Thu, May 01, 2014 - Page 12 News List

Restaurant review: Salvatore Cuomo & Bar

By Ho Yi  /  Staff reporter

Pepper sausage on a bed of cooked broccoli.

Photo: Ho Yi, Taipei Times

In Taipei, where handmade pizza experienced a boom and has become the new norm in the restaurant scene, Salvatore Cuomo & Bar, an international chain restaurant from Japan, creates the latest buzz with the much-touted, award-winning pies that have spread across its birth country and to China and South Korea. A recent weekday visit shows that the restaurant is off to a good start, wooing diners with a lively vibe, hearty food and attentive service.

Interestingly, the newcomer, located inside the Breeze Center (微風廣場), has a hybrid feel that reflects its provenance. Shepherded by Italian-Japanese grand chef Salvatore Cuomo, the establishment sports a quintessential Italian menu featuring choices of antipasto, pizza and pasta dishes, while the Taiwanese and Japanese waiting staff greet customers in unison as if in a Japanese restaurant. Outfitted with a well-arrayed, open kitchen where young cooks wearing black bandana and in white uniforms are busy preparing food, the interior exudes an industrial urban chic, tempered by brick walls and warm earth tones. Service is attentive, and the couple of wait persons who served our table were quick and helpful for making recommendations.

My dining companions and I started our supper with the assorted buffalo mozzarella cheese and cherry tomato (NT$600), said to be one of the best choices to savor the restaurant’s famous, high-quality buffalo mozzarella, produced in Italy specifically for Cuomo’s culinary enterprise. Made from water buffalo milk, the cheese is soft, springy in texture and has a delicate, mild taste that is fragrantly creamy and never cloyingly rich.

The romaine lettuce and egg salad (NT$320), on the other hand, was small and didn’t impress with the mushy vegetables.

Salvatore Cuomo & Bar

Address: Breeze Center, 39, Fuxing S Rd Sec 1, Taipei City (台北市復興南路一段39號)

Telephone: (02) 8772-7465

Open: Daily from 11:30am to 11pm, Fridays and Saturdays till 11:30pm

Average meal: NT$1,000 to NT$1,500 for dinner, plus 10 percent service charge

Details: Menu in Chinese, English and Japanese, credit cards accepted

On the net:

Then comes the evening highlight: D.O.C (NT$700), Cuomo’s rendition of Neapolitan pizza that won top award at the Pizzafest, a world pizza championship held in Naples. With simple offerings of cherry tomato, basil and buffalo mozzarella, the pie makes simplicity tasteful, with the thin crust baked to a slightly crispy brown on the rim, while maintaining a satisfyingly buttery and chewy texture toward the center. But if diners don’t dive into the pizza right away, the crust tends to get soggy and can barely hold the toppings.

We also tried both the prosciutto and rucola (NT$750), topped with tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella, smoked cheese, prosciutto ham, rocket greens and Parmesan, and bismark (NT$600), which comes with bacon, ham, spinach, mushrooms, semi-cooked egg and buffalo mozzarella. Both were good, but had the same problem of the soggy crust.

For pasta, we ordered the linguine aglio olio with swordfish and cabbage (NT$470), which my dining companions agreed was a bit too salty. Gnocchi and risotto are also on offer, while dishes like Neapolitan soup of seasonal seafood and fresh fish (NT$1,100) completes the restaurants’ southern Italian flavors.

To round off a hearty meal at Salvatore Cuomo & Bar, diners have several sweet options including tea-flavored panna cotta with fresh fruit sauce (NT$220), tiramisu (NT$220) and organic milk gelato topped with rich espresso sauce (NT$250).

Tipplers will be happy to know that Salvatore Cuomo & Bar has an extensive wine list made up of sparkling, white and red wines from Italy, France, German, Spain, Chile, Australia, New Zealand and the US (NT$230 to NT$280 by glass, NT$880 to NT$5,380 by bottle), along with a selection of beer and cocktails.

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