New Prego chef sprinkles a dash of Malaysia on Italian favourites

As the original was published on 8 September 2017

The kitchen inside Prego, the Italian restaurant at The Westin Kuala Lumpur, was as busy as Jalan Bukit Bintang when it introduced Ricky Parlanti as its new Italian chef de cuisine. Parlanti indeed received a warm welcome — figuratively and literally speaking.

Just a couple of weeks into his new role, the ninth generation chef from the Parlanti family in Tuscany was immediately thrown into the hot seat for a cook-off with The Westin Kuala Lumpur’s Director of Kitchens Rudy Junaidie. And boy, are we glad to have tried his Italian-inspired cuisines with distinct flavours that satisfy the Asian palate.

Meet Ricky Parlanti, Prego’s new Italian chef de cuisine.

Parlanti has over 35 years of working experience in five-star hotel restaurants and dining venues all over the world. Locally, he’s sharpened his knives at Dining in the Dark KL, The Steakhouse KL, and The Whisky Bar.

Right away, he took us to Italy with a Burrata con Verdure Grigliate (RM65) as appetisers. The fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream (sourced from Puglia) was buttery yet light. Grilled Mediterranean vegetables dressed in extra virgin olive oil, garlic and fresh herbs gracefully balanced out the sweet and milky flavour of the cheese while the pesto provided a herbaceous note.

New Prego chef adds a touch of Malaysia on Italian cuisines
Burrata cheese served with grilled spring vegetables, basil and pine nut emulsion.

The second course arrived with the aroma of truffle-scented cream of mushroom soup in the air. Here, coarsely blended porcini and wild mushrooms provided a slightly grainy texture. Fried croutons, whipping cream, and sprigs of chervil topped the heartwarming Zuppa di Funghi Aromatizzata al Tartufo (RM42) — giving it a velvety and lightly rich taste.

Guests were unanimous in crowning Parlanti in his cooking duel against Judainie’s spicy Gamberetto Aglio Olio e Peperocino. Instead of serving a classic and dry Carbonara e Castelmagno (RM68) as you would get in other Italian restaurants, the chef made the pasta creamier to satisfy Malaysian diners’ preference. The carbonara was first finished off with an egg yolk cream and parmesan cheese and then stirred around in a hollowed Castelmagno cheesewheel lending it a sharp, cheesy goodness. The addition of beef bacon helps to break the monotony of creaminess with an added texture and crispiness.

Post image Related: Buon appetito: 5 best Italian restaurants to try in KL

New Prego chef adds a touch of Malaysia on Italian cuisines
Carbonara e Castelmagno

For the main course, Parlanti gave a duet of Branzino e Manzo Prego or wood oven-baked salted sea bass (RM94) and one-kg of grilled grain-fed Angus T-bone steak (RM286). Enclosed in a parchment paper cartoccio, the seabass fillet served with fennel, fresh dill and pomace oil tasted light and pleasant with citrusy herb flavours.

Complementing the fish was smokey and tender Australian Angus beef tenderloin that was sautéed in spinach with garlic, julienned red chili, raisins, and pine nuts. Dipping it into the apple jus, shallot and fresh thyme reduction intensified the meat’s strong flavours to our liking.

New Prego chef adds a touch of Malaysia on Italian cuisines
Chefs Rudy Junaidie (left) and Ricky Parlanti (right) present their dishes: Gamberetto Aglio Olio e Peperocino and Carbonara e Castelmagno.

Our gastronomic journey ended with Tiramisu Tradizionale. The chef prepared the classic Italian dessert by dipping Savoiardi (Ladyfinger) biscuits with espresso and brandy suspension with sugar before topping it with mascarpone cream and cocoa powder. And of course, a dash of rum and cognac for the alcoholic version. He also serves it without alcohol should you prefer it.

All in all, Chef Ricky’s personal touch on the existing menu items has put Prego well back within our radar of restaurants that serve the best Italian cuisines in Kuala Lumpur. And we’ll definitely come back here at off-peak hours to have him customise a Menu Surpresa with our choice of preferred menu dishes and ingredients. Pay him a visit and he would most probably do the same for you!

Prego, Ground & Upper Ground Levels, The Westin Kuala Lumpur, No. 199, Jalan Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, +60 3-2773 8338

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