Pasta Bella, Bangsar

July 11, 2019

With a leafy, sky-lit atrium that straddles the line between rustic and refined, the Pasta Bella experience might be the closest thing in KL to a meal under the Tuscan sun - revamped and reopened this past month, the restaurant pushes pasta to even more pleasurable heights, taking inspiration from both Italy and the Asia-Pacific, paying homage to time-honoured pasta traditions while breathing renewed life into them.

Bella knows how to bring out the best in pasta, by ensuring the fundamentals remain flawless - quality spaghetti, linguine, pappardelle, rigatoni and more, prepared to that precise al dente bite, buoyed by sauces crafted in the kitchen, bolstered by meat, seafood, herbs and vegetables at their prime.

That winning formula applies to all the pastas we picked, spanning the subtle and delicately nuanced to the robust and richly dynamic. 

The Vongole alla Paper Moon is a tribute to the rendition by its namesake, Paper Moon, doing delectable justice to the four-decade-old Milanese dining institution, courtesy of a flood of fleshy, briny clams showered in a savoury-garlicky sauce that speaks stirringly of both sea and land (RM42).

Seafood devotees can also indulge in spaghetti with Moreton bay bugs - otherwise known as flathead lobsters - and wilted spinach cooked with white wine (RM60), or more Asian-inflected recipes like XO pipi clams on linguine and spicy crab meat with spaghetti.

But if it's the ultimate decadence that you seek, the wagyu beef fat spaghetti carbonara fits that bill, eggy across its yolk-golden entirety, made extra-textured with crunchy morsels of fat that cleanly convey the pure essence of beef (RM32).

Other options range from the meat enthusiast's slow-cooked lamb ragu on pappardelle to the vegetarian-friendly vodka rigatoni and the fresh tomato linguine with basil and burrata cheese.

Even a bona fide Italian can't live on pasta alone, so there's a plethora of other offerings here to make for a satisfying feast without a single strand of spaghetti.

Start with the beef chorizo platter, layered with juicy figs that slice lusciously through the sausage's concentrated punch, plus parmesan custard that's smoothly buttery in texture but unmistakably cheese-complex in taste (RM30). Other starters include everything from calamari with radicchio tenders, oranges and anchovies to school prawns with curry leaf mayo.

Saffron risotto is irresistible for a main course, each grain imbued with that distinctive fragrance, lent a lovely earthiness with an ensemble of enoki, button and fried oyster mushrooms (RM48). If you must shun carbs though, braised lamb shoulder, brick chicken, wagyu beef intercostals and pan-seared fish beckon from the menu.

With no fewer than eight desserts, Pasta Bella's sweets section might be tough to select from - macadamia milk panna cotta seems as tempting as baked ricotta cheesecake, but the house-made vanilla ice cream with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic strawberries sounds like a surefire smash. But ultimately, the sourdough-started infused ice cream is the winner if you must choose only one, beautifully cultured and churned to a velvety mellowness, crisped up with crushed croutons (RM20)

Italian dining is ideally complemented by plenty of wining - Pasta Bella strives to please, with a solid selection by both bottle and glass. The Chalk Hill Blue Bubbles sparkles with rejuvenating zest, making for a marvellous aperitif (RM35 per glass). If you're ordering the Vongole alla Paper Moon, pair it with the vivacious liveliness of the St. Claire's Vicar's Choice Sauvignon Blanc (RM25); for the Wagyu Beef Fat Spaghetti Carbonara, the Cesari Principe Chianti promises a soulfully harmonious sense of balance (RM25).

With an ambiance as alluring as Pasta Bella's (we also adore the evocative classic movie poster beside its open kitchen), there's every reason to linger, especially when the bar is capable of concocting cocktails that also cleverly nod to Italy's culinary heritage.

Whether you're day-drinking or searching for a potent nightcap, the Bella Classic (RM35; named for The BIG Group's founder's daughter, comprising gin, Campari and sweet vermouth) might well be Bangsar's most brilliant Negroni. But we can't stop there, since the inventive use of Italian-influenced produce also shines in creations like the Bufala Negra (RM38; bourbon with Terra del Tuono three-year-aged balsamic vinegar and East Imperial Mombasa ginger beer) and Fig Morning (RM38; Citadelle gin with fig jam, lemon juice, honey).

Many thanks to Pasta Bella for having us here.

Bella Pasta by The BIG Group

15, Lorong Kurau, Taman Weng Lock, Bangsar, 59000 Kuala Lumpur. Tel: 03-2282-3571

Open Tuesday-Friday, Sunday, 12pm-3pm, 6pm-12am; Saturday, 9am-3pm, 6pm-12am.

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