A rising star in Section 17
PETALING JAYA, June 23 — There are at least three dishes at Verona Trattoria we are thinking of having again after eating at the Italian restaurant last week.
One is the Tagliatelle al Nero di Seppia, or squid ink tagliatelle with cherry tomatoes, black olives, basil and sauteed squid in wine sauce. The others are the Insalata Marinara or seafood salad, and the Vanilla Panna Cotta.
We added to that a pizza — the Siciliana — with a topping of anchovies, black olives, capers and tomato. Last week we had the Pork Salami and Pork Bacon Pizza, and thought there was too much meat on the pizza, though we liked the thin crust a lot.
The Siciliana rose to the occasion, with an exceptionally crispy crust. The back of the pizza was speckled brown, and the edges too. It exuded a delicious aroma from the “baked” anchovies and the mozzarella cheese. The saltiness of the anchovies was balanced by the capers and tomato; the black olives were an added bonus. I enjoyed every bite of this pizza.
We had started with the Insalata Marinara, with mussels, clams, prawns and squid sitting on a bed of mixed lettuces, cucumber and tomato, and tossed with a tangy orange dressing. The clams were fresh, fleshy and sweet but the prawns tasted boiled instead of having their flavours defined by sautéing. But overall the salad was pleasing.
I could just have the Squid Ink Tagliatelle and be immensely satisfied. Last week the aroma of the garlicky wine sauce, basil and the taste of the al dente squid ink pasta, cherry tomatoes, and the squid rings stayed in my mind. The sauce generously coated each strand of tagliatelle, the strong garlic coming through, with fiery shots from bits of cili padi. It was so good.
Last week too we had looked at the specials and ordered the Penne Puttanesca, Pork Salami and Pork Bacon Pizza, and the Roasted Pork Belly with rosemary pork gravy served with rock melon and mixed salad. We also had from the a la carte menu the Risotto with Saffron and three types of mushrooms.
The Penne Putanesca has anchovies, slices of grilled eggplant and cherry tomatoes in a zesty tomato sauce, lifted with a little chilli. The flavours are intense and are wrapped around the al dente penne pasta. I particularly liked the mushy eggplants smothered with the scrumptious sauce.
This restaurant is also about pork dishes. The Roasted Pork Belly we had was rather fatty but the crackling was very crispy and we liked that. At least the meat was served with a light rosemary sauce, big cubes of sweet rock melon and a salad.
I always look forward to risotto in an Italian restaurant. The Risotto with Saffron and three types of mushrooms had been recommended. It was a little light on saffron but the texture of the rice was perfect. It was expectedly creamy, and generous with the mushrooms.
On to the desserts: We shook the Vanilla Panna Cotta and it wobbled obligingly. It was superb, with tiny black specks from the vanilla pod delicately perfuming it. It embraced the palate with its soft creaminess and we loved it. It had no need of the chocolate sauce on the plate.
The Tiramisu was so light and creamy. Digging into the glass was an absolute delight, with the heady flavours of Italian Savioardi biscuits soaked in espresso and marsala wine, layered with mascarpone and fresh zabaglione cream, with the top layer lavishly dusted with chocolate powder. Tiramisu in a cup like what we had is not to be mistaken for the Tiramisu cake.
Chef/owner Enzo Dente gave us a Molten Lava Cake and a Steamed Banana Cake on the house. Both were memorable, especially the banana cake. I breathed in the delicious aroma of fresh banana as I ate the moist, warm cake.
When we went back again, we had the Sticky Date Pudding, but it did not hold a candle to this delightful banana cake.
The prices: The Insalata Marinara is RM22, Squid Ink Tagliatelle RM27, Tiramisu RM15, Vanilla Panna Cotta RM10, Roast Pork Belly RM38, Siciliana Pizza RM28, Penne Putanesca RM32.
Verona Trattoria is located at 8, Jalan 17/54, Section 17, Petaling Jaya. Tel: 03-7960 2890. Non-halal, it is closed on Tuesdays.