[Penang] Italian dinner at Nero Nero, King Street

Dinner at George Town’s latest dining spot this evening: 2-day-old 𝗑𝗲𝗿𝗼 𝗑𝗲𝗿𝗼 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: π˜½π™šπ™‘π™‘π™žπ™£π™ž (peach purΓ©e topped with π™ˆπ™€π™£π™©π™šπ™‘π™«π™žπ™£π™ž π™‹π™§π™€π™¨π™šπ™˜π™˜π™€), 𝘼π™₯π™šπ™§π™€π™‘ π™Žπ™₯π™§π™žπ™©π™― ( 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:
:small_blue_diamond: π™‹π™–π™£π™―π™šπ™§π™€π™©π™©π™ž 𝙋π™ͺπ™œπ™‘π™žπ™šπ™¨π™š - 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.

:small_blue_diamond: π™‹π™–π™§π™’π™žπ™œπ™žπ™–π™£π™– π™™π™ž 𝙕π™ͺπ™˜π™˜π™π™žπ™£π™š - 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.

:small_blue_diamond: 𝙋𝙀𝙑π™₯π™šπ™©π™©π™š 𝙖𝙑 π™Žπ™ͺπ™œπ™€ - deep-fried lamb balls in Arrabiatta sauce. Another well-executed dish, but which seemed to lack the β€˜wow’ factor.

:small_blue_diamond: π™Žπ™–π™›π™›π™§π™€π™£ π™§π™žπ™¨π™€π™©π™©π™€ π™¬π™žπ™©π™ 𝙨𝙖π™ͺπ™¨π™–π™œπ™š π™’π™šπ™–π™©. 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 β€œI can cook this myself” dishes.

:small_blue_diamond: π™π™–π™«π™žπ™€π™‘π™ž π™™π™šπ™‘ π™‹π™–π™¨π™©π™€π™§π™š - ravioli stuffed with eggplant, sheep milk ricotta cheese & mint. Served with Arrabiatta sauce & with a scattering of arugula on top. This was another β€œokay” rendition.

:small_blue_diamond: π™Šπ™§π™šπ™˜π™˜π™π™žπ™šπ™©π™©π™š 𝙁𝙧π™ͺπ™©π™©π™ž π™™π™ž π™ˆπ™–π™§π™š - 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.

Palate cleanser
:small_blue_diamond: π™‡π™žπ™’π™€π™£π™˜π™šπ™‘π™‘π™€ π™¨π™€π™§π™—π™šπ™© π™¬π™žπ™©π™ π™ˆπ™€π™£π™©π™šπ™‘π™«π™žπ™£π™ž π™‹π™§π™€π™¨π™šπ™˜π™˜π™€ 𝙨π™₯π™–π™§π™ π™‘π™žπ™£π™œ π™¬π™žπ™£π™š

:small_blue_diamond: π˜Ώπ™šπ™£π™©π™žπ™˜π™š 𝙖𝙑𝙑𝙖 π™ˆπ™šπ™™π™žπ™©π™šπ™§π™§π™–π™£π™šπ™– - pan-seared red snapper, finished with gremolata oil (garlic oil, parsley), served with green pea purΓ©e, wilted spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and caramelized nuts. This dish was superb. Meryl Streep’s reaction when tasting the sole filet in β€œJulie & Julia” came to mind when I had my first taste of this dish. :joy:

:small_blue_diamond: π™Žπ™©π™§π™–π™˜π™€π™©π™©π™€ π™™π™ž π˜Όπ™œπ™£π™šπ™‘π™‘π™€ - lamb shank, slow-cooked for 24 hours in Chianti, served atop polenta, with vegetable caponata & rosemary. The meat was literally β€œfall-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.

:small_blue_diamond: 𝙋𝙖𝙣𝙣𝙖 π˜Ύπ™€π™©π™©π™– π™¬π™žπ™©π™ π™Žπ™©π™§π™–π™¬π™—π™šπ™§π™§π™žπ™šπ™¨. This was nicely balanced - light yet creamy-rich at the same time.

:small_blue_diamond: π™π™€π™§π™©π™žπ™£π™€ 𝙖𝙑 𝙏𝙖𝙧𝙩π™ͺ𝙛𝙀 - Belgian dark chocolate lava cake, with Sicilian pistachio ice-cream. Strictly for chocolate lovers, of which I’m not.

:small_blue_diamond: π˜Ύπ™§π™šπ™’π™€π™¨π™€ 𝙖𝙑 π™’π™–π™¨π™˜π™–π™§π™₯π™€π™£π™š.

:small_blue_diamond: π™π™žπ™§π™–π™’π™žπ™¨π™ͺ - 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 β€œCalifornia 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


We went back to Nero Nero for a pizza lunch today. Relatively quiet at lunch-time, but the skyrocketing popularity of this newbie saw it being fully-booked some three weeks in advance for dinner. And they’ve just implemented two seating sessions for dinner: a 6pm to 8.30pm first seating, and an 8.30pm to 11pm second seating.

We started our lunch with an Insalata di polpo - tender slices of slow-cooked octopus, accompanied by roasted potatoes and bathed in a lemon-pesto dressing, served on an orange & fennel salad.

Quattro formaggi - the classic β€œFour Cheeses” pizza, topped with mozzarella, gorgonzola, latteria and smoked scamorza.

Calzone - folded cheese filled with mozzarella, tomato sauce, button mushrooms and turkey ham.

Contadina - topped with smoked scamorza, fried eggplant, caramelised cherry tomatoes, basil pesto, and black olives.

These were some of the best pizzas we’d had in George Town, although other good Italian joints in town like Bottega Mediterranea or Via Veneto served those which are as good.

Still, this is a very much welcomed new addition to the Italian dining scene in George Town.


Back to Nero Nero for dinner with a group of friends this evening.

π™π™§π™žπ™©π™©π™€ 𝙛𝙧π™ͺπ™žπ™©π™©π™ž π™™π™ž π™’π™–π™§π™š - crisp batter-fried calamari and prawns

𝘽π™ͺ𝙧𝙧𝙖𝙩𝙖 cheese, served with basil-marinated cherry tomatoes, crumbled bread, arugula leaves and extra-virgin olive oil

π™‹π™–π™£π™―π™šπ™§π™€π™©π™©π™ž 𝙋π™ͺπ™œπ™‘π™žπ™šπ™¨π™š - deep-fried mini-calzone with mozzarella, tomato sauce, and basil

π˜½π™§π™ͺπ™¨π™˜π™π™šπ™©π™©π™–, with flaked tuna, and with Pomodoro & cheese

π™π™žπ™œπ™–π™©π™€π™£π™ž π™–π™’π™–π™‘π™›π™žπ™©π™–π™£π™ž - tube-shaped pasta with lamb sausage meat and friarielli

π™‚π™£π™€π™˜π™˜π™π™ž 𝙖𝙑 π™§π™–π™œπ™ͺ π™™π™ž π™–π™œπ™£π™šπ™‘π™‘π™€ - potato dumplings with slow-cooked lamb & pecorino cheese

π™Šπ™§π™šπ™˜π™˜π™π™žπ™šπ™©π™©π™š π™–π™ž 𝙛𝙧π™ͺπ™žπ™©π™©π™ž π™™π™ž π™’π™–π™§π™š - ear-shaped pasta shells with calamari, prawns, clams and mussels, cooked in fish stock

π™π™–π™«π™žπ™€π™‘π™ž π™™π™šπ™‘ π™₯π™–π™¨π™©π™€π™§π™š - ravioli stuffed with eggplant, ricotta cheese and mint, smothered with arrabbiata (garlic-chili-cherry tomato) sauce

π™π™žπ™¨π™€π™©π™©π™€ π™–π™ž 𝙛𝙧π™ͺπ™žπ™©π™©π™ž π™™π™ž π™’π™–π™§π™š - seafood risotto


Faultless service and competent cooking at this 3-week-old joint.


That looks delicious! Between the rigatoni and the risotto i could make a meal right there!
My ex-GF is Italian and her parents are phenomenal cooks. I was blessed with many a family meal a la Calabria or Sardegna.
I miss the food almost as much as the girl!


Back to Nero Nero for lunch today, with a visiting cousin from Hong Kong. This place has been working very hard to cement its reputation as the go-to place for Italian fare in Penang at the moment.

Our lunch consisted of:
:small_orange_diamond: π˜Ύπ™–π™§π™₯π™–π™˜π™˜π™žπ™€ π™™π™ž π™ˆπ™–π™£π™―π™€ – thinly-sliced raw beef, served with honey-lemon mustard, served with arugula leaves, Parmigiano-Reggiano & croutons, drizzled with aged balsamic vinegar.

:small_orange_diamond: 𝘽π™ͺ𝙧𝙧𝙖𝙩𝙖 – whole burrata from Puglia, served on a bed of basil-marinated cherry tomatoes, crumbled bread, arugula leaves and extra-virgin olive oil. Best burrata in town: very creamy.

:small_orange_diamond: π™‹π™–π™£π™―π™šπ™§π™€π™©π™©π™ž 𝙋π™ͺπ™œπ™‘π™žπ™šπ™¨π™š – deep-fried mini-calzone, filled with buffalo mozzarella, tomato sauce & basil, served on a base of pureed bell peppers and almond sauce. These little morsels of deliciousness were almost singularly the reason why I kept coming back to this place again and again. Very addictive.

:small_orange_diamond: π™π™–π™œπ™‘π™žπ™€π™‘π™žπ™£π™ž 𝙖𝙑 𝙏𝙖𝙧𝙩π™ͺ𝙛𝙀 – tagliolini pasta in truffle-cream sauce, topped with pecorino cheese.

:small_orange_diamond: π™Žπ™©π™§π™–π™˜π™€π™©π™©π™€ π™™π™ž π˜Όπ™œπ™£π™šπ™‘π™‘π™€ – lamb shank, cooked for 24 hours in Chianti wine, served atop creamy polenta, vegetable caponata and rosemary jus.

:small_orange_diamond: π˜Ώπ™šπ™£π™©π™žπ™˜π™š 𝙖𝙑𝙑𝙖 π™ˆπ™šπ™™π™žπ™©π™šπ™§π™§π™–π™£π™šπ™– – pan-seared red snapper, finished with gremolata oil (garlic oil & parsley), served with green peas puree, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and caramelized nuts.

:small_orange_diamond: π™‹π™žπ™―π™―π™– π˜Ώπ™žπ™–π™«π™€π™‘π™– – pizza with tomato sauce, chili, mozzarella and beef salami.

:small_orange_diamond: π™π™žπ™§π™–π™’π™žπ™¨π™ͺ – Savoiardi in espresso-coffee liquor, mascarpone, egg yolk and cocoa powder.

Honestly, we don’t really get very good tiramisu in Penang, or anywhere in Malaysia, for that matter. There was a good one, once upon a time, at the now-defunct Fatto A Mano, a casual Italian eatery in Bangsar (Kuala Lumpur) conceptualised by Riccardo Ferrarotti for owner, Christophe Chatron-Michaud who’s Franco-Italian.

Interestingly, Riccardo Ferrarotti’s Penang outpost, Bottega, is the closest competitor to Nero Nero for the title of Best Italian in Penang at the moment.


Quite saucy.

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Very - localised to suit Malaysians’ preference for a lot of sauce/gravy in most of their food.

In parts of Malaysia, they carry this love for gravy to the extreme, and actually have burgers drenched with brown gravy & mayonnaise. You eat it with knife and fork.

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When we visited Penang, burgers/Western food was the furthest things from our mind. Good thing B (who eats burgers) avoided them - Zoiks!

This is why I can’t abide poutine. :smile:

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