Located on the quiet side of Persiaran Ampang lies a row of fine restaurants, and here sits Sapore. The restaurant borrows its name from Italian, simply meaning “flavour”. But do not be mistaken by this humble yet elegant Spanish-Italian restaurant as it serves artisanal food and fine wine ranging from their high quality jamon Iberco and unique tapas, to their suckling pig porchetta and iconic Iberico seafood paella.
The restaurant is fitted on the same row as some of the Ampang staples, with semi-fine dining restaurants to its right and left. The restaurant opens up to only a select few tables, with a bar at the end, and its wine cellar to the side. Although the restaurant looks like a simple bistro, the food here tells a different tale. Sapore brings the best of Mediterranean cuisine, a blending of unique and not commonly found Spanish tapas with favourites like the Italian Porchetta.
Sapore is led by Fabio Ruggiero, Owner and Executive Chef, and hails from Bari, Puglia. He learned culinary at the Professional Institute of Hospitality in Molfetta, and has since then worked in a number of hotels and restaurant worldwide, such as Hotel Eden in Italy and Getti Restaurant in London. He then continued his culinary journey at Marini’s on 57 before venturing into his own Sapore. When asked what Sapore’s philosophy is when it comes to food, Ruggerio said: –
“We don’t serve the typical Italian fare such pizza or pasta, or the normal tapas that you can get elsewhere. We specialise in Jamon Iberico, small tapas and great choices of wine. We want to assure our patrons that they have a good experience with the quality of food we serve. Because of my background working with Spanish cooking, and my heritage as an Italian, the food is quite similar in ingredients as part of the Mediterranean. Spanish cuisine uses a lot of preserving by marination, such as olives and fish. In our cooking, the quality comes from the ingredients itself. We do not change the flavour much and keep it to as few as possible, 2 to 3 ingredients at most.” — Fabio Ruggiero, Owner and Executive Chef of Sapore.
When asked what are his favourite dishes and what his patrons prefer, Ruggerio replied: –
“My favourite dish would have to be the roasted octopus with potato, arugula, and Modena balsamic vinegar. As for our diners, it basically always surprises us with their orders. As you can see from our reviews, everyone has their own preference, but overall, they enjoy all the food we serve. As menus will always revolve from time to time, our diners love our House Special at the moment, which are the suckling pig porchetta served with potato and arugula salad, the dry-aged T-bone grain-fed served with potato and arugula salad, pork Iberico seafood Paella (which is served every Sunday) and our Sevruga caviar served with scrambled eggs and crouton.”
In addition to their à la carte menu, Sapore prepares special menus that can be had which is quite close to a degustation. One of their latest offerings would be their Gourmet Food and Wine Pairing menu featuring Spanish flavours. The menu consists of an assortment of tapas as part of its starters, followed by two mains and a dessert. Each course was paired with a selection of wine.
Tapas & Appetisers
The first dish, a tapa, were the Marinated Green Olives consisting of olives marinated in olive oil, fresh rosemary and black pepper. The olives have a mild but pungent umami flavour, and went well with the olive oil, with the rosemary giving it a nice sharp bite.
The second dish, a tapa, were the Boquerones consisting of marinated fresh anchovies with olive oil, vinegar and parsley. The sour flavour from the vinegar imparted the fish fillets with a nice flavour.
The third dish, a tapa, were the Semi-cured Manchego Cheese consisting of Spanish Manchego goat cheese served with a pot of honey. The cheese was not too compact and had a buttery consistency and married well with the honey, and although simple, is highly recommended.
The fourth dish, a tapa, was the Salchichon Iberico Salami, consisting of thin slices of the prized sausage. This sausage is made from the Iberio pork, which is famous for its nutty aroma.
The fifth course, a tapas dish, was the Tortilla de Patata, consisting of an egg omelette fried with potatoes. This dish is usually fried with onions and potatoes and is quite the Spanish tapas staple.
The sixth course, a tapa, was the Jamon Iberio Belota 36 Month Extrema, consisting of Iberico pata negra pork ham which has been cured for 36 months. These pigs diet mainly consist of acorn which imparts a fragrant nutty aroma to the meat. The strips of ham are intensely red and fragrant, and are lean and flavourful. This dish is highly recommended.
The tapas were paired with a Noche Y Dia Cava Brut Nature, a sparkling wine that went well with the assortment of tapas and made a great starter.
The seventh dish, a meat course, was the Spanish Rabbit Confit consisting of Spanish rabbit cooked in a garlic olive oil confit with rosemary and mashed potatoes paired with Castillo Rodafuerte Arien 2014 white wine. The rabbit was cooked in a very low heat for long hours to ensure the flesh tenders well. As rabbit is quite a lean protein, the confit did it justice by the slow cooking. The flesh was perfumed with spices, and came apart with the tug of a fork. The mashed potatoes were fluffy and made a good side to the delicate rabbit. Would order again.
The rabbit was paired with a Castillo Rodafuerte Arién 2014, a white wine that goes well with lean white meat.
The eighth dish, a rice course, was the Spanish Paella Chorizo, consisting of chorizo sausages, paprika, octopus, clams and pink prawns. The paella had a pronounced fragrance of paprika, with the rice cooked quite well, still sticky. The capsicum had a burst of sweetness, with the long bean adding some texture. The prawns added a nice burnt briny sweetness, and the octopus and clams a chewy texture, but the highlight of this dish was really the chorizo which fragrance was almost intoxicating.
The paella was paired with a Castillo Rodafuerte Tempranillo 2014, a red wine that had a fruity and dry finish.
The ninth dish, a dessert, was the Vanilla Cream Catalana, consisting of crema Catalana with marinated strawberries. The strawberries added a nice sour tinge which went well with the custard texture of the cream.
The crema Catalana was paired with Yzaguirre Vermut Rojo, a vermouth which was sweet and intense, and ended the meal splendidly.
The Sapore Experience
Sapore is one of those restaurants that does not seek to be too pretentious, where the food is able to speak for itself. Its simple and elegant, and most of all, tasty. When asked what is the experience Sapore is seeking to deliver, Ruggerio stated: –
“We enjoy bringing people together through food. Casual dining with surprising taste in an extravagant gastronomic journey. Our first gourmet food and wine pairing seeks to deliver an experience of having authentic Spanish cuisine, so it is interesting when we see a mix of both European cultures and that how remarkable it is that our chefs can blend both Italian and Spanish cuisine, so that our Malaysian and expat patrons get a taste of both an authentic, yet contemporary taste. This is a unique taste from both countries, but it takes a very talented and smart chef to make the best combination, from using natural herbs, ingredient sourcing, the menu, a little bit influence of the local dining preference, the food presentation, the restaurant environment, and the staff service. In my opinion, most of the European/ Mediterranean restaurant might have try to localized the taste to follow the trend, but for Sapore, we tend to be different and unique.”
For that unique blend of Italian and Spanish, you really need not look much further.
18, Persiaran Ampang,
55000, Kuala Lumpur
+603 4266 6362
Monday to Friday, 2.00 pm to 11.30 pm
Saturday and Sunday, 10.00 am to 11.30 pm
| PHOTOGRAPHY BY NICHOLAS NG & LILA BAKAR | WEBSITE: SAPORE |