Via Pre

Special thanks to Via Pre for extending this food review invitation.

My previous visits to Via Pre last January and March have been enlightening. Unlike most Italian restaurants in Malaysia, Via Pre remains faithful to authentic Italian ingredients and recipes. This is why I am much honored to pay my third visit, this time to Via Pre's second outlet at Bukit Damansara, Kuala Lumpur.
This new outlet is located in a more secluded part of the capital city. Surrounded by affluent neighborhood, Via Pre enjoys a constant stream of customers including Western expatriates. Because this restaurant is not quite as spacious, there are fewer variety of cured meat, cheese and wine here as compared to its sister outlet.
Shortly after being seated, customers are served with a complementary basket of focaccia and wholemeal bread. Despite having limited kitchen space, Via Pre insists on baking its own bread to ensure maximum freshness. Indeed, the bread is aromatic upon serving, and the soft texture appeals to my palate. Italian bread is customarily enjoyed with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
The meal starts with Spritz (RM27.00), a drink which I have been craving for since my previous visit. This apéritif is concocted from a precise ratio of Prosecco sparkling wine, Aperol liqueur and soda water. A slice of orange in each glass imparts tangy citrus appeal. Spritz is one of the most popular thirst-quenching drinks during the summer months of Italy.
The opening dish is Cozze Della Casa (RM56.00), or "homestyle mussels". At the center of the bowl are giant New Zealand mussels, extremely fresh and blessed with plump flesh. The mussels are flavored by spicy tomato marinara sauce made from fresh tomatoes, garlic and a dash of white wine. Around the rim of the bowl are slices of schiacciata bread. Schiacciata has very similar texture to pizza crust; the bread is chewy and slightly powdery on the surface.
Cozze Della Casa is often paired with white wine. Parrina Ansonica Costa dell'Argentario (RM39.00) from Tuscany is one good choice.
From the pasta menu, Aglio Olio With Broccoli & Sausages (RM32.00) is great for diners who prefer a balance between meats and greens. This lovely dish matches savory duck sausages with vegetables such as broccoli, dried chili, garlic and parsley. Spaghetti is made from whole-wheat flour and is cooked al dente. Upon request, gluten-free pasta is also available. At Via Pre, pasta is either made from scratch, or sourced from Italy.
Costolette Agnello (Lamb Chops, RM79.00), Via Pre's signature lamb rack, makes a comeback - albeit with slightly different presentation. Three frenched ribs of Australian lamb are gratinéed with eggplant paste and goat cheese. A dash of extra virgin olive oil permeates the immediate vicinity with tantalizing aroma and helps to accentuate bold flavors of lamb. Served next to lamb ribs are broccoli, potatoes and sweet potatoes. Lemon wedge and scallion sauce are provided. The heavenly savoriness of this lamb chop is gratifying indeed.
In most cases, red meat like lamb is ideally paired with red wine. The choice of red wine this evening is Parrina Sangiovese Riserva (RM39.00).
At Via Pre, pizza crust is made from scratch such that it has the distinctive chewiness of fresh dough. As for toppings, Via Del Pre Kul (RM32.00) is the choice today. Covered with Neapolitan sauce (tomato sauce) and mozzarella di bufala (buffalo mozzarella), the dough is topped with an assortment of fresh vegetables like broccoli, black olives, capers, garlic, onion and chili. Light sprinkle of chopped parsley forms the finishing touch of this delectable pizza dish.
Il Tiramisu (RM22.00) is served as the dessert. This coffee-flavored treat is primarily made from savoiardi (ladyfingers), an egg-based sponge cake shaped like a large finger. For tiramisu, savoiardi is soaked in espresso. The dessert is also layered with creamy mixture of mascarpone cheese, eggs and cocoa. As per tradition, tiramisu is also given an infusion of Marsala wine. Finally, tiramisu is typically carpeted by a layer of cocoa powder for aesthetic effect.
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Tonight's dinner service concludes with a cup of fine coffee. At Via Pre, coffee beans are supplied by Rome-based Buscaglione Caffè. Italians are known for their cult of coffee, so the fact that this coffee makes the cut says a lot about its superior quality. Shown here is a cup of Espresso (RM9.00) and a cup of Latte (RM12.00).
It is interesting to note that the Italian palate is extremely diverse. For example, most coffee roasters are only known locally and rarely get the opportunity to venture beyond their respective regions of origin.

Throughout the entire evening, light background music keeps the ambience of this restaurant lively. With plenty of parking spaces on the side, Via Pre is becoming a popular dining spot for locals and expatriates alike. By the way, food at Via Pre Bukit Damansara is pork-free in order to suit the demographics around this outlet.

Name: Via Pre
Address: 25, Lorong Setia Bistari 2, Taman Bukit Damansara, 50490 Kuala Lumpur
Contact: 03-2011-2003
Business hours: 11:30am-3:30pm, 5:30pm-10:30pm (Sunday-Thursday), 11:30am-3:30pm, 5:30pm-11:00pm (Friday-Saturday), closed on Mondays
Website: http://www.via-pre.com
Coordinates: 3.14386 N, 101.65753 E
Directions: Traveling eastward on Sprint Expressway, take exit 2314B to Bukit Damansara. After the Petron gas station, turn left at the next opportunity to Jalan Beringin. After approximately 400 meters, turn left to Lorong Setia Bistari 2. Drive until you see a row of shops on the right. Via Pre is the corner shop in this row. There are parking spaces in front of Via Pre and at the adjacent overflow parking lot.

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