Last year, Italian food captured the hearts (and tummies) of KL-lites, hence we saw a flurry of homestyled trattorias, fine dining places and etc. flinging open their doors in the city. Recent closures like Il Divo and Chiaroscuro (they're looking for a new premises) make one wonder whether the city's "amore" with Italian fare is waning a little. Nevertheless for Italian stalwarts such as Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur's Favola, things are going strong with monthly specials and from I hear, a new menu is also in the works. It has been a while that I dined here that it was lovely to find aesthetic changes recently added to the restaurant - the nostalgic fable of Strega Nona and her enchanted pasta pot on the ceiling, the new bronze chandeliers hanging from the rustic wood-like ceiling and cosy little private dining rooms tucked on one side of the restaurant.
Even the menu sports new favourites, like this month's special, the decadent Kobe beef lasagna (RM108). Unlike their signature wagyu beef lasagna, which I felt the meat was overshadowed by the cheese and bechamel sauce, this dish boasts of seared melt-in-the-mouth Kobe beef slices tucked within loose layers of pasta sheets. A wisp of grated cheese and a hearty dose of a hearty tomato sauce round up the whole ensemble to give it a tummy warming sensation with a touch of decadence. Some changes have also been made to the menu as instead of the unusual seared sea scallops (RM45) with the faux risotto (made from cauliflower), they have replaced it with a lighter version that tops a cauliflower flan and sprinkled with jewel-like green and yellow zucchini cubes. I'm always partial to hearty soups hence I enjoyed their zuppa di pesce alla marina (RM35), chockfull of seafood and tomatoes even though one can't really taste the saffron within. The insalata di buffalo mozzarela e pesca alla giglia (RM35) with grilled peaches and locally made buffalo mozzarella went well with the peppery rocket and raddichio salad topped with shaven Pecorino cheese.
Comfort food is risotto, the creamy versions of course and I thoroughly enjoyed the risotto con cappesante (RM50) with seared sea scallops. A touch of softened leeks, lemon zest, chillies and basil adds a tinge of zing to the risotto to give it a difference. On the other side of the fence, the potato gnocchi and crab dumpling (RM40) wasn't a big hit with us since it did have a strong marine twang that didn't go so well with the roasted bell peppers coulis and Italian parsley foam. Instead, we found solace in the gamberetti ai pinoli (RM45), cappellini pasta tossed with seared prawns, chilli, garlic, parsely, pine nuts and mushrooms dressed simply in olive oil. A shake of the chilli peppers gave it all the zing it needed to make it a crowd pleaser. Being a big fan of Italian cookbook author Marcella Hazan, I was swayed by the crespelle di pollo (RM45) since she describes them beautifully in her books. This version is hearty with chicken, spinach and ricotta with a roasted Roma tomato sauce.
We end the meal with sweets. No wonder they say, life is sweet (la dolce vita) in Italian since they make wonderful tiramisu (RM30) soaked with Illy coffee and lashings of sweet mascarpone cheese. Chocolate lovers will enjoy their warm chocolate cake, budino di cioccolata (RM25) with the icy cold vanilla ice cream and divine chocolate sauce. On another occasion, we choose canoli (RM25), crispy sweet dough filled with chocolate and nougat mousse. While there's no trace of nougat, it's a pleasant dessert with the slightly tart fruit sauce served on the side.
Portions are hearty here so come with a big appetite or a large group to share. There's also a decadent beef consomme risotto to look forward to for March's special with foie gras cubes and oil (it's just the oil rendered from pan frying the duck liver). One must admit that an earlier visit yielded a heavy hand with the salt but this time round, my two visits here seems to prove that they have rectified that little issue hence the meal was thoroughly enjoyable.
Favola Italian Restaurant
Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur
Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur
Jalan Stesen Sentral
Tel: 03-2263 7888
(Pork Free. Antipasti and dessert buffet is available for RM98++ every Sunday. For more pictures see my Flickr set.)
Italian phrase, "Mangiare per vivere e non vivere per mangiare" means eat to live and not live to eat.
*Notice: The reviewer declares that part of this review was by invitation from the restaurant. Some items were paid for by the reviewer in the second visit to the restaurant.