The Italian Job
There’s something different about the Mandarin Grill. Their signature steaks – premium Australian grain and grass-fed beef – are still there (you can relax, carnivores). However, Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur’s signature restaurant has evolved considerably since undergoing an extensive reworking of its interiors and menu. With Chef de Cuisine Luigi Stinga (formerly of the two-Michelin-starred restaurant Seta in Mandarin Oriental Milan) at the helm, it’s now primed for the position of Kuala Lumpur’s leading Italian restaurant.
The newly renovated venue accommodates up to 76 guests, with a private dining room and a semi-private dining area available. The interiors of the Mandarin Grill interiors have been refreshed using botanical elements, a light green and turquoise colour scheme and a glass-enclosed wine cellar while Stinga has brought the warmth and boldness of Italian cuisine to its tables. (A business lunch menu is available during weekdays, along with a la carte and degustation menus for both lunch and dinner.)
READ MORE: Mandarin Grill Serves Up Italian Delights
While the dishes remain refined and elegantly presented – the caviale e prosecco, for instance, makes for a decadent starter of a pillowy French caviar and potato square bathed in prosecco foam – there’s an earthiness and simplicity that shines through. Stinga’s standout specialty, the delicate ravioli di baccalá – ravioli stuffed with potatoes, oregano, and white, flaky cod fish that has been dried and salted – directly references his childhood years in Naples, spent beside his grandmother in her kitchen.
Meanwhile, there are slightly more modern takes on classic Italian dishes like seafood risotto, laced generously with lobster and sprinkled with brightly coloured sweet potato powder, and a lighter, somewhat deconstructed interpretation of tiramisu. “Italian cuisine is so much more than just pasta and pizza," says Stinga, who trained under Antonio Guida, one of Italy’s most celebrated chefs. “I want to introduce authentic Italian dishes to Kuala Lumpur. There’s always a connection between the restaurant and their guests, and this is what I am hoping to achieve here."
Any future changes or special additions to the menu are likely to reflect shifts between Italy’s seasonal ingredients: this month, it may be mushrooms and asparagus, and white truffles in November. Elaborate desserts might not be out of the question either, since Stinga confesses, “I love eating pastry."