Taste of Tosca

Tosca is on level 13 of DoubleTree by Hilton Johor Baru
I’m back at Tosca again. This time for a private party held in that dining room which I visited in a pre-opening tour of the hotel, escorted by none other than General Manager, Simon McGrath.  In my tour, the restaurant on level 13 was being fitted out and I saw this private dining room when it was still quite bare.  Now the dining room is tastefully furnished and when I look through the glass paneled wall, I can see specialty chefs working in the fully equipped kitchen beyond.

Last October, Tosca the Italian Trattoria launched its Sunday Brunch and diners were introduced to the food and wine experience in a leisurely weekend meal.  It was also when I first met Chef Massimo Zampar, a true-blue Italian chef who has been putting his personal touch on the menus designed for the restaurant.  While their popular Sunday Brunch continues to please weekend diners, Tosca is introducing a selection of food in set menus for groups between 8 to 12 guests.

I can see the chefs preparing my meal in this dining room!
It’s location on the 13th floor, next to the swimming pool, presents guests with a choice of dining options.  From alfresco dining cooled by balmy breezes near the pool to private dining rooms in air-conditioned comfort, also with stunning views from wide windows.  There are three private dining rooms that may be arranged in various configurations to match the guests’ requirements.

Tosca sets itself apart from others with an open kitchen concept where guests can watch the chefs in action as they create the meals that they will soon serve to diners.  Next to the antipasto table laid out with a spread of delectable appetizers, there is a unique stainless steel arch wood-fire oven to bake Tosca’s range of freshly made wood-fire pizzas.

Private dining room with a
panoramic view of the city skyline

I’m in the largest of the three private dining rooms that gives diners a view of the kitchen through a glass wall.  Chef Massimo assured me that the three set menus designed for private parties, lists proposed items but he would be glad to discuss with guests who are planning a special event, to adjust the menu to their satisfaction. 

With prices ranging from RM150++ per person to RM280++ per person, the menu comprises an appetizer, main course and dessert with coffee or tea.  The Tuscany Family Style Dinner priced at RM200++ per person is the recommended menu as this Tuscan inspired family style menu offers a variety of food to share.

Another private dining room
“This menu is designed for celebration, conversation and sharing – the hallmarks of an authentic Italian meal,” said Chef Massimo with one of his rare smiles.  “Our private dining menus are particularly popular with various groups like social clubs, corporations and celebrations with friends and families,” he added.

He explained that the Antipasto Platter, for example, is served in an attractive spread of Buffalo Mozzarella, Beef Bresaola, Beef Salami, Tomato & Mushroom Brushetta, Caesar Salad and Deep-fried Calamari, enough for everyone to have a share.  The main course comprises four items like Tagliatelle with porcini mushrooms and pecorino cheese, oven-baked whole Sea Bass with fresh Italian herbs, grilled Rib-Eye Tagliata style and braised Lamb Shank.  These come with rosemary roasted potatoes, slow-cooked Roma tomato and green asparagus with parmesan cheese, with a choice of sauces like Bearnaise, mushroom, mustard, black pepper or fish sauce.

Slicing through the mozzarella cheese salad
with view of platter of tuna carpaccio [Top Right]

Tosca’s own-made desserts – tiramisu, panna cotta, chocolate mousse and strawberry layered cake – are among the highly recommended sweets to round off your meal with hot coffee or tea.  Diners who enjoy a spot of wine with their meal can ask for the sommelier for his recommendations from a selection of red and white wines.

While Chef Massimo is talking about the private dining menus, I nibble on a platter of freshly baked breads served with several delicious dips including his recommendation of olive oil.  I remind myself to go slow on the breads because I have to keep some space for the food sampling.  Twin platters of carpaccio – thinly sliced raw meat – in a choice of beef and tuna are served as appetizers, followed by light mozzarella cheese salad.

Chef Massimo serving up pizza!
An Italian meal is not complete without pizza and pasta so I must have a taste of the freshly baked pizza that the chef served and dig into the two choices of aglio olio pasta: lobster linguine and eggplant & ricotta cheese homemade ravioli.  While I’m ready to taste as many items in the menu, I regret that I have limited space to savour only a bite or two of the servings of ocean trout, cod fish, veal chop, rib-eye steak, lamb shank and lamb chop.  But I take my time to sample one dish after another and can appreciate the “light” flavours (as opposed to heavily creamy!) advocated by the chef, to better enjoy Italian cuisine in our tropical climate.

After the main course, Chef Massimo suggests to have a refreshing Lemon Liqueur to settle our meal before enjoying the final course of sweets with coffee or tea.  I receive a tiny tumbler filled with the opaque liqueur and at the first sip I find its tart taste rather agreeable!

A tiny tumbler of Lemon Liqueur to
refresh the palate after the main course
With my palate refreshed, I’m ready for my Tosca dessert experience.  The tiramisu and homemade gelato in three flavours: tiramisu, chocolate chip vanilla and strawberry sorbet, are served in long-stemmed glasses while vanilla panna cotta with caramel sauce and chocolate mousse with strawberry sauce, are presented on plates.  Yes, tiramisu is offered in two choices: tiramisu cake and tiramisu gelato. Yum!

From Monday to Friday, Tosca presents Pranzo Veloce, a 45-minute Executive Set Lunch tailor-made with busy executives in mind.  This promptly-served, well-balanced delectable lunch includes appetizers, a main course and dessert at RM45++ only.

Sunday Brunch from 11am to 3pm is at RM88++ per adult and RM90++ per person with free-flow of house-pouring wine and beer.  DoubleTree by Hilton Johor Baru is situated at 12, Jalan Ngee Heng, 80000 Johor Baru.  Reservations are recommended.  Tel: 07 – 268 6868, Fax: 07 – 268 6888.  Diners also enjoy 50% off on parking at Menara Landmark.

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