This pandemic lockdown is beginning to feel a bit stifling for those of us who’re used to traversing international borderlines in search of good food. One of the countries I’d been eyeing for my year-end holiday was Italy. But with the current spike in COVID cases throughout Europe, and Italy is one of the worst-hit, I don’t think we’d be seeing any form of travel into Italy for the foreseeable future.
So, when a friend suggested that we go for an Italian dinner at Gustoso Italian restaurant, headed by a Sardinian Head Chef, Gianmario Bassu, I thought, why not. Anyway, Gustoso’s located at the ParkRoyal Hotel, one of the many beach hotels doting Batu Ferringhi, Penang’s beach-lined Northern coastline. View from the hotel:
Chef Gianmario Bassu’s special tasting menu allowed us to taste a wide range of his offerings in a series of mini-bites - perfectly suited for me, who’d rather have a wide range of small tapas-like dishes than substantial 3- or 4-course servings.
What we had this evening:
Antipasto platter: cured meats, char-grilled vegetables, olives, bruschetta, Caprese salad and selection of Italian cheeses.
A bite-sized Pizzeta - these were really micro-sized “pizzas”, hardly 3-inches in diameter, but pretty “big” in flavors.
Rosellia di Pasta - layered fresh pasta and smoked turkey ham and mozzarella cheese, wrap into a rose shape and served on a bed of tomato-basil sauce.
Ravioli di Pollo ai Fungi Porcini - ravioli stuffed with corn-fed chicken meat and porcini mushrooms, served with a 24-month-aged Parmigiano-Reggiano cream sauce.
Insalata di Sardegna con Arance e Finocchi - Sardinian salad with oranges and fennel.
Fracosta di Manzo - grilled Australian rib-eye mini-steak, served with mashed potatoes and mushroom sauce.
Australian rib-eye mini-steak - served medium-rare.
Filetto di Branzino - baked seabass fillet, Sardinian-style, served with fennel, olives and orange.
Dessert platter: tiramisu, panna cotta and cannoli
My fave dessert item: the Sicilian cannoli - crisp, fluted pastry tube filled with ricotta cheese, candied fruits, chocolate chips and chopped pistachio.
Really enjoyed the meal - a good break from Penang’s street food and the usual mix of Chinese/Malay/Indian meals that we get everywhere in George Town.
The rambunctious, animated Head Chef - Gianmario “Mario” Bassu is so very “Italiano”.
Gustoso By The Beach
PARKROYAL Penang Resort Batu Ferringhi Beach
11100 Batu Ferringhi, Penang, Malaysia
Tel: +604-886 2288
Operating hours: 5pm to 10pm Mon to Thu, 11am to 10pm Fri to Sun.