That new Eat Street of Kerobokan, Jln. Laksmana, continues to gain new residents at both ends of the monetary scale. Now we have yet another cheapie, this time an Italian one, trying to imitate the overwhelming success of that Greek upstart, the Mykonos Taverna.
This one must be very cheeky, as it is situated right next door to that wonderful upmarket Italian restaurant, Toscana. Called simply, Trattoria Cucina Italiana, it does what it promises. Simple, basic Italian cuisine, all faithfully prepared freshly on the premises, at a price anyone can afford. Small and cosy, bustling with action, people come here simply because they are hungry and want to enjoy their food and wine. Sounds like more of the Mykonos philosophy!
In any suburban or rural area of Italy, you are never far from a Trattoria. In fact there is usually one on every corner, and quite a few in between as well. The amazing thing is that all are usually full at 10.00 every night, not just men on a night out, but whole families, kids and all. Here at Kerobokan, you could almost be in Italy. The same good basic food concept, and Italian is definitely the customer language of choice [definitely an excellent sign], just no kids! The other noticeable difference is no Mama in the kitchen making the pasta. Though, judging by the quality of the pasta maybe she was here this afternoon, after all.
The daily menu is wrapped around that day?s fresh produce, so it is constantly changing but not in concept. The menu is small and simple, Antipasti, Pasta, what we call Mains [Secondi Piatti] and a couple of desserts. Of course in Italy you are expected to order and happily consume, with wine, all four courses!
The Trattoria Antpipasto plate is a combination of grilled and marinated vegetables. Polpo con Patate e Rucola is one of my favourite dishes, Octopus. With potatoes and rucola it is served warm. A variety of salads complete this section of the menu. Insalata di Mare, a seafood mix on a base of mesclun. Insalata di Funghi is also a mesclun salad, but with fresh mushrooms, celery and flakes of Parmesan. I love strong cheese so it was impossible to go past the Insalata al Gorgonzola. It is a salad of an Italian version of that unique cheese, with walnuts and celery.
For me, Gnocchi is either very special or it arrives soggy and awful! Here it was so good I had to return another night for a repeat dose! Made on the premises from Ricotta cheese and fresh herbs, simply served with butter and Parmesan. Wow! Also produced in house is the Taglioni, although what pasta is made varies from day to day. Taglioni Gamberi e Zucchine is served in a prawn and zucchini sauce.
Spaghetti al Tonno is tossed with a fish sauce made from Tuna. Penne alla Puttanesca has been mixed with ham, olives and capers. Tagliatelle alla Bolognese is another homemade pasta, this time with that famous sauce of minced beef and tomato.
Tagliati di Filetto con Patate is simply beef tenderloin and potatoes. Straccetti con Rucola is small pieces of the same beef tenderloin that have been sautéed with garlic and served on a bed of rucola. Costelette di Agnello Scottadito is a rack of lamb, sautéed spinach and potato. Cotoletta alla Milanese is an escalope of beef, in breadcrumbs, and deep-fried.
Fancy Seafood? A Tonno alla Griglia con Emulsione di Basilico is grilled tuna that tastes wonderful! Want something different? Zuppa di Roscardini is baby octopus on toasted bread, with potatoes and a tomato-based sauce.
For dessert: Crème Brulee or Tiramisu. Simple, but both are good [as they only cost Rp.13,000 each, order both!]. No, this Trattoria is not a place for a quiet fine dining experience. By contrast it is noisy, almost boisterous. A constant buzz of conversation reigns supreme. And many strange noises, as the food is devoured. More often than not the two things happen at the same time! But, funny thing, everyone seems very happy and relaxed. And they all seem to return regularly as everyone seems to know everyone else, as well as the staff [front of house and kitchen, it is all one].
Only open for dinner, but if you wonder why then drive past during the day and see the hive of activity that never seems to cease just to produce all of the evening?s goodies! As this place is already full, virtually every evening, I guess a future lunch place is out of the question?