An Italian eatery might not be the most obvious business choice for a Malaysian-Chinese and Irish-Australian couple, but when your good mate also happens to be a stalwart of Italian food in the neighbourhood in which you are planning your new trattoria, then chances are you’re in good hands. And since the proprietors of Verona in Section 17 already owned and managed a restaurant in Indonesia prior to embarking on this venture, the decision suddenly doesn’t seem quite so unlikely or unpropitious.
Said friend and consultant Enzo Dente, chef-owner of SS2’s Buona Sera, hasn’t ventured far from home with the menu of Verona, and regulars to his restaurant will not be unjustified in drawing parallels between the two eateries. Take the neighbourhood in which it is located however, and the signature no-frills home cooking just- like-mama-usedto- make begins to make a lot of sense. Chef Isadora Chai’s Bistro à Table next door might be generating a lot of chatter with its deconstructed French cuisine, but when it comes to Italian food, experimental dishes just don’t enjoy the same indulgent tolerance by diners; in deepest suburbia, traditional Italian cooking wins hands down, every time.
Which is why Verona has been doing just fine. Well established staples like the bruschetta pomodoro, calamari fritto and napoletana pizza might not snatch any prizes in creativity, but when done well, and priced reasonably – as is the case at Verona – success can pretty much be guaranteed. And despite starting life halal, Verona’s recent inclusion of pork into the menu has not only been a canny strategy, but also a relief to lovers of carbonara, who no longer need suffer the indignity of beef bacon in their sauce. Indeed, the unapologetically fatty bacon pieces – more tile than lardon in size – play a prominent role in the success of the sauce, and it takes a lot of restraint not to order a second equally sinful portion. Equally outlandishly tasty, the spaghetti aglio olio marries the two ingredients that Malaysians love and cannot resist: fried pork belly and garlic. The result is a triumphantly vivacious pasta dish that will doubtless enjoy great popularity.
If you are able to, spare some thought for dessert. Quiveringly acquiescent and texturally delightful, the panna cotta holds its own against any five-star eatery, but it’s the zabaglione that justifiably steals the show. Juxtaposed with just the right measure of marsala wine, the divinely eggy zabaglione is frothy, perfectly aerated and unexpectedly partnered with mango sherbet. Whilst unconventional, the marriage yields flavours that are concomitantly salubrious, with a surfeit of verve.
Throw into the mix friendly price points, accommodating service and ample free street parking, and you’d be hard pressed to bet against the longevity of this restaurant. I certainly wouldn’t. Fay Khoo
|Venue name:||Verona Trattoria||Contact:|
8 Jalan 17/54
|Opening hours:||Tues-Sun, 12noon-2.30pm; 6pm-10pm|