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Review: Nero Nero serves hearty but healthy Italian food in KL

The new Damansara City (DC) Mall is finally open. And much to our delight, it boasts many exciting cafes, restaurants and bars. One of the dining venues that’s definitely worth a visit is Nero Nero.

Opened last month, the modern bistro serves authentic Italian food with a healthy twist, which its executive chef Carmine De Filippo fondly refers to as California-Italian cuisine.

Atmosphere

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Nero Nero California Italian is located on the rooftop of the newly-opened Damansara City Mall.

For those who haven’t been to the posh shopping gallery, it may be a little tricky to find Nero Nero. Guests must walk to the mall’s rooftop on the opposite side of the main entrance along Jalan Damanlela. But once you get out in the open air, it’s quite hard to miss the establishment with its striking facade that’s painted all black. Its awnings and wicker chairs — in a colour scheme of black in white — perfectly capture the romantic setting of an alfresco dining garden in Tuscany or Rome.

Modern pieces of furniture, meanwhile, add excitement to the European-style dining space.  Stylish low-back bar stools, white marble counter tops, and a couple of pendant ceiling lights breathe life into its mix of wooden tables and chairs against checkered mosaic tiles, brick walls and archways. While a luxurious chandelier dramatically lights up the space, a classic indoor water fountain steals the spotlight, creating a calm ambience.

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About 60 guests may dine inside the indoor dining space that’s built around a water fountain centrepiece.

A long wood table at the centre station can seat 12 people while the adjacent dining space can accommodate up to 50 guests. Perfect for business lunches, or after-work gatherings, it can also be booked for private functions and company events.

Food

Nero Nero serves a repertoire of traditional Italian fare such as pizza and pasta. Classic dishes such as creamy carbonara or pepperoni pizza are usually heavy with carbs, butter, or cheese. But the restaurant prepares these comforting Italian favourites in a healthier way — using less oil and butter, just the right amount of spices, the freshest ingredients, and almost zero fat.

Its kitchen also employs procedures that make the food easily digestible. For example, the pizza dough is cold-fermented in the fridge overnight before shaping. Not only does this improve the texture and flavour of the crust, but it also makes it easier to digest.

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Cold-fermented in the fridge before shaping, Nero Nero’s pizza dough has an improved crust texture and flavour.

The California-Italian restaurant takes pride in its Napoli-style pizzas. And we’re glad to have been served with Margherita Classica (RM28) — a classic Italian pizza filled with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and basil. We particularly enjoyed the thin, chewy crust, as well as the burst of sweetness from the red tomato sauce and saltiness from the gooey mozzarella.

Before feasting on the main course, we enjoyed an appetiser of Ravioli Oxtail (RM44), a homemade pasta dumpling that was stuffed with oxtail and ricotta cheese sauce, gorgonzola, parmesan, fontina, and creme fraiche. It only took a single bite for it to make a lasting impression. Poured with a light tomato sauce, the evenly thin-skinned pasta dumpling was al dente yet tender, and released a creamy and gamey surprise that was so good, it was hard to resist asking for another plate.

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Made from egg yolk, the pasta dough was boiled and steamed.

We then moved on to perhaps the lightest meal in the lineup — the Branzino alla Ligure (RM120). This oven-baked whole Mediterranean sea bass was served with potatoes, zucchinis, cherry tomatoes, and black olives. The fish meat was deliciously buttery and had a fine and silky texture. 

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This oven-baked Mediterranean sea bass, imported from Greece, is also available on the set lunch menu.

We also enjoyed Nero Nero’s sliced beef dish, which was named Tagliata di Manzo (RM95). We will definitely come back for the glorious 250g Angus beef — lean and tender, the savoury grilled steak was finely sliced and came served in a marinade of  sea salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary, and olive oil. The sour and spicy rocket salad complemented the juicy texture of the beef.

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Nero Nero’s Tagliata di Manzo.

Verdict

Nero Nero is the best place to get your fix of Italian comfort food. From creamy soups of the day to breaded risotto and potato gnocchi, there are plenty of options to choose from without going overboard with the calorie count. The à la carte menu also includes a selection of Italian and French coffees, and desserts such as tiramisu.

Every Saturday from noon to 6pm, the place treats guests with a complimentary pan of Napoli pizza with any order placed from the seven-option pizza menu. Diners may also stand a chance to win a free dinner if they participate in the restaurant’s Tambola game, which entails drawing lots from a small barrel.

Nero NeroL3-02, Jalan Damanlela, Damansara City Mall, Damansara Town Centre, 50490 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, +63 2011 3811