Malaysians are an adventurous lot when it comes to food – while we love our nasi lemak, roti canai and char kuey teow, every so often we have a craving for Italian food, and before we know it, we’re hunkering down on an insanely indulgent slice of pizza, stringy mozzarella clinging to the edges causing a happy mess.
Let’s face it, Italian food has found a home in many a Malaysian’s heart.
Recognising this preference and realising that Italian food can be a tad costly in Malaysia, former law minister Zaid Ibrahim and wife Suliana Shamsuddin decided to do something about it.
They opened Nicolinis for two reasons – to offer Malaysians a chance to enjoy delicious, authentic Italian cuisine without having to pay an arm and a leg for it, and to channel a percentage of the business’ revenue to a charity they run in Kota Bahru, Kelantan.
Situated in Merchant Square, Petaling Jaya Nicolinis is a modest cafe, not restaurant which means that while walk-in customers can enjoy their pizzas and pastas inside, the business’ key focus is home delivery.
Speaking to FMT, the couple explained that Nicolinis opened for business a little over two months ago and business has been pretty encouraging.
“We are trying to make Italian food more affordable, so our focus is on delivery,” Zaid said, explaining that the strategy made more business sense as it allowed them to keep operating costs down, the bane of most eating establishments.
So instead of fancy interior decor, and costly cutlery, resources are spent on the more important aspects of the business – quality ingredients and efficient delivery services.
“We hope that by offering delivery services, Nicolinis will become more popular,” Zaid said, adding that the more successful the cafe was, the more the couple could channel to their charity.
When asked if he had a love for cooking, without missing a beat, Zaid said, “I have a love for eating.”
Suliana did agree the couple had a weakness for Italian food.
“We enjoy going to Italian restaurants. It’s also satisfying eating Italian food – pasta, pizzas. It’s simple food – not too complicated. And it’s wholesome food.”
Suliana explained that when it came to Italian food, urbanites either opted for fast foods or fine-dining restaurants, leaving a wide gap in supply for the demand of quality Italian food at affordable prices.
“So Nicolinis is in-between because it is good quality Italian food at very reasonable prices,” she said.
FMT put the Italian cuisine at Nicolinis to the test and chomped down on some of their more popular offerings.
On the home delivery menu is the much loved garlic bread (RM5). This was crispy, salty and buttery with a hint of garlic. The bruschetta with a tomato and basil topping was a refreshing and perfect starter – you can enjoy this when dining in.
Nicolinis’s pizzas are prepared the authentic Italian way, the chef explained. So that means no carb overload from thick, chunky crusts. The crusts here are all thin and crispy just like in Italy and features generous helpings of most everyone’s favourite cheese – mozzarella.
A favourite among customers is Nicolinis’s Pepperoni Pizza (RM28) made with thick lashings of pizza sauce, and topped with beef pepperoni and mozzarella.
If you’re vegetarian, you’ll love either Nicolinis’s Margherita Pizza (RM22) with its basic topping of pizza sauce, mozzarella and basil or their Mushroom Pizza (RM28) with pizza sauce, mozzarella and a generous sprinkling of mushrooms.
If you’re craving something more indulgent, opt for their Four Season’s Pizza (RM30) with a quadrant each topped with grilled chicken, beef bacon, mushrooms and olives.
This pizza is truly mouthwatering and great for sharing with those who have different preferences. Then again, if you have a bottomless pit, you may just want to finish off every “season” on your own – and why not?
If you’re more inclined towards pastas, the selection at Nicolinis is to die for.
The more basic Spaghetti Aglio and Olio (RM18), which is essentially pan-tossed pasta in extra virgin olive oil, roasted garlic and chilli flakes is lip-smackingly good.
If you dine in, Nicolinis also serves up a version with clams that will satisfy any carb and seafood craving in an instant.
For those with a weakness for “rich and creamy”, Nicolinis’s Spaghetti Carbonara (RM23) with grilled chicken in a creamy white sauce may be something you won’t ever want to share – it’s that good!
Beef lovers, you’re in for some mouthwatering Beef Lasagna (RM24) – layer upon layer of homemade pasta sheets, beef Bolognese and mozzarella, expertly oven-baked to perfection.
The Chicken Parmigiana (RM25) is another winner – crumbed chicken breast, topped with pizza sauce, shards of melted mozzarella and grilled in a hot oven. With a side of salad, this is a complete and satisfying meal.
If you live or work close enough to Nicolinis, why not dine in instead? This cafe also serves steaks, and lamb shank and some pretty delectable seafood dishes that are not part of the home delivery menu.
Besides home delivery, Nicolinis also specialises in catering for private parties and big events, so give them a call if you really want to impress your guests.
A-G-12, Merchant Square
Jalan Tropicana Selatan 1
47410 Petaling Jaya
Business hours for delivery: 12pm-9.30pm
Call for delivery: