Fresh at Delucca
Ground Floor – Office Tower,
1 Jalan Nagasari,
Off Jalan Raja Chulan,
Tel: 03 2144 6545
Business hours: Open Tuesday to Sunday,
11.00am till midnight,
Friday and Saturday till 1.30am.
Closed on Monday.
An Italian eatery reinvents itself with both a dazzling new menu and refreshed classy interiors.
IT MIGHT be due to advancing age, but these days, it seems I never go out in the evenings. The frequent end-of-year evening monsoon storms could have something to do with this as would Kuala Lumpur’s insane traffic that inevitably peaks at dinner time.
So it’s a bit of a miracle that I brave both the rains and the clogged up roads to make my way to Delucca to meet a friend for a drink – on a Friday night, no less. The restaurant has been at its Jalan Nagasari location, opposite the hipster-friendly jazz bar No Black Tie, since 2008. From the looks of things, the street that hosts both establishments is fast-becoming a more refined alternative to the raucous Changkat Bukit Bintang strip, an area quickly resembling Bangkok’s crimson-tinged Sukhumvit or Silom districts.
Expecting to find just a small bunch of diners, I encounter the opposite – a buzzing and packed eatery, filled with a friendly cosmopolitan crowd. The interiors look like they have had a slight cosmetic nip-and-tuck. Gone are the bright yellow lighting and natural-tone wooden chairs and tables. Instead, I’m greeted by a stylish combination of luscious-looking dark wood furnishings, a design-aware bar counter and a seating area sporting a cleverly transformed table made from used wine crates.
The menu, too, has experienced a dramatic transformation. The following week, I rock up to the restaurant for lunch. Now, Delucca serves up a selection of crostini – open-plan sandwiches piled with yummy ingredients. Best enjoyed with a glass or three of wine, these “little toasts” are presumably an Italian alternative to Spanish tapas, made with toasted sourdough bread and lightly drizzled with olive oil.
My smoked salmon version with its thick cuts of fish cream cheese, avocado and red onion (RM32) is both filling and pretty to look at. There is also a variation created with burratina, a cream-added mozzarella offshoot, perched with slices of lightly grilled asparagus, and beef bacon sautéed in brown butter (RM32).
Then the pasta arrives. My maltagliati (small RM29; large RM39), an artful mesh of mostly haphazard rectangular shapes, is cooked al dente and slathered in a light and creamy and rather enjoyable wild mushroom and scallion sauce.
The menu also features an agnolotti dish – ravioli packed with braised beef, prepared satisfyingly in a delicious carbonara style – that might appeal to meat lovers.
The dinner specialities according to owner Firas Soweidan are heartier and heavier. There are selections like tenderloin, rib eye and T-bone steaks, all best enjoyed with decadent fegato grasso – pan-seared foie gras (RM30).
“Authentic Italian cuisine, where wholesome ingredients are at the heart of all that matters, is what you’ll find at Delucca,” says Soweidan, who has spent the past few years perfecting the culinary ins and outs of his little labour of love together with his business partners and the culinary team, fronted by Chef Afiq.
“There’s a fresh food ideology at play in Delucca, and the past 10 months have seen a thoughtful refinement of their offerings leaving only the ‘best of the best’.”
Fittingly, new to Delucca is the wood-fire oven, a contraption that has made possible new offerings like the new range of pizzas, including the acciughe (RM29). Created from a special type of dough, the restaurant’s secret recipe, the 25cm pizza, resembling in size a more diminutive version of a vintage vinyl record, is perfect for one, and is available for both lunch and dinner. Topped with white anchovies, scallions, chilli and purple onions, the pizza, one of 10 varieties available, is made fresh with each order, allowing more time to savour a jolt of caffeine from the brewed on-the-spot RAW coffees.
Or, if you prefer something stronger, sample one of the bartender’s heady cocktails.
Although I’m not a fan of lunch-time dessert, the parfait (“perfect” in French) – a glorious blend of half-frozen sugar syrup, eggs, cream and bananas, paired with chocolate sauce and caramelised banana (RM16) – is a rich end to an authentic Italian lunch.