With a recently-refurbished décor, a brand new chef in the kitchen and a revamped menu, Nerovivo holds its place as one of the foremost Italian restaurants anywhere in the city, producing pizzas, pastas and seafood of the highest order. Located just a short walk from Changkat Bukit Bintang and its seemingly endless bars and nightclubs, Nerovivo’s relaxed atmosphere and cosy interior are at odds with the bustling neighbourhood nearby. And it was here that a group of 22 discerning diners assembled to taste the creative Italian fare offered up by Portuguese Chef Joao Melo. The relaxed Nerovivo is polar opposites to the bustling Changkat Bukit Bintang nearby Che Puan Sarimah Ibrahim and Tunku Jamie Nadzimuddin Tunku Mudzaffar Jay Lee, Abethan Kanthasamy, Jay’s daughter Misa, Dato’ Kee Hua Chee, Dato’ Frank Steinleitner, Kelly Lee, Dirk Lubbert, and Melinda Looi Among the celebrated guest list were Tunku Jamie Nadzimuddin Tunku Mudzaffar and his television host wife Che Puan Sarimah Ibrahim; HE Nicolai Ruge, Ambassador of Denmark; Director of Chemplex Consulting, Dato’ Frank Steinleitner; Executive Deputy Chairman of Insas Berhad, Dato’ Sri Thong Kok Khee; Datuk Ali Abdul Kadir, Chairman of Rio Capital and member of the Festival Advisory Committee; and renowned Malaysia fashion designer Melinda Looi. HE Nicolai Ruge and Astrid Agerholm Ruge Joan Foo Mahony, Terence Mahony, Dato’ Sri Thong Kok Khee, and Datin Sri Kwee See Dr Elizabeth Lee and Cheah Ming Chiew Datuk Ali Abdul Kadir with Datin Su Wai Fun and Terence Mahony John Langan and Eva Soh pose with Chef Joao Melo As guests gathered for pre-dinner drinks and an assortment of delicious canapes, Festival Organising Chairman Dato’ Steve Day introduced Chef Joao as well as the restaurant’s owner Abethan Kanthasamy as the two promised a feast on sublime Italian food. With opening introductions out of the way and the diners eager to begin their food odyssey, they were escorted to the brand new private room of the restaurant where modern art decorations and extensive wine showcases covered the walls. Even though many of the guests on the evening were regular patrons of the restaurant, not all had seen it since the grand refurbishment earlier in the year and the spectacular furniture and classy décor were the topic of much discussion throughout the night. What Italian dinner would be complete without canapes of mini pizza? Canapes of Prawns with Cecina Ham, and Vitello Tonnato The spectacular new decor at Nerovivo was the topic of much conversation among the guests Dato’ Steve introducing hosts for the evening Abethan Kanthasamy and Chef Joao Melo Chef Joao’s first course – an amuse bouche of grilled artichoke cream, Cecina ham and crispy wild mushrooms – set the tone for the evening. Light and flavourful, the dish was the perfect representation of the Italian style of dining – combining simple ingredients and enjoying them in bite-sized portions. Grilled Artichoke Cream, Cecina Ham and Crispy Wild Mushrooms The second of the six courses on the menu was a dish of octopus carpaccio, tomato crouton, pickled vegetables, aged balsamic and green olives and followed Chef Joao’s theme of the European way of dining. Almost more finger-food than a set menu course, the crunchy carpaccio joined the lip-smacking octopus in one of the cornerstone dishes in Chef Joao’s menu, as his love of seafood shone through. Octopus Carpaccio, Tomato Crouton, Pickled Vegetables, Aged Balsamic and Green Olives Chef Joao describing his dish to the diners As animated conversation flowed on the table alongside some delicious wine pairings, Chef Joao busied himself in the kitchen with his entrée – a fresh homemade spinach taglierini with burata cheese, cherry tomatoes and roasted pine nuts. Embracing the galactic spirit of MIGF 2015, the plate was constructed to resemble the planet Saturn and its rings and was named as the standout dish of the menu by many of the guests.\ Chef Joao tossing the delicious pasta high into the air Fresh Homemade Spinach Taglierini with Burata Cheese, Cherry Tomatoes and Roasted Pine Nuts, with presentation designed to resemble Saturn and its rings On the Festival Menu, guests are offered the choice of two main courses, but at this Publicity Dinner, the eclectic group of lucky diners were treated to both of Chef Joao’s creations. The first of these, a baccala confit with red onion, bortoli-bean puree, spinach, egg yolk, garlic and orange-infused olive oil, came beautifully presented with the chef’s penchant for fish dishes on show once again. The delectable presentation of the dish had many diners comparing it to the mains of Michelin-star eateries such was the care and attention that had gone into it. Baccala Confit with Red Onion, Bortoli-Bean Puree, Spinach, Egg Yolk, Garlic and Orange-Infused Olive Oil The final of the savoury courses for the evening brought a veal ‘scaloppina‘ with white wine and capers sauce, raw butter and roasted tomatoes tortino. Tunku Jamie was among the diners to hold high praising for the dish, saying: “The veal is so tender. We knew already that the chef had a real talent for seafood but this course told me that he is equally impressive when it comes to prime cuts of meat.” Veal ‘Scaloppina’ with White Wine and Capers Sauce, Raw Butter and Roasted Tomatoes Tortino Italy has long been renowned the world over for its abundance of deliciously fresh fruit, and this fact is clearly not lost on Chef Joao as evidenced by his dessert – poached pear with saffron, dried pomegranate, cinnamon crumble and blackberry panna cotta. Succulent and sweet, the many fruits offered a healthy-yet-sweet ending, while the poached pear in particularly was praised for its juicy tenderness. Poached Pear with Saffron, Dried Pomegranate, Cinnamon Crumble and Blackberry Panna Cotta With all the guests delighted (and extremely full) after the six-course banquet, Dato’ Steve led them all on a hearty round of applause for Chef Joao and the whole kitchen team. Deputy Chairman of VinaCapital and renowned wine enthusiast, Terence Mahony, echoed this sentiment stating that he thought that the dinner had succeeded in every endeavour from the ambience and the food to the wine and the service. Terence Mahony congratulating the whole team on a marvellous dinner Finally, it fell to HE Nicolai Ruge to have the final say of the evening: “I think this restaurant has all round been a fantastic host for us this evening, and Chef Joao, I have to compliment you on an excellent lineup of dishes. I particularly enjoyed your seafood courses and I like the way you have put a twist on the traditional style of Italian cooking. Everything has been excellent and I thank the whole team for such a wonderful evening.” HE Nicolai Ruge, Ambassador of Denmark and keen foodie, giving the final speech of the night Nerovivo gets a big thumbs-up from all the VIPguests Nerovivo’s full Festival Menu, at just RM118 without wines or RM218 with wines with many increasing discounts for larger groups, is available to view here. To learn more about the charismatic Chef Joao, click here.