Little Italy may be a quaint name for a restaurant but it truly speaks for itself because this simple, nononsense outlet located on ground floor in and beside Capital Hotel, down town Kota Kinabalu central business district is really almost like Italy, judging by the authentic array of pasta
and pizzas available.
The first time when it opens for business five years ago, it has proven to be a hit among local diners and tourist. So much so that according to
Chef and Restaurant Proprietor, Emiliano Ceresa, they had to close for three days to replenish their supplies because they kept running out of food during the first three weeks! One customer was said to have even gone through the entire menu! And going by the choices on offer, it must have been quite an adventure.
To start with there’s the familiar garlic bread or Bruschetta (Italian bread) topped with tomatoes soaked in olive oil and antipasto (hot and cold appetisers) such as their mussels in white wine sauce. And if anyone thinks that the egg plant is a vegetable that’s better left forgotten the Melanzane Parmigiana will soon change that perception. There are also soups to choose from and the Zuppa Di Mare (Seafood Soup) is certainly one that shouldn’t be missed.
As for pizzas, don’t expect the thick crust types usually mistaken as the real thing because here only the thin and crispy home made versions are served with a selection of toppings to choose from. Emiliano says it’s the original stone-baked Italian pizza just like they used to make in their hometown in Torino, Northwest Italy. Apparently it took them more than 10 years to master the art using only the freshest ingredients. Instead of having just spaghetti as the choice for pasta, there are several others to choose from like parpadelle, trenette, fettucine and ravioli. Complementing these are four kinds of sauces which can be based on tomato, seafood, cream or olive oil. Not forgetting the ‘Puccia Salmon’. These freshly baked sandwiches with smoked salmon or chicken with Onion, capers and 100 island sauces won Little Italy an award for its authenticity. The authenticity is perhaps best explained by the fact that Emiliano’s parents are the masterminds in the kitchen. His father, Luciano, makes fresh pasta everyday according to recipes tried and tested over many generations. Luciano says it is an art passed down from his
mother and his pasta is guaranteed free from additives and preservatives. Wanda, his wife does the main bulk of the cooking churning out mouth-watering meals to satisfy the hunger pangs and sometimes curiosity of their customers. Emiliano assures that all the essential ingredients
are Italian with about 80 per cent of them imported. The prices too are reasonable and certainly affordable so that “everyone has a chance to experience something new,” he says. They also provide take-aways and calls can be made in by finishing off with Little Italy’s Tiramisu made with original “Savoiardi” biscuits.
For the next visit, try pronouncing the Italian names in the menu. It will certainly be more fun than just pointing at the pictures!