The quest to discover Italian restaurants in Jakarta never ends – at least not for me. Italian cuisine is one of my top five favourites in the world.
If you’re like me, with a stomach that’s always ready to be filled with pasta, pizzas, salads, desserts, etc, have you noticed ORO Italian Restaurant beeping on your food radar?
You can find ORO Italian Restaurant in Kemang, South Jakarta. It’s situated beside Grand Kemang hotel and strategically close to Kemang’s beloved bars, restaurants, shopping centre, and apartments.
ORO, meaning gold in Italian, is a trouble-free Italian word to pronounce and remember. That’s what owner Nicola Mazzaglia strived for in choosing the name of his pioneering restaurant in Jakarta.
Nicola is no stranger to a quality dining experience. He settled in Bali in 2009 and opened a few Italian restaurants there. But ORO had always been on the back of Nicola’s mind – a challenge he decided to take in Jakarta.
Nicola didn’t want ORO to be your typical authentic Italian-serving restaurant, which tends to have black and white photographs hung on brick-skinned walls. He envisioned fresh. Finally, on January 5, 2020, ORO came into reality with its contemporary Italian cuisine and design serving authentic Italian classic dishes. It’s fresh, it’s intimate, and it’s elegantly modern.
Glass doors with “ORO” written in gold letters over a navy-blue wall just beside Grand Kemang’s entrance will take you into modernity. More gold and black accents complement the dark brown leather furniture, colourful paintings, and tungsten lighting throughout the restaurant. Nicola had a clear vision emanating from his imagination and memories of travelling around the world whilst working at food and beverage outlets in Miami, New York City, Dubai, and other major cities. No architects nor interior designers were involved in setting the vibe.
Roughly 147 people fit the two-storey restaurant. The ground floor dining area includes a VIP room, indoor non-smoking and smoking spaces, as well as an outdoor space. Interestingly, a billiard table – free of charge – is placed in the indoor smoking section. Moving upstairs through a black staircase in the outdoor area leads you to the rooftop lounge. I can imagine the rooftop as a serene place to welcome in the night with friends. Woefully, only the ground floor is open during this period of tighter social restrictions.
Be greeted with north to south Italian dishes as you open the menu which is written in Italian, English, and Indonesian. The varieties of pasta and pizzas are ORO’s best sellers. Are you vegetarian, gluten-free, allergic to an ingredient, want only halal, or indulge in pork? Don’t fret. ORO’s menu caters to all of your dietary preferences. The Italian chef is ready to plate up your desires.
You can keep it safe to start with Calamari Fritti, Bruschetta, or Caprese. Or, you can try Carpaccio di Maialino – thinly sliced roast suckling pig served with rocket salad and balsamic vinegar sauce – and Parmigiana di Melanzane which is a deep-fried sliced eggplant filling layered with tomato sauce and parmesan cheese on top then baked. The latter appears exceedingly appetising.
Share a pizza while you’re at it. One pizza takes five minutes to cook, with two to three pizzas able to be cooked at the same time.
An array of pizzas including various meats that are both halal and pork-based, vegetables, and cheeses are available for you to decide. There are gourmet pizzas, namely Puerco topped with roasted pork, caramelised onions, mustard, and mozzarella cheese. Or, one of the classic pizzas: Capricciosa topped with mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, black olives, artichokes, mushrooms, and cooked ham; Napoletana topped with imported south Italy tomato sauce, imported mozzarella cheese, and anchovies; and so on.
I stuck with the classic Margherita pizza topped with mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh basil. One bite of this pizza and you’ll taste its outstanding tomato base.
The tomato sauces on the Margherita pizza and eggplant dish were absolutely decadant and fresh. Like the tomatoes, most ingredients are imported from Italy.
Let’s talk about the assorted cheeses for a moment. I could smell the cheesy goodness of the Spaghetti alla Carbonara “Italian style” as I stood up to take a picture of it! Nicola pointed out that this isn’t your typical creamy Carbonara because it’s truly Italian containing guanciale or pork cheeks, pecorini cheese, egg yolk, and crushed black pepper.
Another cheesy thrill is the Ravioli di Ricotta e Pecorino Romano con Pomodorini Freschi e Stracciatella, or homemade ravioli filled with ricotta and pecorini cheese, cherry tomato sauce, and Stracciatella cheese on top. This ravioli dish is the true star of ORO. Indeed, my tastebuds were content after a drenching of the mouth-watering sauce and additional cheese to the adequately-sized green-dough ravioli.
That was a great deal of cheese. Wash it away with an imported bottle of water from Italy – yes, even the water is imported – freshly-made juice, coffee, tea, or a fine selection of wines and other alcoholic refreshments. Top off a delightful early dinner with the layered coffee-flavoured tiramisu and/or satisfying panna cotta with raspberry sauce.
You can spot families, business professionals, expatriates living in the area, and government officials aged 28 years and above engaging in meetings, celebrating a small-scale coronavirus-friendly birthday, and even a wedding reception at ORO. Of course, this restaurant practices strict health protocols and adheres to the latest government’s regulations.
Expect to spend Rp200,000++ per person. You can always lean on trusty Grabfood and GoFood until the restaurant reverts to its intended closing time of 1am, whether you’re wary to eat outside or prefer to binge-watch on Netflix with your meal at home.