Ifiori has been there for a few years. An imposing building, white concrete, glass and chrome, it looks modern, a happening place. The site had housed many previous failures, in front and to the right of Waterbom Park, and Ifiori appeared to heading in the same direction, but now it has come alive, and is busy day and night.
The place has a fresh clean feel about it, the food is something similar. Basic Italian, some with a bit of a twist, fresh and tasty! From the Pappa's group in Legian but the menu at Ifiori is less traditional, more daring and experimental.
The Antipasti includes the mandatory Garlic Bread but rosemary infused in a wood-fired sourdough, Rock Oysters are topped with a spinach puree and Granapadano cheese, the Bruschetta topped with duxelles of mushroom and truffle oil. More unusual offerings are Gamberoni Saltadi in Padella, sautéed tiger prawns with tomato and crumbled feta, Arancini, Italian rice balls with spicy sausage, mozzarella and mushroom sauce and a wonderful Calamari Fritti Piccanti, a chilli and garlic crusted squid. Not overly tender or tough just at the slight crunchy level, the squid has quite a tang, you can not stop yourself from having one more, and again.
Salads also include the normal [Cesare and Caprese] plus an Insalata di Spinaci, baby spinach with goats cheese, pine nuts and cherry tomatoes, very tasty! But the salad surprise is their Petto d'Anatra con Insalata, duck breast meat with spinach, rocket, avocado, cherry tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, feta, pine nuts cashew nuts and sprinkled with an aged balsamico. Now this is a salad you will remember, and talk about.
Basic pasta can be spaghetti, linguini, penne, fettuccini, ravioli, fussili, bucatini or tagliatelle, all done the usual ways. Different is their Lasagne which uses layers of spinach egg pasta with minced duck and beef combined in the usual tomato salsa, very popular and no wonder why? Top of the range is Spaghetti with lobster meat, tomato, chilli and fresh basil sitting in a lobster broth.
Risotto can be vegetarian with pumpkin and artichoke or seafood style with king prawns and scallops. They use genuine imported Arborio rice as well.
A Hamburger with a difference is their Italian Burger. The traditional beef meat patty sits on toasted foccacia with marinated peppers, crispy eggplant and gorgonzola sprinkled with red wine jus, you definitely will not find this on the menu at McDonalds. A hamburger with taste, now that is new!
Everyone in Bali does Lambs Shank, or so it seems. It has always amazed me that such a winter dish could be so popular here in Bali but it always is. At Ifiori it has been crusted with lemon, parmesan and herbs, very original and very good. More Italian is the traditional Osso Buco, tender shank of veal that has been braised in a beef stock with tomato and herbs, served with vermicelli. Their Costeletta di Vitello uses imported veal for this tender crumbed steak, a perfect match for the accompanying potato mash, spicy tomato sauce and mozzarella.
In recent months, and until the end of February, Ifiori have been offering a small but perfect Oz Steak, prime beef fillet from Queensland, for only Rp.99,000++. As popular as that has been many still opt for the full sized Aged Fillet or Rib Eye, both perfect for the real steak lover, big man big appetite.
Seafood is fish. A Buttered White Fish with parmesan, garlic & herb butter, a saffron risotto on the side. Sword Fish is with lemon pesto and saffron pilaf rice, or there is Tasmanian Salmon with a green peppercorn cream sauce.
Desserts are what you would expect in an Italian restaurant; Gelatti, Crema Cotta, Affogato, Pannacotta and Tiramisu. But the show stopper is their Torte di Formagi alla Ifiori, a cheesecake creation their own special coffee cheese cake. Have a slice with a cup of Italian Caffe d'Angelo coffee, a double coffee treat!
Finish with a plate of imported cheeses, served with lavosh and dried fruits, and another cup of that coffee?
At one stage the white Ifiori looked as if it could become a white elephant, now it is just about the trendiest place in the street.