Monnalisa Italian Restaurant is situated approximately 10 KM west of Kuala Lumpur in Hartamas Shopping Centre. A very busy, vibrant location which serves the Sri Hartamas neighbourhood. Set amidst two serviced apartments, office blocks and shopping arcades, this lifestyle complex is popular in the area and houses a variety of shops, local boutiques and countless other restaurants.
Monnalisa Italian Restaurant was opened approximately 3 years ago here in KL by resident Italian, Carmine, in memory of his Grandmother, who initially founded the Monnalisa in 1962 in Napoli, Italy. Carmine wanted to follow his childhood dream of owning his own restaurant just like his Grandmother, to offer you traditional Italian food in her memory, just as she prepared it all those years ago in Italy, now her legacy lives on right here in KL!
A relatively small, but cosy restaurant, fan cooled with a very homely feel, situated on a corner, on the first floor, away from the the clearly visible, vibrant activity on the ground floor below. The theme and colour is definitely “red” with comfortable red chairs and a shiny, well kept, vintage red Fiat Seicento proudly parked in the corner! Definitely the first thing you notice when you walk in and visible from where ever you might choose to sit. You can choose to sit inside or on the balcony with views of the busy ground floor.
Since it’s situated in a shopping centre there is plenty of parking, either in the shopping centre itself or nearby street parking right outside on the ground floor with just a short walk up some steps which run immediately adjacent to the restaurant itself. We shot a short video of the outside so you can take a look around.
Our Dining Experience
We arrived about 6.30pm and there were 3 of us dining today. We ordered 3 starters, 3 mains and 3 sides to go with the main dishes. At Monnalisa the sides are always served separately from the main dishes in keeping with Italian tradition.
Monnalisa have an extensive menu with a wide range of Italian beers, wines and spirits available. Check out the menu here to see the wide selection of pizzas, appetizers, mains and desserts too. We didn’t try their apparently famous Neapolitan style pizzas on this occasion which by the way, can also be taken away, or delivered to your door. To my delight they also stocked my favourite, Peroni Italian beer!
First up was the Bruschetta al Pomodoro (RM12) consisting of the highest quality, bright red and juicy, thickly sliced vine ripened tomatoes. Just like the tomatoes that can only be found on the Mediterranean. Each tomato slice was carefully placed on 3 pieces of toasted rustica bread with italian EVOO and each topped with fresh basil. Absolutely delicious and was definitely my favourite starter.
About the size of 2 tennis balls, the Arancini al Ragu’ di Carne e Mozzarella RM24 was next, deep fried rice balls with tomato sauce and stuffed with beef and Mozzarella. An outer layer of fried rice and tomato sauce and a generous inner layer and centre filling of beef and Mozzarella.
The last of the starters was the Insalata Monnalisa (RM22). A super fresh house special salad served in a light balsamic Vinagrette with mixed green lettuce, cherry tomatoes sliced in half, green olives also sliced in half, all topped with very finely sliced parmesan cheese. For me, it was the delicious green olives that made this salad great, imported all the way from Italy! In fact, almost all of the food available on the menu has been imported from Italy by only trusted suppliers of Monnalisa.
Now it was time for the mains and side dishes. As mentioned earlier and in keeping with Italian tradition, the sides are served separately. The Salmone alla Piastra (RM45) was cooked to perfection and simply melted in the mouth.
I am a big lover of steak so I ordered the Bistecca (RM65) and it did not disappoint. Served medium rare as requested, this fair sized portion of pan-seared Black Angus rib eye steak was tender, succulent and with well marbled fat.
Video Of The Evening’s Food
The most expensive dish on the menu was the Branzino all’ Acqua Pazza (RM80) and once it arrived it was clear why. We had to wait just a little longer for this but it was definitely worth the wait as in my opinion, it was by far our favourite dish of the evening. Super fresh whole baked seabass simply fell off the bone with a slight nudge of the fork, combined with the white wine and cherry tomato sauce it simply melted away in the mouth! Delicious!
These 3 mains were complimented superbly with our choice of 3 side dishes. The Patate Saltate (RM9) which consisted of roasted potato with rosemary and garlic. The potatoes had a crunchy exterior and a fluffy, soft interior, just as roasted potatoes should be.
The Peperoni (RM12) which went very well with the seabass consisted of lightly roasted red bell peppers with black olives and breadcrumbs. This had a very light flavour and superb texture combined with the breadcrumbs.
The Melanzane Grigliate (RM10) which was eggplants, just lightly grilled so as to maintain their flavour and slight crispiness, served in an abundance of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
We had a delightful evening served by friendly staff and tasty, well presented Italian cuisine. We had a chance to chat with the owner, Carmine, who is clearly passionate about Italian cuisine. He expressed his disappointment that we didn’t try one of his famous Neapolitan pizzas! We will be going back to try those! He also told us the story of the vintage red Fiat Seicento parked in the restaurant and that he has actually driven it in Malaysia before it became a permanent fixture in his restaurant.
Our 2 favourite dishes of the evening had to be the Branzino all’ Acqua Pazza and the Brushcetta al Pomodoro. The Bistecca Black Angus rib eye steak was also in the running for the top 2 but was, on its arrival quickly overtaken by the delicious seabass! Oh, and let’s not forget, The Peroni Italian beer!
Monnalisa Italian Restaurant is quite small a place, which along with the plush red decor and furnishings gives it that homely feel that just makes you want to stay longer and eat more! Very clean and tidy, definitely worth a visit for those of you, like me, that love authentic Italian cuisine. Monnalisa are only open for dinner from 4.30pm until 11pm.
Monnalisa Italian Restaurant
Hartamas Shopping Centre
M-1-1, Sri Hartamas
50480 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603 62065394
Opening Hours – 4.30pm Until 11pm seven days a week