An upscale Jakarta restaurant woos guests with authentic Italian fare and nostalgic but trendy charm.
Nestled strategically in Central Jakarta’s business hub, Pesto Autentico’s unique interior design resembles a snug Italian neighborhood.
The dimly lit space – popular among young executives and expatriates – features large wooden tables surrounded by wooden chairs in some areas, with several banquettes for those seeking a more intimate dining escape. There are also two VIP rooms that seat 12 and 20.
Located in UOB Plaza, the restaurant serves many needs, whether for a casual lunch on workdays, romantic dining in the evening or a hangout to kill time with friends and colleagues.
The friendly staff also help create a sense of intimacy. Yet, of course, the food is the most important form of indulgence here. To make the most of the Italian dining experience, the menu includes a selection of wines to pair with the variety of dishes on the menu.
No less interesting is the restaurant’s open kitchen concept that allows diners to view the live food preparation.
At the helm of the kitchen is Italian chef Fausto La Fata who has 20 years of culinary expertise under his belt.
“Many of my creations here at Pesto are influenced by the cooking styles of my grandfather and grandmother, both who were also chefs,” he said.
La Fata recommends torretta di granchio avocado e gamberi (small tower of avocado, crab meat and prawn) or pizza Quattro formaggi (Italian pizza topped with four cheese: parmesan, fontina, pecorino and mozzarella) for the entrée. The latter is one of the favorites on the pizza selection.
“You have to cook it with the right ingredients to blend the four types of cheese. And the right cooking technique is crucial to produce such tasty and crunchy pizza,” La Fata said.
He advised that passione in white is suitable for any of the two items on the entrée menu.
The main courses include a rich selection of homemade pasta made from high grade durum wheat semolina, as well as selections of ravioli, fettuccine and grill dishes.
For your primi (first course), try spaghetti con anatra rucola e grana (spaghetti with roasted duck, rucola and parmesan cheese) or spaghetti alla aragosta (spaghetti with 200 grams Canadian lobster).
This melt-in-the-mouth spaghetti is covered with rich and glossy sauce. It’s quite tempting indeed. And the best pair for this spaghetti is Paolo Leo Malvasia Bianca. This Italian wine is a perfect match for the flavorful spaghetti.
And bistecca alla fiorentina is the star among the items listed in the secondi (second course). Served with potato wedges and sweet aged balsamico (balsamic vinegar), the one-kilogram porterhouse steak is undoubtedly good to share.
Medium is what the chef recommends, yet many diners prefer medium well or some favor for well done. Regardless of the choice of the cooking, this tender and juicy steak is even more palatable when paired with Paolo Leo Orfeo Negroamaro.
Those who fancy an Italian seafood delicacy should try zuppa di pesce. This is where the chef reveals his own recipe in creating satiable Italian seafood pasta with clamp, cod fish, salmon, squid and prawns. White wine traditionally goes well with the dish.
Despite the main course’s big portion, don’t leave the restaurant without trying all berries (mixed berries with vanilla ice cream and caramelized wine) and crepes al cioccolato (crepes with mascarpone and nutella). Ardiansyah, one of the chef’s team, demonstrates his culinary creation in serving both delicate desserts.
“Vanilla ice cream, after experimenting with others, matches best with the berries. As for the crepes al cioccolato, I use 60 percent powder chocolate with fresh cream,” Ardiansyah explained.
Text and photos by Aulia R. Sungkar. Published in The Jakarta Post on June 19, 2014.