Dinner at George Town’s latest dining spot this evening: 2-day-old 𝗡𝗲𝗿𝗼 𝗡𝗲𝗿𝗼 at 4, King Street. The nifty little bottega is an offshoot of Nero Nero in Damansara City, Kuala Lumpur, which was established back in 2017.
The new Penang branch’s kitchen is currently being temporarily run by KL-based Executive Chef Marco Petriacci.
We started off with some drinks: 𝘽𝙚𝙡𝙡𝙞𝙣𝙞 (peach purée topped with 𝙈𝙤𝙣𝙩𝙚𝙡𝙫𝙞𝙣𝙞 𝙋𝙧𝙤𝙨𝙚𝙘𝙘𝙤), 𝘼𝙥𝙚𝙧𝙤𝙡 𝙎𝙥𝙧𝙞𝙩𝙯 ( Prosecco, Aperol, and soda) and, for the teetotaler in our party, an orange-based mocktail.
Focaccia with pesto and tapenade were served as we browsed the menu. These were some of the best we’d had in town.
Our dinner spread this evening:
𝙋𝙖𝙣𝙯𝙚𝙧𝙤𝙩𝙩𝙞 𝙋𝙪𝙜𝙡𝙞𝙚𝙨𝙚 - deep-fried mini-calzone, filled with mozzarella, tomato sauce and basil. Served on a base of bell peppers and almond sauce. The mini-calzones were light & crisp - we could have ordered seconds, but resisted the temptation.
𝙋𝙖𝙧𝙢𝙞𝙜𝙞𝙖𝙣𝙖 𝙙𝙞 𝙕𝙪𝙘𝙘𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙚 - oven-baked zucchini, layered with Mozzarella, Parmigiano Reggiano and tomato sauce. This was good, but not something we can’t cook at home ourselves. It needed something to elevate it beyond the ordinary.
𝙋𝙤𝙡𝙥𝙚𝙩𝙩𝙚 𝙖𝙡 𝙎𝙪𝙜𝙤 - deep-fried lamb balls in Arrabiatta sauce. Another well-executed dish, but which seemed to lack the ‘wow’ factor.
𝙎𝙖𝙛𝙛𝙧𝙤𝙣 𝙧𝙞𝙨𝙤𝙩𝙩𝙤 𝙬𝙞𝙩𝙝 𝙨𝙖𝙪𝙨𝙖𝙜𝙚 𝙢𝙚𝙖𝙩. I always loved risotto, and would eat it in whatever rendition that it came by. This was as good as any, but felt like another of those “I can cook this myself” dishes.
𝙍𝙖𝙫𝙞𝙤𝙡𝙞 𝙙𝙚𝙡 𝙋𝙖𝙨𝙩𝙤𝙧𝙚 - ravioli stuffed with eggplant, sheep milk ricotta cheese & mint. Served with Arrabiatta sauce & with a scattering of arugula on top. This was another “okay” rendition.
𝙊𝙧𝙚𝙘𝙘𝙝𝙞𝙚𝙩𝙩𝙚 𝙁𝙧𝙪𝙩𝙩𝙞 𝙙𝙞 𝙈𝙖𝙧𝙚 - ear-shaped pasta shells in seafood sauce, garnished with calamari, prawns, mussels and clams. This is perhaps the best amongst the primi dishes we ordered - the deep, flavorsome seafood broth gave the dish an addictive taste. the pasta was al dente and the seafood used were super-fresh.
𝙇𝙞𝙢𝙤𝙣𝙘𝙚𝙡𝙡𝙤 𝙨𝙤𝙧𝙗𝙚𝙩 𝙬𝙞𝙩𝙝 𝙈𝙤𝙣𝙩𝙚𝙡𝙫𝙞𝙣𝙞 𝙋𝙧𝙤𝙨𝙚𝙘𝙘𝙤 𝙨𝙥𝙖𝙧𝙠𝙡𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙬𝙞𝙣𝙚
𝘿𝙚𝙣𝙩𝙞𝙘𝙚 𝙖𝙡𝙡𝙖 𝙈𝙚𝙙𝙞𝙩𝙚𝙧𝙧𝙖𝙣𝙚𝙖 - pan-seared red snapper, finished with gremolata oil (garlic oil, parsley), served with green pea purée, wilted spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and caramelized nuts. This dish was superb. Meryl Streep’s reaction when tasting the sole filet in “Julie & Julia” came to mind when I had my first taste of this dish.
𝙎𝙩𝙧𝙖𝙘𝙤𝙩𝙩𝙤 𝙙𝙞 𝘼𝙜𝙣𝙚𝙡𝙡𝙤 - lamb shank, slow-cooked for 24 hours in Chianti, served atop polenta, with vegetable caponata & rosemary. The meat was literally “fall-off-the-bone” tender. But I do wish the whole dish (and the all-important gravy) had a deeper, mellower flavor, though. Maybe it’s just Day Two of the new restaurant’s operation. Maybe the chef didn’t have a chance to let the cooked lamb shanks sit, and allowed their flavors to develop.
𝙋𝙖𝙣𝙣𝙖 𝘾𝙤𝙩𝙩𝙖 𝙬𝙞𝙩𝙝 𝙎𝙩𝙧𝙖𝙬𝙗𝙚𝙧𝙧𝙞𝙚𝙨. This was nicely balanced - light yet creamy-rich at the same time.
𝙏𝙤𝙧𝙩𝙞𝙣𝙤 𝙖𝙡 𝙏𝙖𝙧𝙩𝙪𝙛𝙤 - Belgian dark chocolate lava cake, with Sicilian pistachio ice-cream. Strictly for chocolate lovers, of which I’m not.
𝘾𝙧𝙚𝙢𝙤𝙨𝙤 𝙖𝙡 𝙢𝙖𝙨𝙘𝙖𝙧𝙥𝙤𝙣𝙚.
𝙏𝙞𝙧𝙖𝙢𝙞𝙨𝙪 - Savoiardi biscuits in espresso, mascarpone cheese, eggs, sugar, Marsala wine, rum and cocoa powder. Very good rendition.
Overall, a good meal with most of the dishes competently prepared.
There was one stand-out: the pan-seared red snapper was perfectly cooked - moist on the inside, lightly crisped on the outside. Don’t miss this one if you do make a visit to Nero Nero.
Nero Nero had a turbulent start in DC Mall in Kuala Lumpur back in 2017. The first Executive Chef was Carmine de Filippo who specialized in “California Italian” cuisine. His tenure lasted just 3 months: Aug-Oct 2017. De Filippo’s replacement was Domenico Nicolino, who also lasted 3 months: from Nov 2017 to Feb 2018.
The talented Giuseppe Lioce then took over, and ran the kitchen from Jan 2018 to May 2020, and most of the dishes associated with Nero Nero stemmed from his watch. Lioce was succeeded by Diego Reali in May 2020. Chef Reali was then transferred over to Natalia (owned by the same parent company, Cinnamon Group) when the present Executive Chef, Marco Petracci, joined in Sep 2021.
Nero Nero - Penang
4, Lebuh King (King Street), 10200 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Tel: +6012-207 0794
Operating hours: 12 noon to 10.30pm daily