degustation platter, which allows us to try a little bit of everything. “Perfecto,” declares hubby, relieved that neither of us has to concede to the other.
Arranged on attractive glass plates, with four cavities for each item, our mouths are already watering deciding where to begin. The Capesante al Tartufo Bianco con Uova di Quaglia (RM68), sports a portly truffle roasted Hokkaido Bay scallop capped with a petite quail egg and striped beside with a red beetroot sauce. Yum!
|Capesante al Tartufo Bianco con Uova di Quaglia|
Carpaccio di Polipo (RM48) arranges pale octopus carpaccio in a circular fashion, making us first believe it’s a fan shell holding finely chopped veges. Upon closer inspection though we see the slimly sliced flesh holding a panzanella salad - celery, tomato and cucumber give a pleasant burst of garden to the sea.
|Carpaccio di Polipo|
Carpaccio di Manzo Organico Fassona Piemontese (RM56) is recommended by the owner and we can clearly taste why. Italian organic beef carpaccio is dressed with balsamic, wild arugula and Parmesan shavings. “Fantastic,” murmurs hubby, “So fresh. I think he just killed the cow!”
|Carpaccio di Manzo Organico Fassona Piemontese|
A deep fried breaded cube holds the Cubo di Coda Alla Vaccinara (RM46). Its crunchy exterior protects a richly delicious ox tail stew, Vaccinara style. Bloody Mary sauce and dill mayonnaise moisten the block.
|Cubo di Coda Alla Vaccinara|
Tuna Tartare will come out in the March menu, but we get a sneak peak tonight. Tiny cubes of green apple add a fruity freshness and, pistachio, a nutty finish. The three distinct flavours merge together to form a satisfying mouthful.
Foie gras with cheese fondue, organic honey and onion jam are the fundamentals behind Torcione di fegato d’Oca (RM84) and has both hubby and I moaning in delight.
|Torcione di fegato d’Oca|
The Italian white wine, Greco di Tufo Feudi di San Gregorio 2012 (RM288) is from the same region as the chef. We must have it! Hubby only drinks white wine (I enjoy both) so we need something that’s full flavoured to accompany our meatier dishes such as the ox and duck. I detect light aromas of minerals, the forest and, herbs on the nose and experience a fresh, full body with a mid length finish in the mouth. We’d definitely order this again.
|Greco di Tufo Feudi di San Gregorio 2012|
Chef Lucio Russo is crazy about his pasta. He makes everything from scratch and delivers a spirited monologue on what defines real Italian pasta. He insists that there will be no compromises and no adaptations in his proudly Italian kitchen. He’s keeping to the traditions and keen to educate about authentic cuisine from his homeland.
Fresh egg pasta is made every day. It only takes a few minutes to cook so, is never precooked (as is often the case with dried pasta), it’s always prepared a la minute. Even lasagna is made in single portions. There’s no prepackaged anything. Risotto too is made in the moment. “So expect a 20 minute delay,” he says, “If you want the best, you have to allow time for it. You have to wait.” He cuts no corners in his kingdom. We’re enthused by his passion and can’t wait to try his personal recipes.
Quattro Ravioli (RM62) features four different stuffings in four different colours. Taleggio cheese and walnut pesto; eggplant parmigiana; porcini and pecorino cheese and; ricotta and spinach, flavour the centres. It’s a fetching presentation with the rainbow of tints. Each piece is big enough to be cut into halves or quarters and hubby shows some self-restraint tonight, cutting them neatly in half so I can taste a bite of each. Each filling is distinct and we’re happy to have the option to try four varieties on one plate.
From the Valentine’s menu we try the Ravioli Rosa. 24kt gold-flaked pink ravioli are stuffed with Genovese ragout. Chef says everything on the Valentine’s menu is heart shaped to bring happiness for the girl. I like that theory and the pasta too.
Hubby insists on tortellini, as he recalls fond memories of our travels through Italy with local friends, where it was nothing to drive for an hour and a half to dine on the best in the country. Tortellini al Taleggio (RM52) doesn’t disappoint. Thin shreddings of cheese and turkey ham add a hearty homey-ness to the dish and appease our longings for the taste of Emilia (home of tortellini).
|Tortellini al Taleggio|
Anatra Scaloppata, duck breast roasted with raspberry and Bronte pistachios, is from the Valentine’s menu but will soon become part of the regular menu in March. A fan of sliced flesh bases the plate. The duck is simply roasted in oil and salt, producing a medium rare finish. It’s softly pink in the middle and tender, with a salty skin. The middle of the plate is a large raspberry heart. The sauce is fruity and tart. The top corner hosts a mound of garden leaves with salt, balsamic and oil. The three together are an amazingly delicious combination. It’s a good idea to try all three separately then, experiment with the trio together. This turns out to be hubby’s favourite and we’re sure it will also be a hit with Malaysians.
With chef’s pastry background, you’d be a fool to miss desserts. We’ve heard the Tiramisu is the best in the city, but we also see a ginger crème brulee, pear and ricotta… and… and… chef suggests we end as we started with a degustation platter, allowing us to try a number of sweets.
The importance of maintaining integrity of traditional Italian fare is clearly evident in the main courses at La Scala. Pastry however, is a little indulgence of chef’s fantasies. He likes to play with the mind by putting together unlikely combinations that form something pleasing for the palate, but entertaining for the intellect, such as his tomato ice cream.
We find the Tiramisu creamily addictive, with high quality mascarpone imported directly from Italy the key ingredient. It proves that the simple pleasures in life don’t need to be messed with. Hubby cheers on my thoughts, “Outstanding. This has the wow factor,” as he scrapes the sides of the dish.
The Ginger Crème Brulee has just a hint of spice, with thick creamy custard dominating the mouth. Wafer thin caramelization lines the top forming an elegant guard for the richness below.
|Ginger Crème Brulee|
Chocolate Cake with Vanilla English Cream (opening picture) is dark, warm and gooey. Even hubby, who’s not usually into chocolate, lets out a satisfied sigh upon tasting it. Finally, Ricotta and Pear, a famous dish from the Amafi coast, uses a hazelnut basket instead of the customary biscuit. Fluffy soft white cheese embraces delicate pieces of pear and, it too, soon disappears.
|Ricotta and Pear|
A trio of house made gelato arrives as a final treat. Pistachio, basil and tomato (sorbet) arouse our curiosity. Both the pistachio and basil are strongly flavoured with their identifying ingredients. The tomato variety is rich, almost having the same intensity as a full-flavoured pasta sauce. They’re all balanced in sweetness and intrigue, and melt quickly – no artificial stabilizers here. It’s a fun way to end and we’re thoroughly convinced we’ll return again in the not so distance future.
Reason to visit: traditional, superbly executed Italian cuisine; elegant ambience; good wine list (over 200 labels); many vegetarian dishes; Bellinis; beef carpaccio; ox cubes; fresh pasta; duck; intriguing gelato flavours.
La Scala Italian Restaurant
183 Jalan Mayang (off Jalan Yap Kwan Seng)
Kuala Lumpur 50450
+6 03 2161 2291
Lunch: Monday to Friday 12noon – 2:30pm
Dinner: Monday to Saturday 6:30pm – 10:30pm
Parking is on site with the entrance either via Jalan Mayang or Jalan Yap Kwan Seng.
La Scala is also walking distance from KLCC and Avenue K.
View La Scala Italian Restaurant in a larger map