Taman Tun Dr Ismail, fondly known as “TTDI” has seen quite a number of family restaurants sprouting in this past year. By “family restaurants”, I mean those eateries run by family members and their set-up being very family-friendly, too.
One of the latest such eateries is Livello Uno, located on an upper floor of a shoplift along Jalan Aminuddin Baki. Barely 6 months old, this restaurant has been quietly satiating many an Italian food lover in this neighbourhood. As it’s housed in an upper floor, you may not even notice it if you don’t look up when cruising along this road. Tilt your head upwards and you will see its signage against the green, white and red of the Italian flag.
The Italian theme is further displayed (loud and clear) when you step into the restaurant. Besides the flag colours being reflected in the furniture, there are crazy bright Italian pop art murals on the walls and we love that cosy corner with cheerful sofas if you just want to chill-out with some coffee or while waiting for fellow diners. Oh, there’s even a smoking room sectioned off if you need to take a puff.
Owner-cum-Chef Mashad Pino, together with his sister, Mutiara run the place. Of Italian-Malaysian parentage, Chef Mashad decided to return to his homeland after 8 years of culinary experience in Europe.
We started off with some Bruschetta con Burro Acciughe (RM10) – slices of baked-till-crispy baguette covered with homemade anchovy butter and garlic spread. They looked rather plain and mediocre but trust me, they were so good I had to replicate them at home that weekend! Yes, I actually went to hunt for Italian anchovies and grabbed the last baguette on the bakery shelf just so that I could have this again, as the memory of this bruschetta lingered on my mind!
We love clams and just couldn’t resist the Vongole ala Tarantina (RM14) when we spotted this on the menu and it turned out to be an excellent choice. Since they were in season, we got these really tasty and sweet Venus clams which had been saute’ed with garlic, chilli, chopped parsley and extra virgin olive oil. The sauce was incredibly delicious, nicely pungent with the sharp briney flavours of fresh shellfish.
Spaghetti Marinara is of course a common dish in any Italian eatery. Chef Mashad executed this very well: al dente pasta tossed with prawns, NZ mussels, squids, crabmeat in a thick house-made tomato sauce. Those 2 prawns were huge and at RM28, with all the rest of the seafood thrown in, I thought this was one of the best value-for-money marinara dish I’ve had in quite a while.
Let’s talk about Chef Mashad’s favourite and signature dish: Gnocchi Pomodoro Con Manzo. The freshly-made potato dumplings with a delightfully light airy texture were braised in house-made tomato sauce with beef strips, topped with fresh mozzarella, black olives and arugula. Although I was never a gnocchi fan, I have to admit that I found myself thoroughly enjoying these gnocchi! I could taste the unmistakable potato flavour in those dumplings which set them apart from the usual chewy floury gnocchi found in many places. Priced at RM28 for a substantial portion, this is comfort food at its best.
Feeling satiated with the 3 dishes we have tasted, I didn’t mind so much that the Filletto di Salmone (RM32) was just average. The salmon fillet was a tad overcooked and the spinach in cream didn’t quite have that smooth velvety texture that I prefer but the perfectly-cooked cous cous was excellent – fluffy yet retained a good chewy texture.
We had their Tiramisu and while we’ve had better versions, the generous portion of soft sponge fingers, dipped in their house blend coffee and layered with mascarpone cheese was a steal at RM16. That huge piece is more than enough for two people to share!
Other desserts listed on the menu include Pannacotta, Chocolate Mousse Pie, Belgian Ganache Chocolate Tart and gluten-free Chocolate Cake, so go indulge.
What we really like about the food at Livello Uno is the distinctive unpretentious “home-cooked” flavours of their dishes, affordable pricing and the bright energetic vibes of the place. And yes, we’ll definitely go back for those amazing gnocchi!
165A Jalan Aminuddin Baki
Taman Tun Dr Ismail
60000 Kuala Lumpur
Operating hours: 10.30am-10.30pm
Closed on Tuesdays
*Alcohol & Pork-free