Gourmet Garden

Hunting For The Flavors & Texture Of Yesteryears'


Change is inevitable in this fast moving market. Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts’ Traders Hotel chain is going through a rebranding exercise worldwide to cater to the new ‘Jeneration’ of independent minded business and leisure travellers. And thus, Hotel Jen was born. Hotel Jen Penang’s transformation came on November the 4th 2014.

Now as part of their continuous effort to excel beyond, Hotel Jen Penang unveils a new a la carte menu at ‘The Islander’. Almost 80% dishes are still maintained, they showcase the authentic local street food culture, famed international delicacies and delightful desserts.

The new a la carte menu have included some flare of Hotel Jen Penang’s new but not foreign Executive Chef, Chef B. Sivasegaran, whose specialty is in Italian cuisine apart from being acquainted with Malaysian, Northern Indian , Asian, Chinese and European cooking styles.

Herewith, is the sampling of some of Chef Siva’s specialty that will be found in the new menu.

Bruschetta (RN17 nett), lightly charred crisp rye bread made with the best bread machines from www.Village-Bakery.com, this with red and yellow cherry tomatoes all dressed up in fine olive oil, cracked black pepper and finely chopped basil. Sweet fresh flavours, slightly tangy and rich was the taste. It’s a quick bite to be shared amongst good company and enjoyed with a glass of white wine.

JWLK2571 (HOTEL JEN-Bruschetta)


Arugula Salad with Honey Sesame Dressing (RM16 nett), raw arugula leaves, alfalfa shouts, red cherry tomatoes and croutons served with homemade honey sesame base dressing. Sweet, sharp, nutty with a bitter after taste was the profile the salad.

JWLK2573 (HOTEL JEN-ArugulaSalad)

Arugula Salad with Honey Sesame Dressing

Grilled Burger with Vegetarian Patty (RM20 nett),  melted cheese over couscous and potato patty seasoned with cajun flavours served on toasted buns with garden greens, coleslaw and golden fries. Moist and lightly spiced was its flavour. I would  prefer a grilled portobello mushroom with 2 types of melted cheese to give it more dimension of taste and texture instead.

JWLK2574 (HOTEL JEN-Vegetarian Burger)

Grilled Burger with Vegetarian Patty

Pan Fried Stuff Aubergine (RM45 nett), pan fried aubergine halves topped with cheese and Provencal herbs slow baked in oven, then served with smoked tomato Napoli sauce. Light earthy flavours with a smoky and tangy taste pairing.

JWLK2583 (HOTEL JEN-PanFried Stuff Aubergine)

Pan Fried Stuff Aubergine

Chicken Rosmarino (RM53 nett), golden brown rosemary oil marinated spring chicken served with balsamic pepper jus. Savoury, sweet, peppery and a dash of acidity in taste was the chicken and sauce.

JWLK2589 (HOTEL JEN-Chicken Rosmarino)

Chicken Rosmarino

Lamb Osso Buco (RM58 nett), 400gm veal shanks braised in broth with vegetables and balsamic vinegar till tender then served with homemade mash potato instead of Polenta. This Milanese specialty was meaty sweet, zesty and rich in flavour. Polenta would have been the best compliment, but the smooth creamy mash did quite well too.

JWLK2613 (HOTEL JEN-Lamb Osso Buco)

Lamb Osso Buco

Baked Trapia (RM48nett), baked in aluminium pouched, the fish is steamed in its own juices with tomato coulis, fresh herbs, onion, olives and capers. Tangy, savoury with hint of sweetness were the flavours. Though farmed for its sustainability, the trapia had great texture and taste.

JWLK2571 (HOTEL JEN-Baked Trapia)

Baked Trapia

Tiramisu Pancake (RM20 nett), layers of fluffy pancakes and an espresso, mascarpone, egg and cream concoction, served with espresso butterscotch sauce, dusting of cocoa powder and brandy snap. Smooth and cooling the texture with creamy rich and bitter sweet taste.

JWLK2634 (HOTEL JEN-Tiramisu Pancake)

Tiramisu Pancake

Jen’s Signature (RM18 nett), ice-cream, chocolate and caramel sauce served with pickled fruits. Sweet dark taste balanced with sharp tangy fruity taste.

JWLK2639 (HOTEL JEN-Jens Signature)

Jen’s Signature

Hotel Jen Penang
Address: Magazine Road, George Town, 10300 Penang.
Tel: 04 2622622
Business Hours: 6.30am – 11pm.

P.S: Thanks to Hotel Jen Penang for extending this invitation.


7 Wonders of Pizza Promotion By Italiannies

Posted by Jason Wong On October - 16 - 2013ADD COMMENTS

It was in June 2013 that we first cross path with Italiannies in Gurney Paragon when we were invited to sample their “Festa della Pasta Promotion“, this time round our paths meet again for their “7 Wonder of Pizza Promotion”.  Available for a limited time, until 31st October 2013 the end of the year (2013),  the pizza promotion aims at introducing 7 new varieties of unique pizzas that is said to give foodies, especially pizza fans, an opportunity to try  and taste some interesting and uncommon pizza topping combinations and flavours.

The 7 Wonders of Pizza promotion hopes to excite pizza lovers nationwide by introducing the new and exciting Specialty pizzas, variety is the spice of life. The new pizza dishes feature rich toppings harmoniously prepared together with other fresh ingredients on Italiannies’ traditional artisan thin pizza crust. “It is with effort and strive, Italianies hopes to be food lovers’ choice place for the best pizza in town,” said Andrea Rossi, Regional Manager for Italiannies.

Throughout the promotion period, Italiannies will also be offering one of a classic Italian dessert, Panna Cotta, and Mountain Dew Pitch Black with citrus grape flavour, to complement this pizza extravaganza. Customers will receive a complimentary glass of Mountain Dew Pitch Black with any order of the 7 Wonder pizzas, after which you could purchase a second glass bottomless at RM5++.

Seafood Pesto Pizza (RM39.90), Cajun spiced prawns with a pesto base topped with tomatoes, chopped yellow and red capsicum, mozzarella cheese and arugula. It’s crust had a nice fluffy yet crisp texture and the topping had a hint of tingling spiciness, but the prawns were slightly over salty for our liking.
Sicilian Pizza (RM24.90), Romaine lettuce with Sicilian dressing topped with grilled chicken, anchovies and Parmesan cheese. The crust was fragrant and crisp. The saltiness of the anchovies and creaminess from the alfredo sauce were well balanced with the juicy, light and refreshing Romaine lettuce. And ending with an inkling of spiciness from the garlic. It was one of our two favourites.Spicy Smoked Duck Pizza with Buffalo Mozzarella (RM39.90), sliced smoked duck breast, Buffalo Mozzarella cheese, fresh red chillies/chilli padi, arugula and Pomodoro sauce. The second out of our two favourites, the chilli padi (birds eye chilli) though delivers a punch but is not too hot, with the nutty (pine nut like) and bittersweet taste of arugula compliments well with the tangy Pomodoro or tomato sauce.Barbeque Smoked Duck Pizza (RM35.90), smoked duck breast with a barbeque base topped with peaches, onions, chilli flakes, mozzarella cheese and arugula. It had very Asian flavours, heat and mustard taste, but the sweetness of the peaches cuts through the smokiness of the smoked duck.Roasted Chicken with Hot Sauce Pizza (RM39.90), shredded roasted chicken with hot sauce, marinated black beans, tomatoes, arugula and topped with Buffalo Mozzarella cheese. It has Mediterranean influences flavours; earthy creamy beans, smoky chicken and spicy hot sauce to combine the flavours with arugula for the hint of bittersweetness and Mozzarella for a lighter touch of taste.Baby Shrimps Pizza (RM34.90), sauteed baby shrimps, arugula and lemon wedges. With only salt and pepper, the baby shrimps were sautéed to al-dente texture. The arugula and lemon wedges add additional flavour to the otherwise light tasting pizza, the lemony tartness penetrates through the hints of fishiness and bittersweet and nutty arugula adds a layer of flavour.Roman Vegetarian Pizza (RM31.90), fresh spinach, tomatoes, Kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, fresh garlic topped with Mozzarella cheese with Alfredo sauce base. Though light in taste, it was not a boring piece. It had unique layers of texture with earthy, salty, tangy and sweet flavours held up with the creamy Alfredo base.

Participating outlets:
• The Curve, Mutiara Damansara
• The Gardens Mall, Mid Valley City
• Empire Shopping Gallery, Subang Jaya
• Paradigm Mall, Petaling Jaya
• Gurney Paragon, Penang

For more information, please visit www.italiannies.com.my.

Our overall experience:
  • 3.5/5 (Good)
  • We especially like the Sicilian  Pizza and Spicy Smoked Duck Pizza.
  • The pizza crust was fragrant and different, I guess it was the semolina.
  • Baby Shrimp Pizza was not as attractive as the other six were to us, two . 
  • 3.5/5 (Good)
  • The pizza crust had good texture, crisp and not hard nor dry.
  • 3.5/5 (Good)
  • This time round their staff were basically more attentive.
  • 4.0/5 (Good)
  • The dining area was neat and clean.
  • 3.5/5 (Good)
  • Cosy and homely with alfresco seatings.
  • 3.0/5 (Average)
  • The pasta prices are more or less on the average with other Italian or specialty pasta restaurants.
  • 3.5/5 (Good)
  • Portion wise is that the toppings were generous, and the pizza size is most suitable for 2 person sharing with some additional side orders to perk up the meal..
  • 3.5/5 (Good)
  • Good quality toppings, we especially like the arugula on all the varieties, smoked duck breast and roasted chicken.
  • N/A.

–Please proceed to bottom for updates–

“A’more di merrier” is Italiannies’ shared presentation menu concept, great food and good times are meant to be shared amongst the company of family and friends. Their dishes are designed for sharing, and their large portions allows you to sample many different tastes while enjoying the family style dining of Italy.

Boast for serving authentic Italian dishes with great complementing wines, Italiannies is at this moment introducing eight new pasta dishes in its ‘Festa della Pasta’ promotion. The new pasta dishes provide local pasta lovers the chance to savour a selection of authentic pasta recipes originating from the various regions of Italy. The promotion runs from now until the end of June 2013, but if the demand is overwhelming it might be extended.

A recent media launch held at Italiannies in Gurney Paragon Mall, Penang gave us an opportunity to understand the flavours and textures behind the selection of pasta for the promotion, and a first hand look at handmade pastas that are used for their dishes.

The ‘abbondanza’ or sharing portion and free flow of specially paired wines gave us the chance to try 5 out of the 8 pastas offered for this month long pasta promotion.

Starting the food tasting in motion was their ‘Mediterranean Salad’, moist and tender grilled chicken breast, black olives, tomatoes, onions, rocket leaves and romaine lettuce served with a generous amount of their Italian dressing. The salad was refreshing, sweet with hint tanginess and richness.

Another appetiser was their ‘Gamberi Con Aglio’, firm and tender shrimps cooked with dried red chillies, black olives and tomatoes served with garlic bread on the side to mop up the spicy and lemony sauce.

The pasta tasting kicked off with their Cannelloni, tubular pastas stuffed with spinach and artichoke filling and served with homemade marinara sauce topped with melted Mozzarella cheese and béchamel sauce. The pasta is to be paired with Alois Lageder Riff Rosso Vigneti Dolomiti, a red wine with intense fruity flavours with mild acidity. The Cannelloni was created by Chef Nicola Federico in Sorrento Italy in 1907, and was originally called ‘strascinati’ and only gained popularity during World War II, when residents of Naples fled to Sorrento.

Paccheri con Ragú, large, hollow, tube-shaped pasta served with a traditional meat based sauce and Parmesan cheese. It is to be paired with, again,  Alois Lageder Riff Rosso Vigneti Dolomiti to compliment the ragú’s rich beefy taste and the sweetness of the tomato sauce. The shape of paccheri pasta is from Campania Italy and is similar in shape to the rigatoni, but paccheri are shorter and have a larger diameter. A Ragú is an Italian word for any meat-based sauce, derived from the French word ‘ragouter’,  which means to revive the taste.

Tagliatelle con Salvia, Funghi e Popettine, handmade tagliatelle pasta sauteed with lemon, shiitake mushrooms and homemade beef meatballs. The savoury and lemony with a hint spice is to be paired with Alois Lageder Riff Rosso Vigneti Dolomiti. Tagliatelle (from the Italian tagliare which means “to cut”) is a traditional type of pasta from Emilia-Romagna and Marche, regions of Italy. Individual pieces of tagliatelle should be long, flat ribbons that looks similar in shape to fettuccine and are typically about 6.5 mm to 10 mm in width.

Tagliatelle con Pesto al Pomodoro, handmade plain and spinach (straw & hay) tagliatelle pasta cooked with green pesto and served with sweet, firm choped tomatoes, grated Parmesan cheese and toasted pine nuts. The fresh, herby and nutty pasta is to be paired with Adesso Nero D’Avola IGT Sicilia, a red wine with pleasant notes of mulberry and plum.

Mussels & Clams Lombardi con Pappardelle, pappardelle pasta cooked with clams and mussels in a white wine sauce. The light tasting pasta was paired with Alois Lageder Riff Pinot Grigio Venezie, a white wine with fresh apple aromas and a delicate spiciness; fresh, flavorful and focused. Pappardelle are large and broad flat pasta noodles that looks like the the wide fettuccine. The fresh types are two to three centimetres wide and may have fluted edges and dried ones have straight sides, it is traditionally served with very rich, heavy sauces, especially sauces which include game such as wild boar.

At the end of the sampling, we were served with their “Italian Trifle”, made with layers of Mascarpone, Ladyfinger biscuits and topped with dark chocolate powder and chocolate chips. It was a light and easy dessert but my favourite of that particular night was their signature Tiramisu, an Italian pick-me-up, which was not in the list.

Italiannies’ Tiramisu was light, fluffy, well chilled and most importantly utilises Espresso instead of normal brewed coffee.

*We have yet to sample the remaining 3 pastas, Fileja con Pomodoro e Basilico, Tortellini con Salmone ed Aneto and Fusilli con Spinaci ed Alfredo sauce.

Our overall experience:
  • 3.5/5 (Good)
  • The dishes were mostly well prepared and well paired with wines that complement the flavour notes.
  • The Mediterranean Salad dressing was pleasant and flavourful, it brought out the sweetness of the greens and balanced the richness and saltiness of the goats cheese.
  • The only dish that we did not really appreciate was their Mussels & Clams Lombardi con Pappardelle, it lacked that seafood sweetness and flavour.
  • The pasta we most enjoyed would be the Paccheri con Ragú, Cannelloni and Tagliatelle con Salvia, Funghi e Popettine.
  • 3.5/5 (Good)
  • The pastas were al-dente, with good texture.
  • Mediterranean Salad’s greens were crisp and chicken cutlets tender, but one of the pieces were slightly too pinkish for my liking.
  • N/A as it is an invited review event, but the staffs at hand were quite helpful.
  • 4.0/5 (Good)
  • The dining area was neat and clean.
  • 3.5/5 (Good)
  • Cosy and homely with alfresco seatings.
  • N/A as the portions were sharing portion, thus it does not represent the actual serving.
  • N/A as the portions were sharing portion, thus it does not represent the actual serving.
  • N/A as the portions were sharing portion, thus it does not represent the actual serving.
  • N/A.

Add: Lot 1-31, Ground Floor, Gurney Paragon Mall, Penang
Tel : +604 228 9761

There is stiil time to check out their Festa Della Pasta promotion for lunch and dinner:
Lunch promotion
A lunch promotion from the Festa Della Pasta menu includes a top of up RM6 for a choice of pasta and a choice of either a salad (Insalata Verde), a dessert (chocolate brownie) or a glass of Pepsi that will be served from 11am till 3pm.

Dinner promotion
The dinner promotion from the same Festa Della Pasta menu includes a top up of RM16, for a choice of pasta, and a choice of an entrée (Gamberi con Aglio), a salad (Insalata Mediterranea) or a dessert (Italian Trifle), which is applicable for dinner service that commences 6pm onwards.

–Updates on 25th June 2013–

Just last week (Thursday the 20th of June) we were back at Italiannies Gurney Paragon Mall Penang to sample the last 3 pastas that we haven’t tried and to re-sample their Mussels & Clams Lombardi con Pappardelle, which we did not really feel justice was given to the dish during the previous visit. For this try, the Mussels & Clams Lombardi con Pappardelle were well executed, with sufficient sweetness and a savouriness to taste,  and the seafood was firm and tender to feel.

Fusilli con Spinaci ed Alfredo sauce (RM22.90), fusilli pasta sauteed with chicken breast in a light alfredo sauce and served with fried crisp spinach and chopped walnuts on top. The savoury pasta with hints of spice and nutty flavours are to be paired with Adesso Inzolia IGT Sicilia. Fusilli is a diminutive of fuso, the Italian word for “spindle”. It is traditionally the pasta is “spun” by pressing and rolling a small rod over each thin strip of pasta to wind them around it in a corkscrew shape.

Fileja con Pomodoro e Basilico (RM18.90), fileja pasta sauteed with fresh tomato puree and cherry tomato and served with Parmesan cheese and fresh basil. The pasta dish was tart but at the same time sweet and fresh, accentuating from the basil and tomato combination. Remember to let the residual heat of the pasta to warm and wilt the basil leaves to release the aroma and taste. The dish is to be paired with Adesso Inzolia IGT Sicilia or Adesso Nero D’Avola IGT Sicilia. Fileja is traditionally from  Calabria in southern Italy, they are eggless pasta rolled by hand using a thin metal rod or skewer.

Tortellini con Salmone ed Aneto (RM26.90), spinach and ricotta filled tortellini pasta sauteed with smoked salmon, fresh dill and capers in an alfredo sauce served with with smoked salmon rosettes. The pasta was rich, creamy, smoky with hint of tartness from the capers, it is to be paired with Alois Lageder Riff Pinot Grigio Venezie. The “belly button” like Tortellini is originally from the Italian region of Emilia, in particular Bologna and Modena.

Our overall experience:
  • 4.0/5 (Good)
  • Their Mussels & Clams Lombardi con Pappardelle, was savoury sweet and the mussels were firm and tender.
  • The taste and ingredient were well complimented with the type of pasta to carry the flavours.
  • 3.5/5 (Good)
  • The pastas were al-dente, with good texture.
  • The Tortellini con Salmone ed Aneto filling may be slight sandy/powdery due to the cheese’s texture, but was considered normal.
  • The smoke salmon were fine and mussel were firm and tender.
  • Not as attentive as it should be apart from the attention to detail by their manager, Jerry.
  • 4.0/5 (Good)
  • The dining area was neat and clean.
  • 3.5/5 (Good)
  • Cosy and homely with alfresco seatings.
  • 3.0/5 (Average)
  • The pasta prices are more or less on the average with other Italian or specialty pasta restaurants.
  • 3.5/5 (Good)
  • The single serving portion will be filling depending on the type of pasta you order.
  • It would be good to increase the pasta portion for a more hearty meal.
  • 3.5/5 (Good)
  • With a better pasta texture and flavours and accompanying ingredient quality, it should be considered value for the price.
  • N/A.

IL BACARO, Traditional Venetian Dishes

Posted by Jason Wong On January - 11 - 2012ADD COMMENTS

Located in Campbell House, an old vacant run down pre-war building turned new breed of heritage hotel, Il Bacaro is a traditional Venetian street tavern which serves authentic Italian dishes in a nostalgic setting with black and white photos of the owners’ childhood memories.

Roberto Dreon is the owner cum Chef of the hotel and restaurant. Like most Italians, the emphasis on freshest ingredients only has “forced” the kitchen to make and serve freshly baked breads, handmade pasta varieties and their homemade sauces and gravies. All the cooking, baking and roasting is all done in their fully equipped kitchen that even has a custom built wood fired oven. Supporting Roberto is Nardya Wray who is also the co-owner of this cosy restaurant and hotel.

First up was their self baked bread served in a Chinese bamboo steamer with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The bread was soft and fluffy with a slight chewiness, the olive oil was fresh and buttery and the balsamic was sweet and tangy.

For salads, we had their Rocket Salad with Poached Pear & Goat’s Cheese. It is a medium salad with loads of bitter nutty Rocket leaves dressed in a caramel flavoured balsamic vinaigrette, thick slices of light and creamy goat’s cheese and generous portions of sweet tender poached pears in red wine.

For pizza we had their White Pizza with Rucola, Cherry Tomatoes, Egg and Parmigiano. The crusty pizza base was thick and firm with a slight smoky taste plastered with a luxurious coating of fragrantly baked cheese topped with fresh bitter sweet Rucola, juicy cherry tomatoes, a smooth and rich sunny side up egg and sprinkles of shaved savoury Parmesan cheese.

Main courses, we had their Pan Seared Salmon with Green Beans and Orange & Saffron Sauce and Homemade Tagliolini Siciliana. The Catch of the Day came in the form of a tender medium-rare steak of salmon that has been lightly seared and served on a bed of crisp sweet green beans and fruity orange and saffron sauce. Texture contrast was firm meat, crisp beans and smooth sauce.

The other main we had was Homemade Tagliolini Siciliana. Well cooked homemade Tagliolini pasta served with their homemade tomato base Siciliana pasta sauce which was tart with a hint of sweetness that came from the fresh tomatoes used to prepare the Spanish, Greek and Arab influenced sauce.

Final course of the day was their Panna Cotta with Strawberry Coulis dessert. The firm and smooth milky Panna Cotta pudding served chilled with a thick room temperature strawberry purée sauce that was acidulous with a sweet end was pleasing to our taste buds and comforting after a heavy meal. 

Our overall experience:

Taste 3.5/5 (Good) Liked the natural and contrast of flavours and used of fresh ingredients.
Texture 3.5/5 (Good) There were multitude of texture in each dish which gives a different experience on each mouthful.
Service 3.5/5 (Good) Friendly and courteous.
Cleanliness 3.5/5 (Good) Clean but due to its location flies are around during day time dining.
Atmosphere 4.0/5 (Good) A nostalgic ambiance.
Price 3.0/5 (Average) Averagely priced.
Portion 3.5/5 (Good) Portions were quite fulfilling.
Value 3.5/5 (Good) Good ingredients were provided with right portions.
Consistency  N/A

Campbell House

  • Add: 106 Lebuh Campbell, 10100 Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia
  • Tel:  +60 (4) 2618290
  • Email:  info@campbellhousepenang.com

Open  daily

  • 12.00pm-3.00pm Lunch Menu
  • 3.00pm-6.30pm Light Snacks & Drinks Menu
  • 6.30pm-10.30pm Dinner Menu













Spasso Milano, An Italian Experience in Straits Quay

Posted by Jason Wong On November - 23 - 20112 COMMENTS

This is not a review, but we would like to share something worth sharing! We were invited by Spasso Milano’s PR company to an individual food sampling session just after it open its doors for business somewhere in September 20111. What was suppose to be a simple quite diner ended up becoming a gathering of bloggers, Tasteiest & All About Penang Food, sharing good food with good service and company.

Spasso’s (Straits Quay) kitchen is currently being run by an Italian import who strives to keep the authentic flavours of Italian-Milan cooking alive in a foreign country where pleasing local flavour paradigms are still very much alive. Chef Felice Martinelli, a 42-year-old Milanese even goes to the extra mile by specially sourcing and importing ingredients and produce, such as hand-made artisan pasta and Italian savoury jams to delight diners with the experience of dining in Italy. When asked, Felice answered with a serious smile, “I will only cook authentic Italian fare, and will never mix elements of other cuisines, or compromise on the quality of ingredients, just to appeal to the mass crowd. When you follow time-honoured recipes, using the original ingredients, you get amazing dishes bursting with flavours” With that in mind, we were expecting something that will tantalizer our senses and not to be put off by “localised” Italian dishes.

We started off with their “Porcini Soup” (RM18.80) that is made with 100% Porcini mushroom and drizzled with White Truffle oil before serving. It had a strong earthy mushroom taste that ends with a light sweetness and a bit of sour sensation. We also ‘accidentally’ had “Asparagus Soup” (RM16.80) which was strong in asparagus taste profiles that were quite refreshing. Then we were served with “Smoked Duck Breast” (RM23.00), sliced home-smoked duck breast, avocado and salad greens dressed with Hazelnut oil. The smoky and tender duck breast and smooth buttery avocado produced a “ying yang” sort texture. And the Hazelnut oil lent some additional flavours which did not interfere with the main stars of the dish. Still on appetisers, we had their “Pan-fried Goose Liver & Porcini”. The goose liver was lightly fried with some caramelizing that added flavour and texture to the soft creamy texture. The nutty and mild bitterness of the rocket leafs with the sweet tangy grapes and balsamic reduction mellowed the richness of the fatty liver.

Then we also had the Tuna Tartar that was made with freshly diced tuna and tomatoes that was quite light to the palate. But to have it with other heavy flavoured dishes would defeat its light taste profiles.

After appetisers, we moved on to pizza made their Italian way with a fully imported domed in shape wood oven with terracotta base that will evenly transfer the heat and maintain a good temperature for cooking. “Trutti Di Mare” pizza with assorted seafood was ready just within a few minutes in the 400 Celsius hot oven fuelled by natural wood flames. The pizza was evenly baked with a crisp but yet fluffy base topped with good quality cheese that were not too oily and ingredients that were still juicy and tasty with a slight smoky taste.

Normally risotto is eaten as a primo or first course of the meal, that faithful day it was already the third or fourth course of the evening. The “Mushroom and Truffle Risotto” (RM28.00) was one of our favourites of the night. Made from Carnaroli rice, a medium-grained rice native to the Vercelli province of northern Italy, and cooked in their homemade broth with lots of mushrooms and shavings of black truffles. The texture of the risotto was fluffy with a starchy consistency; taste was earthy and sweet to every spoonful.

Pastas are a must in any Italian joint. Opting for a better grade of pastas, we had a go at their imported dehydrated handmade Durum wheat or Macaroni wheat pasta that was cooked al-dente. If one is not used to the firmer and rough texture of the durum wheat paste, you could still get the usual pastas that are available everywhere. Sauces we had with the pasta was a tomato base and a cream base which were both quite flavourful in their unique way.

The highlight of my night was Spasso’s Hearty Italian Wagyu Rib Eye Grill RM138 for a 250gm slab of fat fill piece of beefy meat cooked until medium. The well seasoned and charred Wagyu rib eye was juicy tender to very last cut and good on its owned, without any sauce of gravy.

Secondi Wagyu Rib Eye Aromatica (RM138) is a meal on its own. The herb crusted Rib Eye was tender and moist with multi-layers of taste coming from the crust and also from the Wagyu beef. Though the herbs overwhelms the natural flavours of the Wagyu rib eye, it presents layers of taste profile with a crusty mouth feel that would be fitting people who are looking for some interesting flavours. The side dishes of roasted rosemary baby potato and Sicilian caponata blended well with heavy tasting rib eye. After all the heavy savoury stuff it was time for desserts, we had Tiramisu, Chocolate Lava Cake and Panna Cotta. Each and every dessert had its own characters and specialty, but what I personally like the most was the Tiramisu.  At RM18.80 per serving, the espresso soaked Savoiardi biscuit was the base for the rich Mascarpone cream topped with bitter sweet coco powder. Though there hints of liquor taste in the Tiramisu, we were told none was used. It is the process and method that produces that “alcoholic” sensation.

“Chocolate Lava Cake” (RM18.80) was freshly baked warm chocolate cake filled with rich dark liquid gold served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The strong bitter sweet taste of the melted chocolate filling and the soft spongy cake and cold ice-cream was sinfully satisfying after a great meal.The Panna Cotta (RM14.80) is made from fresh cream solidify with gelatine served chilled with mixed berry coulis. The sweet tangy berry sauce cut through the rich creamy pudding to balance taste and mouth feel that close the evening meal in an even note. 

Taste 4.5/5 (Must Try) Liked the natural and authentic Italian flavours.
Texture 4.5/5 (Must Try) Great texture in the risotto, pasta, Wagyu and deserts.
Service 4.0/5 (Good) The senior staffs are well verse with dishes and ingredients and are able to give suggestions and advice. Friendly and polite too.
Cleanliness 4.5/5 (Very Good) Clean and neat dining area and kitchen area.
Atmosphere 4.0/5 (Good) Relaxing, cooling and cosy ambiance.
Price 3.5/5 (Good) Some of the items are on the high side due to the quality provided.
Portion 3.5/5 (Good) Depending on dishes, on average it is quite fulfilling.
Value 4.0/5 (Good) Prices won’t be cheap but quality of ingredients, techniques, presentation, service, atmosphere and location can cover for it.
Consistency 4.0/5 (Good) Have been back a few times; service and food are well maintained.

Add: 3C-G-2, Block C, Ground Floor, Straits Quay, Penang
Tel: +604-8912888
GPS Coordinates: N5 27.556 E100 18.800


P.S: Many thanks to http://tasteiest.blogspot.com for the photos that he has allowed me to use. Regret not bringing my DSLR on that day.


Invited Sampling of Bravo Italiana

Posted by Jason Wong On December - 31 - 20103 COMMENTS


Back on 13th November 2010 we were tasked to assist in the organising of an event for Bravo Italiana by RoundU, which we did and the event went through quite successfully although there were initial fears that the sampling would bore negative feedbacks after reading about some minor complaints on the internet and hearing rumours from a prominent food blogger from Penang.  If possible, we would try to upload the raw recording of the question and answer session that the bloggers had with owner cum chef to further understand his stand and concept of his restaurant and also how his food is made.

Below are the raw recording of the question and answer session that the bloggers had with owner cum chef to further understand his stand and concept of his restaurant


The sampling event was different from the review session that was organised by Penang Tua Pui which was attended by many prominent Penang food bloggers back in year 2009.  The current sampling event was meant to provide direct feedback to the business owner on the quality and value of the surveyed items and thus help improve on the marketability of the items through the experiences, different backgrounds and taste preferences of the attending bloggers. The programme is operated by RoundU with a goal to promote the deserving quality F&B outlets in Penang to the consumer market.

Italian cuisine in itself takes heavy influences, including Etruscan, ancient Greek, ancient Roman, Byzantine, Jewish and Middle-East cuisines. But in the 18th century Italian cuisine as we know took on some significant changes with the discovery of the New World that introduced items such as potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers and maize to Italian cooks, and which have become a major part of what Italians eat now a days. Recipes or what people eat are influence by the available ingredients, thus there is distinctive difference with the taste and texture of dishes of Italian cooking by region. Therefore it is hard or very subjective to point out the rights and wrongs of any dish. It all comes down to the taste profile or preference that one has grown up with.

Like any other dining culture in the world, Italy also has its variety in eating etiquettes, style or establishments. They are basically classified by the service, food and drinks they served to their customers.

  • Agriturismo – or agritourism is a functioning farm / farmhouses that provide lodging and meals.
  • Osteria – a night eatery that usually has a verbal menu that mainly caters to simple regionalised dishes.
  • Paninoteca – their sandwich or Panini shop.
  • Pizzeria – pizza shop.
  • Ristorante – a upscale restaurant with proper dining and menu.
  • Spaghetteria – a pasta and main course serving eatery.
  • Trattoria – a family or home-style eatery that provides inexpensive and casual dining experience.

Bravo Italiana is said to be based on the trattoria-style dining concept were the chef cum owner have gain most of his experience in his 8 years stint in Italy. This restaurant was established on 3rd November 2008, but before this they were involved in the “Little Kitchen” restaurant at Bandar Sunway, Penang for nine (9) years.

The sampling session was planned for a survey of 13 items or dishes but due to the amount available, there were some impromptu changes during the event. It began at around 3pm as requested by Mr. Ng, the time coincide with the restaurant’s in between service hours break time. The sampling started with a photo taking session and followed by the sampling of their starters continued with mains and desserts plus a set lunch item.


Bruschetta (RM8.80+), toasted baguettes topped with diced tomato, capsicum, herbs and cheese. It was a twist from the usual bruschetta that normally has a lighter topping that is without cheese.

Taste – Savory and cheesy at first then followed with the refreshing sweet juice of tomatoes, peppery flavour of the capsicums and finished with the aroma of the sprinkled herbs.

Texture – Crisp baguette surface with a moist centre and tender yet firm toppings.


Grilled Chicken Salad (RM17.00+), strips of grilled chicken on top of a garden of fresh greens and fruits dressed with their in-house vinaigrette. The portions is generous enough for a light meal as its own for small eaters.

Taste – There were some complaints that the dressing was a a tad to acidic for their liking. But the chicken was well seasoned and the green were sweet with some bitterness due to the purple cabbage.

Texture – The chicken strips or slices were over dehydrated as it had been waiting for the sampling to begin, that is why in Chinese food culture it is always emphasized  that food has to be taken while it is fresh from the grill. Salad greens were crunchy and fresh.


Baked Oyster Vesuvio (RM31.80+ for half dozen), medium size halved shell oyster coated and lightly fried, then topped with mushroom slices tomato and capsicum chunks, crumbs and cheese  then baked. When serve hot, it had a pungent aroma of Chinese dried oyster.

Taste – It had sweet, savory and diary taste  with a pungent  fragrance sun dried oyster. Not too over powering in the taste factor.

Texture – There were a slight crunch on the surface due to the baked crumbs on top of the melted cheese mixture and firm cooked oyster flesh.  But there was a slight more of oily feeling from the melting cheese.


Lasagne Al Forno (RM24.00+), three (3) layers of lasagne pasta interlaced with their beef bolognese sauce and topped with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese and baked.

Taste – It was meaty, savory and creamy rich with a predominantly sweet aftertaste, that a few bloggers find a bit too sweet for their liking. For sure I would prefer something with a more balance flavour.

Texture – Grainy mince meat with good ratio of lean meat to fats. And the pasta sheets were just nice in texture, not soggy nor under cooked.


Lamb Shank (RM32.00+), braised NZ lamb shank in red wine with fresh Italian herbs, garlic and mushrooms.

Taste – It was different from the normal strong peppery tasting versions, we could actually taste the red wine and lamb flavours in the gravy. And it was one of the favourite dishes of the day although few did comment that it had a hint more of the “lamb” taste in the meat. But what is lamb without the hint of “lammy” flavours?

Texture – The meat was tender and firm.


Spaghetti Capitano (RM29.80+), spaghetti with fresh shrimps, scallops, mussels, squids and diced salmon, sauteed in a delightful marinara sauce.

Taste – Salmon was slightly heavy on taste (the fatty salmon taste) and the muscles had a bit of  fishy aftertaste, but the scallops and squid rings were sweet and juicy.

Texture – Muscles, scallop, squid and salmon were firm and tender, pasta was just nice in texture.


Pesce Misto alla Milanese Dinner Set (RM43.00+), it will be a new item for the dinner set menu. The grilled salmon and jumbo prawns dressed in a classic Milanese sauce comes with soup of the day,  drinks (lavazza coffee / tea / ice lemon tea) and dessert of the day.

Taste – Prawns were well seasoned and finely grilled with much of its flavours and moisture still locked in, as for the salmon it was slightly off their standard as it (the portion we had) had been “modeling” for the shutter bugs. The Milanese sauce was flavourful with the abundance of herbs and had a balanced richness. And the accompanying mash was every bit savory with the cheese stuffing within.

Texture – The prawn flesh was firm and tender with some crunch,  salmon was flaky but slightly dehydrated. The accompanying fried mash was crisp on the surface and fluffy inside.


Chicken Parmigiana lunch set (RM25.00+), is a piece of of deboned whole chicken leg batter fried, top with their tomato sauce and cheese then baked and served with a side spaghetti pasta.  The lunch set comes with a bowl of  soup of the day, a drink (coffee / tea / ice lemon tea) and a single scoop of ice-cream.

Taste – no comments as this dish was not included during the tasting session as most of the attendees were already filled to the brim, and that was before dessert.

Texture – N/A


Pizza alla Sicilian (RM32.00+), include toppings of beef pepperoni, chicken sausages, onions, green capsicums and black olives.

Taste – The pizza was cheesy and full of the flavours of the toppings, e.g. smoky, peppery, sourish, sweet, diary and rich.

Texture – The topping ingredients were still firm and not mushy, but the dough or crust was too crisp like baked biscuits. Many of the bloggers commented that they would prefer to have a softer pizza center.


On the plan were 4 desserts, but we had a extra surprise in the form of their home-made pumpkin pie.


Tiramisu (RM12.80+), very rich in liquor and chocolate flavours with un-overwhelming sweetness. The accompanying peaches lent some acidity to balance the creamy taste of the dessert. One of the few well orchestrated tiramisu that we have encountered.


Tequila Key Lime Pie (RM8.90+), tequila infused whipped cream covered the limy cheese filling of the Oreo cookie based pie. There were some feedback that it was a tad sharp on the sourness, but it settle well with my preferences.


Italiana Mousse (RM12.80+), is a new item to be included in their desserts menu. Rich in chocolaty goodness but stiff on the texture. Feedback from the owner is that there were request for a firm texture for this desert.


Bravo Zabaglione (RM12.80+), also in the new desserts menu list. It is actually an Italian custard made of egg yolks, sugar, a sweet wine. Over at Bravo Italiana, they have layered it on top of a base soaked in apricot liquor that to many tasted like almonds. It is dessert for those who appreciate good liquor as it is pretty strong in alcohol.


Pumpkin Pie (RM12.80+), is also new as we were told. And was an ad-hoc item that was included for the sampling. It had earthy flavours and sweet aftertaste. which was not overwhelming. But the walnut topping tasted a bit rancid although it was bought fresh from the supplier.

Our overall rating for Bravo Italiana:

Taste 3.0/5 (Above Average) Most of the dishes sampled had sparked our interest, but there a few that still could be better executed. We were expecting Italian flavours

Bruschetta, baked oyster, lamb shank, Pesce Misto alla Milanese and Desserts are must tries.

Texture 3.0/5 (Above Average)
Service NA/5 It was an invited event, thus service would not be in consideration for now.
Cleanliness 4.0/5 (Good) Clean and neat dining area and well kept toilets.
Atmosphere 3.5/5 (Average) Warm and cosy ambiance, but lack space. Good for small gathering, but not conducive for big groups above 20 pax.
Price 3.0/5 (Above Average) Certain set lunches are quite a bargain.
Portion 3.5/5 (Good) The restaurant is not stingy on the portioning of certain items but some may not equate to the price.
Value 3.0/5 (Above Average) Includes the consideration of quality and quantity plus concept delivery and consistency.

Other current session invitees with their choice selection(s):

Feedbacks from paid customers:

Bravo Italiana

Add : 01-01-11 Complex I-Avenue, Medan Kampung Relau 1, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Penang.

Business Hours : Tuesday to Sunday ( 11.30 a.m. – 3.00p.m., 6.00 p.m. – 10.00 p.m.) Closed on Mondays

Tel : 04-6410499

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