30 Jalan Manis 1,
Taman Segar, Cheras,
56100 Kuala Lumpur.
Business hours: The restaurant is open daily
from 11.00am till past 12.00am.
Tel: 03-9134 2783 or
visit www.thepalazzo.com.my for more info.
THE Palazzo, tucked away in Taman Segar, Cheras is probably an undiscovered gem for those who want Mediterranean cuisine leavened with some local flavours.
Approaching a year in existence, Palazzo also boasts its own collection of wines and liquors. Hardly a surprise considering restaurant owner Datuk Jonathon Wong started Palazzo as a wine retail outfit.
“Then the customers started opening their bottles to drink in here. Back then we did not really have a full lunch menu. At best, it was a chef’s menu, meaning whatever was on the stove that day,” said Wong.
Since its opening in September 2011, the menu has since grown to two A4 pages, ranging from appetisers and main courses, to even cheese platters and tapas.
Some of the entries are definitely Mediterranean in nature, with ingredients such as a corn-fed Iberian ham. Others, such as chili pesto for fish, sidle closer to Malaysian palates with their spicy pesto spread.
For this food review, the writer and photographer tried out a a combination of items from Palazzo’s current and new menu, with Wong and his kitchen aiming at rolling out the latter in the near future.
The Squid Ink Pasta, which arrived first, was suitably drowned in thick black ink gravy and garnished with basil leaves. According to kitchen head Susan Cheah, who is also Wong’s mother, they use about two packets of squid ink per dish.
While squid ink dishes usually have a briny aroma, the aroma was cleverly masked by garlic, herbs and cream cheese.
Then again, Wong and Cheah are cooking to their customers preferences, many whom do not enjoy the iodine aroma. Nonetheless, the pasta is a filling dish, on its own or shared. When eaten together with the basil leaves, the dish conjures a nice contrast with the rich texture of the sauce and pasta.
“Goosey” is the name of the second dish, pasta cooked in foie gras dripping, with apple slices hidden in between the noddles. The pièce de résistance is the huge piece of foie gras placed on top of the noodles.
“You’re supposed to mash it into the noodles,” said Wong. It feels almost like sacrilege to just mash the buttery goodness into the noodles. But the end result, when eaten together with the tart, sweet apple slices had us scraping the plate clean.
Those looking to indulge their inner cavemen instincts can try out the “I Love Ribs” , a slab of three full ribs in a sauce composed of handmade tomato puree, onions, sea salt, BBQ sauce, Dijon mustard, apple and honey.
The end product is a tangy sweet, rich sauce that goes well with the meat as well as the potato mash and greens-and-radish salad served on the side. The meat itself can be eaten right off the bone without cutlery, and Palazzo has thoughtfully provided plastic gloves for patrons who want to get down and dirty.
The grilled mackerel, which forms half of the Ocean Mackerel with Chilli Pesto, is nothing much to shout about.
But it does provide a savoury backdrop for the chilli pesto accompaniment, made from cili padi, garlic, ginger, garlic, lime and basil, all pounded together to form a tangy, not too spicy counterpoint for the mackerel’s grilled blandness.
There are other side dishes and signature dishes at Palazzo, as Wong’s father used to work at the old Majestic Hotel along Jalan Damansara, making smoked meat products.
His father and Cheah also made smoked products on their own and brought this expertise into the restaurant, with signature dishes such as smoked duck, crispy-skin English Roast Pork which go down well with the homemade garlic-chilli dip.
It is not just all Western, although most of the dishes show a strong Western influence.
One can find interesting items such as Tobiko Fried Rice with smoked chicken breast, where the Chinese-style fried rice is littered with strips of smoked breast, and a heap of Japanese flying-fish roe on top.
A good point about Palazzo is that the restaurant has a pretty good wine selection.
It offers both both New and Old World wines and one can also find late harvest vintages to round off a satisfying dinner.
This is the writer’s personal observation and is not an endorsement by StarMetro.