Maestro: An Italian Orchestra of Flavors

I’ve walked into the Intercontinental – City Stars quite a few times because I’ve always loved to dine there. Today I was going to try a place that I normally walked past not noticing it’s supremacy.

On the right side of the lobby stands a little table with a piece of architecture as its backdrop under a small sign that says: “Maestro”. I walked in and felt like I was being teleported back in time. Everything in the restaurant evoked a sense of nostalgia. Most people don’t know this about me, but I actually spent a big part of my childhood in Italy. The live guitarist also helped to set the Italian retro atmosphere.

The host walked me to my table and placed the menu in front of me. Reading through it, I immediately noticed that it wasn’t your classic selection of Italian safe-bet dishes. There was a lot of pan-Italian & Sicilian influence as well as some European elements. The combination of ingredients was very interesting indeed.

To start; I had the pumpkin soup, which should have contained crab meat but it was replaced with shrimp due to lack of crab at this time. Considering that I am not the biggest fan of soup in general, it really warmed my heart at the first spoonful. The flavors were very well balanced and the shrimp chunks were cooked to perfection. If any comments, I would have been just fine with half of this generous portion. The trio of salads that followed was even more impressive than the soup. A beautifully plated Burrata Caprese, which I got lost staring at, a Carpaccio di Branzino with a tangy twist of orange, which is originally Sicillian and a Rucola with smoked duck breast and strawberries. On top of all these creative combos, the Burrata was fresh with a creamy center, the sea bass was brighter than the sun and the strawberries married perfectly with the saltiness of the duck and the sweetness of the balsamic reduction. For the mains, I tried the Ossobuco (which was a lamb cut this time) with saffron risotto and the Filetto di Manzo (Beef Fillet) with foie gras. For moral reasons I unfortunately stopped eating foie gras, but the beef was cooked to a perfect medium. The Ossobuco was tender and encased in gelatinous yumness! The risotto was beautifully cooked and the vibrant yellow color brought a lovely contrast to the dish. I also wanted to try the seafood spaghetti, which was fine but a bit underwhelming compared to the rest of the stuff.

There is never room for dessert, but I am always tempted! I tried the Panna Cotta with exotic sauce and was somewhat put off by the design of the glass plate it came in. I took a taste of the first spoon and 30 seconds later I couldn’t even remember what it looked like. It was gone! The fruit basket with an ice-cream scoop on top was also quite good and very pretty to stare at.

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This romantic spot has certainly stolen a piece of my heart right before Valentine’s Day. Maestro, I will be back! Io prometto! 😉

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