61, Jalan Maarof,
Tel: 03-2282 2225
Business hours: 11.30am till midnight.
Closed on Sundays.
A wood-fired oven is the prized possession of the Italian Tomato Restaurant in Bangsar.
It is where Chef Wan Safwan Hifni makes his pizzas and beef ribs.
As he slid our Pizza Vegetali — pizza topped with broccoli, cauliflower, carrot, tomato and mozzarella — into the oven with a long paddle, he said, “It’s fast and easy, and the pizzas are so delicious! This is the classic way of preparing pizzas.”
Having worked at several Italian establishments since he was 19, chef Wan Safwan knows the tricks of the trade.
“I learned how to make the dough for the pizza crust from an Italian chef. Here, we make it thin so it is crunchy,” the 33-year-old said.
Our recent dinner at Italian Tomato started with Insalata Contona (mixed salad with tuna in creamy lemon dressing) and Crema Di Funghi (homemade cream of mushroom).
The flavourful lemon dressing was concocted with lemon juice, cream, mayonnaise, anchovies, Tabasco sauce and mustard, while three types of mushrooms — button, oyster and shitake — were used for the mushroom soup.
“The combination makes the soup tasty,” Wan Safwan said.
Gnocchi Gamberi, or little potato dumplings and prawns sauteed in herb butter, was another starter that piqued our curiosity.
The savoury and chewy balls that resembled yam abacus seeds turned out to be potatoes.
“I boil and mash the potatoes, shape the mash into little balls and then deep-fry them,” chef Wan Safwan explained.
Moving on to the main courses, Spaghetti alla Pescatora (mixed seafood in a hearty tomato sauce) and Petto Di Manzo Con Vino Rosso (roasted beef ribs in a reduction of red wine on a bed of mashed potato) were served.
There was a generous portion of seafood, including squid, prawns, mussels and clams, in the spaghetti flavoured with garlic and anchovies.
Chef Wan Safwan revealed that he marinated the beef for a day, before sautéing it and and then sending it into the wood-fired oven for eight hours.
For drinks, Italian Coffee, sangria and Fido Dido (a combination of green apple, watermelon, lemon and Sprite) were recommended.
The restaurant, located next to a car-care centre, was formerly Gaja Bistro & Cafe, which specialised in Asian cuisines.
It underwent a revamp last December to reflect the expansion of the owners’ auto detailing business.
However, a few popular dishes, such as petai prawns and Nyonya curry fish head, are still available due to popular demand.
This is the writer’s personal observation and is not an endorsement by StarMetro.