[Penang, Malaysia] Italian dinner at Gustoso, Batu Ferringhi

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:

  1. Antipasto platter: cured meats, char-grilled vegetables, olives, bruschetta, Caprese salad and selection of Italian cheeses.

  2. A bite-sized Pizzeta - these were really micro-sized “pizzas”, hardly 3-inches in diameter, but pretty “big” in flavors.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  1. Insalata di Sardegna con Arance e Finocchi - Sardinian salad with oranges and fennel.

  2. Fracosta di Manzo - grilled Australian rib-eye mini-steak, served with mashed potatoes and mushroom sauce.

Australian rib-eye mini-steak - served medium-rare.

  1. Filetto di Branzino - baked seabass fillet, Sardinian-style, served with fennel, olives and orange.

  2. 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”. :grin:

Address
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.

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Hope you make it there. Be patient, that’s all we can do for now.

Italy is not on my list of anything but I do make an exception for a couple of places. Places that are “the other Italy” where they have own languages and cultures, such as the region that was formerly Austria, or Sicily, Sardinia, and also maybe near Swiss border.

Lunch in a cheese shop in Sicily last christmas.

There’s a small room behind the wall where shoppers and diners could sit down for a light meal.

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Now THAT is what I’d call a fabulous lunch platter!

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What was the cost of this feast?

RM130 or only about US$30 per head for the food.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold