With the exception of Prime at Le Meridien KL (where the price was some fivefold what we had just paid), the ribeye steak at Ciccio was the best-cooked I’ve tasted in Malaysia. An extraordinary accolade to start this review with, but fully deserved.
The rest of the food was superb, also. It was easy to see why Ciccio has been on the Changkat Bukit Bintang block longer than many of its seemingly more prestigious and high-profile neighbours.
The truth is, even as Nerovivo continues to shine and the likes of Delucca, Chiaroscuro and Bar Italia make an immediate positive impact on the local Italian dining scene, Ciccio still stands proud. The quality of the food helps that, of course, and more of that in a moment, but a key weapon in its ‘Battle of the Italians’ must be its (cliché alert) rustic charm.
With branches and trees blocking your entrance and simple, unsophisticated décor, you could be forgiven for thinking Ciccio is a basic, no frills restaurant. I’m honest enough to admit those factors put me off eating there in favour of Nerovivo for a while. However, there is nothing basic about a menu that details a dozen types of bruschetta (crisp, fresh and pleasant, if a little soft on the base), soups, salads, and myriad main courses of sometimes outrageous individuality. Braised lamb shank with mint couscous may not sound that Italian but the execution works. And vodka in the fettucine al salmone is another new one on me, but there can be no complaints over the dish served; right up there, as it is, with the best in the city.
Helpfully for pasta snobs such as me, Ciccio separate the pasta dishes that have been homemade (such as the bombastic gnocchi in strong cheese sauce and delightful pumpkin ravioli with butter and sage sauce) and those which use dried pasta.
And, last but by no means whatsoever least, the pizzas. Oh my goodness me, the pizzas. Frankly, you can work out which you like for yourself but to leave you with one must-try, look out for the ‘tandoori’; bold chicken strips on their trademark stonebaked base are set off perfectly by small dollops of mascarpone – a touch of genius.
There’s a lot of competition when it comes to Italian restaurants in KL, but Ciccio deserves not to be forgotten under the branches of more apparently imposing outlets. When it comes to rustic, authentic Italian cuisine, Ciccio can mix it with the best of them. Matt Bellotti
Ciccio was shortlisted in the Best Italian Restaurant category of the Time Out KL Food Awards 2011 and 2012. Rudy Stecca was shortlisted in the Restauranteur of the Year category in 2010, and Ciccio was also shortlisted for Best Pizza in the 2009 awards. Our food awards are 100% voted for by the people of KL. This way, we guarantee that popularity and consistent performance is rewarded.
15 Changkat Bukit Bintang
|Opening hours:||Daily, 5pm-12midnight|