Having the Ferrari GTC4LussoT for the weekend, it seemed rather fitting to take the family out for an Italian meal, we chose somewhere rather special.
Behind the door of a seemingly unremarkable building in 365 Dominion Road is Napoli, well certainly its cuisine. Monzu serves up some of the finest Italian food on the planet, food that is fit for a King, or more importantly, a Queen. Be advised, this is NOT your normal, run of the mill pizza and pasta joint.
Monzu’s history is as delightful as the food it creates. The word ‘Monzu’ is the Neapolitan servant’s interpretation of the French word Monsieur (they found the original hard to pronounce). However, the Monzu ‘tradition’ dates back to the eighteenth century, when Maria Carolina of Austria (the sister of Marie Antoinette of France) married King Ferdinand IV of Naples. Unimpressed by what she regarded as the lack of sophistication in the Spanish-influenced court, Maria Carolina brought chefs to Naples and began a food revolution that would forge the distinctive Neapolitan cuisine from its French and Spanish influences. Gaetano Spinosa and Flavia Nascimento bring all this tradition and heritage to life here in their restaurant Monzu.
The restaurant’s interior decoration is quite an eclectic mix. Black and white family photos adorn the walls alongside brightly coloured artistic prints. Dark wood wine racks and cleverly detailed, highly chromed metal ‘curtains’ break the dining area into cozy sections while the overall environment is one of togetherness. The staff are attentive but not intrusive and the welcome you receive from your gregarious host Gaetano is one of sheer Famiglia.
As with all good restaurants the main attraction centres around the kitchen and the huge serving hatch doubles as your window into all the action. I watched as Monzù Flavia H. do Nascimento worked her magic, bringing a multitude of mouthwatering flavours and centuries of culture together in a dish.
The menu is both simple and yet rather confusing. At the heart of Neapolitan cuisine is their long-held passion for pasta (Introduced during the reign of Frederick II of Swabia in the Middle Ages, it remains an essential element to every Neapolitan meal), but you’ll struggle to find Italian stalwarts such as ‘spag boll’ or tortellini. In their own words, ‘Monzu is a collision of ideas… Expect the unexpected’. They invite you to be adventurous and by that I mean go ‘off menu’ as much as possible. In all seriousness, what could be better than having a professional chef such as Monzu Flavia lovingly create a dish especially for YOU? Gaetano simply asked for our choice of seafood or beef and we left the rest up to them.
The result was truly delicious, a feast for both the eyes and the taste buds. The antipasto was an array of finely crafted tastes. Eggplant and zucchini residing harmoniously on a plate with meats and spices. My mouth is watering again as I write this. But all this was just a prelude to the main course.
For me, the surprise that arrived was a large plate filled with cavernous tubes of penne styled pasta smothered in a rich ragu, topped off with a fist-sized ball of slow roasted and herbed beef and all gently sprinkled with melted Italian cheese. The rest of the families choices were of equal magnificence, with the wife’s being seafood based. Their taste, texture, and presentation were simply outstanding – and all thanks to Maria Carolina (oh and Monzu’s Gaetano and Flavia).
My parting advice is to wear baggy pants, believe me, you’re going to want to lick the plate by the end of the meal – it’s that good!
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