That was exactly what the staff at Spasso Milano did; service was one of the best I’ve experienced in a while. The staff were friendly, well-trained and knew the menu inside out. They were not perfect; some minor slips such as a drip or two of wine happened. But they were quick to apologize and fixed whatever went wrong.
During my first visit last Thursday, I was so pleased with the food and service that I took rif there for dinner on Sunday. I returned again with a friend for lunch last Friday, and again the next day with my mum and rif — that’s 4 visits in less than 10 days!
The food was beautiful, uncomplicated and packed with flavour. It was that kind of simple Italian home cooking made attractive and a lot more approachable. Milan-born Chef Felice Martinelli wasn’t trying too hard, and I love him for that.
The antipasti buffet selection has been consistently good and it changes every day. I’ve tried the buffet three times, and my favourites were the grilled zucchini slices, mussels with tomatoes and herbs, mixed vegetables frittata, stuffed zucchini with mozzarella cheese and octopus salad. The spinach pie I had during my first visit was buttery, moist and crumbly with a creamy centre. Pumpkin soup is something I tend to skip, in favour of mushroom soup. But Chef Felice’s pumpkin soup was almost silky, with a lovely sweetness from the pumpkin. I had two bowls.
The octopus salad was a flavourful jumble of rocket leaves, onions, fresh herbs and octopus bits. Mum on the other hand liked the lively Caesar salad. The mussels were tangy and aromatic from the tomato and herbs, while the clams were sweet and meaty. rif liked the scallop (minced and mixed with some meat), but I didn’t care much for it. The meatballs in gravy had a bit too much flour and tasted a tad gummy to me.
Since we were a party of three, we opted to try all three of the main courses available that afternoon – grilled beef tenderloin with black pepper sauce, prawn tortellini with cream sauce and chicken fillet in herb sauce. The plump rings of tortellini was stuffed with minced prawns and topped with a light but fragrant cream sauce. Such a delicate treat!
Chicken fillet tends to be dry especially when chicken breast is used, but Chef Felice’s version is far from it. The chicken that Saturday was moist and firm, complemented by the mild herb gravy. Also worth raving was the polenta cake — crisp on the outside and fluffy within.
My favourite of the three was the beef tenderloin, cooked to a medium doneness and its flavour, accented with some black pepper sauce. It was one of the most flavourful pieces of tenderloin I can remember eating. He also makes a very good beef tagliata, which I tried during my first visit.
Al funghi pizza (RM28) was an ala carte order because I spotted a wood-fire oven in the kitchen. The pizza crust was thin, tanned and chewy, and generously topped with fresh wild mushrooms, caramelized onions and mozzarella. It wasn’t the same as the pizzas rif and I ate in Rome, but it nonetheless very good. We packed half of this home because we were stuffed from the antipasti buffet.
Dessert was a selection of apple cake, tiramisu and jam tarts. On my previous visit, it was the lemon tart, panna cotta and chocolate mousse; all uniformly delicious. The smooth panna cotta had a layer of freshly made jam within, which gave it a lovely contrast of flavour and texture. Apple cake was light and fluffy, while the sweet jam tart went well with my cup of black coffee (RM8.80). Chef Felice’s chocolate mousse was bittersweet and lusciously rich; it disappeared from the dessert spread within minutes.
My meals at Spasso Milano were enjoyable on all counts; I’ll be blogging about my dinner experience soon. Would you believe it if I told you the antipasti buffet was RM18++, and I only paid an extra RM3 for my main course? I thought Angelo, the Maitre d’ was pulling my leg when he showed me the antipasti buffet menu. The ala carte dishes are cheaper than most Italian restaurants I’ve been to; one can have a good meal and a bottle of wine for less than RM300 (two pax).
Business hours: Tuesday to Sunday (12noon to 3pm – lunch, 6.30pm to 11pm – dinner)