Okay, so we needed a break from Penang's hawker food and wanted to opt for something "familiar". Mario's Ristorante, a decade-old Italian eatery along Batu Ferringhi, located right across the road from Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort, offers quite good alternative dining options. Besides its pizzas, freshly baked from the wood-fired oven upfront, Mario's menu also has some Mexican options (?!).
What we had:
- Crab cakes: the twin discs seemed a tad small at first glance, and with a much firmer texture than we'd have liked. But the flavours were nice and the crab-meat was very fresh. The green-tinted sauce added a nice, creamy-rich taste.
- Aubergines Parmigiana: the aubergines were coated in batter and crisp-fried, before being topped with tomatoes and cheese then baked. It's pretty tasty.
- Baked Oysters Mornay: very fresh oysters, though I could use with more cheese for the creamy topping.
- The clam chowder soup served in a sourdough bread bowl was great! Not too creamy-rich like those I'd normally find in San Francisco - this one had the perfect balance of flavours: the salty-oceanic tang from the clams undercutting the milky-rich soup. Highly-recommended.
- Pasta with creamy-pesto sauce and pinenuts. I find that pastas in many places in Asia often tend to be slightly "over-boiled", and the version here was pretty much the same. The pesto sauce was slightly creamy, which I find a bit surprising - why add milk-cream to the sauce? Also could use more toasted pinenuts.
- Pasta with marinara sauce was pretty average in taste, and perhaps needed for herbs. But it was redeemed by very fresh seafood used.
- Beef-filled cannelloni, blanketed with tomato and cream sauce, was very competently turned out. It's not the best I'd had, but very good by Penang standards.
- The Mario's special pizza was thin-crusted and topped with pepperoni, capsicums and onions - loved the crust, but could use with more flavours in the topping. Still, a very good option.
We skipped the desserts. Overall, quite an enjoyable dinner. Well-kept, comfortable ambience, and very friendly service all round.
152-B, Jalan Batu Ferringhi
Tel: +604 881 3775