NeroVivo Restaurant – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I stumbled upon NeroVivo (‘Live Black’) whilst browsing the Internet.  I was looking for somewhere great to take a colleague out for dinner for a birthday celebration in Kuala Lumpur.  It seemed that NeroVivo had everything I was looking for: great food, fine wine and a fantastic reputation.  It was also Italian, which was the only condition I had been given from my colleague.

I made a reservation online as instructed by their website.  Being a Monday night in late November this later turned out to be unnecessary (although I am reliably informed that weekend tables must be booked).

As the taxi turned in to a dark street with a large construction site on one side, I was beginning to feel a little nervous.  We pulled up maybe 400 yards after the site; there were two eateries almost joined together.  There were no other restaurants or bars etc. in this street that made me think it was odd that there would be two together.

I could tell from outside that this was going to be a nice meal; the tables that I could see were adorned with crisp, white linen tablecloths and set with wine glasses.  Having eaten out every night in KL for two weeks, this was the only place that we had visited which had wine glasses.  I really was looking forward to a nice glass of Red.

As we entered we were greeted with a smile from the maître d’; another first for our KL stay.  There was a courtyard here, which I imagine would have been nice for a lunch, however we were more than happy with our air-conditioned table inside.  The décor here was trendy (‘trendy’ had been used by our Malaysian colleagues when we mentioned we were coming here), minimalist and cool.  There was some art on the otherwise grey walls and the toilets had some real funky washbasins.

Our waitress introduced herself as Amy and arranged our napkins neatly in the relevant spot.  She explained the specials of the day including a £60 piece of wagyu that was flown in that very morning.  My colleague found it amusing that there were only three available which matched the number of diners in our party perfectly, but he is a bit of a cynic.  We decided that despite it being a birthday, we wouldn’t get away with spending £200 on meat on our expenses and declined the special.

There was an extensive wine list here, predominately Italian but also some New World too – had we had the beef; I feel a bottle of Malbec would have paired wonderfully.  Instead we opted for a Barbera D’ Alba that was palatable but not worth the MYR 280 (£56) asking price.  I was once again reminded how far away we were from Italy and that the government tax alcohol at a high rate.  Still, I reckon I could have picked up this, or a similar bottle in the UK for less than £10 – it was not the best wine, but it did fit with our budget.

Amy came back and took our wine order.  Things then got interesting.  Amy asked us how we were getting on choosing our mains and then started to make recommendations based on the wine we had chosen.  This wasn’t an up-selling opportunity – indeed she recommended something much cheaper for one of my colleagues.  This was genuine customer service like I had never seen before.  As the conversation got a bit deeper she explained to my colleague (the cynical one) that his choice was a fairly small portion, and based on his previous comments (“I am starving”) perhaps the Sea bass would be a better choice.

After some excellent conversation and discussion around the dishes we eventually managed to order.  I opted for a Cappelletti con Spinaci / Spinach Cappelletti (MYR 38) starter, the birthday girl had some Pappardelle al ragu’ di agnello e / Lamb Ragout Pappardelle (MYR 36) and the cynical one chose Capesante Scottato / Seared Scallops (MYR 34).  For mains I chose a Pollo alla Milanese / Chicken Supreme (MYR 60), birthday girl opted for Branzino scottato con capesante / Seared Sea bass with Scallops (MYR 70) and the cynical one was the most adventurous and tried the Ossobuco alla Milanese / Braised veal Ossobuco (MYR 82).

We were given some home-made bread while we waited for the starters to arrive that was a little crunchier than I would have liked, but still delicious with the oil and balsamic provided.  Our wine (and water) glasses were kept topped up throughout and as our starters arrived, our wine bottle emptied.  Naturally we ordered another with the second bottle tasting a lot better!

Both pastas were scrumptious; the lamb being perfectly tender and tasty while the Cappelletti had just enough spinach and sauce to be yummy, but not too heavy.  The Scallops were suitably delicate but also flavoursome and the given quantity of three was just right.

Amy ensured all our glasses were topped up throughout and personally ensured that each plate seemed suitable to her, before presenting it to each of us.

After only a short pause the mains were out.  My chicken came with a small rocket salad, however we had discussed my general dislike towards most things green.  Amy had taken it upon herself to order a side of roast potatoes to compliment my chicken.  These did not appear on the bill and made the difference between a ‘nice chicken’ and an ‘excellent main course’.  I envy the service provided here and only wish I experienced it more.  The chicken was cooked well and the chilli added just a touch of warmth.

The cynical colleague described the Veal as “succulent full of flavour and the meat literally fell off the bone.  The portion was more than generous, which was a pleasant surprise compared to the other more delicate dishes on the menu”.  The fish suitably impressed the birthday girl too.

We didn’t have any dessert, as it really didn’t seem necessary.  We did have some complimentary liqueurs including a rather yummy home-made Lemoncello.

NeroVivo had a promo when we visited which gave 33% off food if you paid with an American Express card; naturally we complied.

Our bill for three starters, three mains and two bottles of wine was MYR 950 (about £200) including service.

It is not often that I leave a large tip, as it is not very often I feel that the service given is worthy of such, however we decided each to leave a note for Amy as we all agreed this was the very best service we had received in an exceptionally long time.  The look on her face when presented with this was easily worth the money alone.

If you are in Kuala Lumpur (or indeed anywhere near it), then you would be foolish to miss out on a visit to NeroVivo.  I can’t wait to live Black again.

NeroVivo, 3a Jalan Ceylon, 50200 Kuala Lumpur.  Website

NeroVivo also offer freshly made pizzas which start at MYR 30 (about £6) so don’t feel you can only visit for a special occasion.

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