There was no way I was going to miss the one-night dinner of Chef Antonio Facchinetti, after reading that he helmed Prego, one of the premiere Italian restaurants in Singapore. In town for a couple of days, Chef Facchinetti was set to tickle the palates of Jakarta’s foodies by recreating the trattoria ambiance of Prego at Sapori Deli. Featuring a five-course dinner, “A Taste of Italy” was set at 6 pm on March 17.
A heavy downpour that Friday afternoon had me a little worried that my gal-pal Theresia and I would never make it to Fairmont Jakarta. Rain in Indonesia never augurs good tidings; it always means snarled traffic and flooded areas. Unexpectedly, the rain abated and traffic was smooth, arriving 10 minutes before 6 pm. The only bump on the road was finding our way to Sapori Deli; Theresia and I were more familiar with Spectrum, the hotel’s buffet restaurant.
We sat down amidst a softly lit room with tables festooned with mini Italian flags and elegant flowers. Our Italian repast began with a bowl of Zuppa Di Fregola Sarda or fregola (picture bigger couscous) with baby clams and broccoli leaves in tomato saffron broth. The soup was a perfect way to start dinner, having come in from wet Bekasi. The fregola was cooked to perfection and blended well with the flavourful broth and fresh baby clams.Shortly before empty bowls were whisked away to the kitchen, flutes of Italian soda, a maraschino cherry lolling at the bottom, made their way to our table. It certainly did the trick of further whetting our appetites with its bubbles and sweetness. Theresia and I were ready for the second course of Carpaccio di Wagyu. It was a certain delicateness to eating the dish – the Chinese spoon containing the quail egg yolk threw us off. Shall we mix it with the wagyu or have it first? The suggestion: it was up to us and that the egg yolk could do a bit of salt and pepper. I chose to swallow the quail egg yolk drizzled with salt and pepper first then immediately followed it with a bite of the paper-thin Carpaccio, which melted in the mouth, and bits of the parmesan chips, garden herbs, and grated black truffle. Splendid dance on the palate! Seguing into the third course, we were deliciously treated to Bigoli Con Baccala, a plate of bigoli and “Venetian-style” salted cod fish. Served on a warmed plate, the bigoli was al dente and rolled well with the tomato sauce and cod fish. Adding to the delectability of the dish was the knowledge, shared by Chef Facchinetti himself who dropped by our table, that Sapori Deli makes its own pasta fresh every day. There was a brief interlude – we requested for 10 minutes – before our main courses were brought in, so Theresia and I chatted up a storm until the 10 minutes were up. Theresia had Agnello in Crosta, a serving of two pieces of pistachio-crusted lamb chops with fresh pea and mint pesto, which she found flavourful and succulent. The lamb was done to perfection. Meanwhile, I had the lamb changed into a chicken dish, which was similarly flavourful and tender. Chef Facchinetti decided to close “A Taste of Italy” with a delectable Torta al Cioccolato, which was far from being saccharinely cloying. The just-right chocolate delight melded well with the wild berries coulis and streaks of lemon. Whose palate wouldn’t explode in pleasure with the glorious mix of chocolate and fruitiness? It’s simply divine. It was a superb culinary journey from the first dish to the last that wet Friday night. Theresia and I asked Chef Facchinetti when part 2 would be. He was non-committal and uttered, “It’s all up to the boss,” pointing surreptitiously to the table near the counter. We told him we’d be waiting if we don’t get to Prego Singapore first.