Italian food is bold and satisfying without being heavy; which is why I enjoy it. It is rich in texture and is more of a celebration of produce where bold flavours are a result of fresh herbs and vegetables. Traditional ingredients play a major role in authentic Italian dining. From the sauces to cheeses and even the cooking methods.
A new Italian restaurant was recently opened in Westlands. Cipressi (pronounced Chipressi) is located at Rhino House, next to Mirage Building along Nairobi's Waiyaki Way. Being an Italian cuisine lover, I was excited to explore what new dishes they will be serving up.
Named after Cypress trees, it is a spacious spot with a casual ambiance. Miniature cypress trees form part of the décor with numerous pots lined across the floor space. “We decided to open Cipressi after the realisation that authentic Italian cuisine is missing in Nairobi,” says Bobby Aroura, the co-owner of Cipressi and its sister restaurants, Khazanah and Thai Village at Village Market and Asian Gardens next to the US Embassy.
“Italian food served in Nairobi is not the same as that served in Malindi. Italian restaurants in Nairobi provide dishes that have been influenced by other cuisines available hence it lacks authenticity “he adds. Cocktail prawns, for example, is a popular dish in Italian restaurants in Nairobi. Their recipe, however, gives this dish a unique twist. To make this dish, they use king size prawns battered in a tempura flour to achieve crispiness.
The prawns are then fried, and served with spicy mayonnaise, resulting into a flavourful meal that is different from what you would otherwise find at other restaurants in Nairobi.
The talent behind Cipressi’s menu is the Michelin 2 Star executive chef, Silvio Morelli with a wealth of experience spanning across the globe.
We had a chance to indulge in his culinary creations over dinner where we sampled meals such as the Pappardelle pasta with porcini mushroom, white truffle and creamy sauce, Ossobuco ala Milanese —veal in tomato sauce and risotto, and the prosciutto funghi pizza (with roasted garlic, prosciutto ham, mushrooms, mozzarella and tomato sauce).
The Pappardelle pasta was a hearty and comforting decadent dish with lots of cream. The Ossobuco, a slow braised veal dish was tender, tearing off the bone with the slightest touch of a fork. The pizza served up zest and unique tangy flavours from the combination of tomato sauce and prosciutto ham.
If you are a lover of Italian cuisine and would like to take your taste buds on a culinary trip to Tuscany, a visit to Cipressi will be worth your while.