A Taste Of Italy: Sofitel’s Spiral Buffet presents Chef Toni Rossetti

Following the recently concluded “A Taste of Australia” wine-and-dine, through the initiative of Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel, another special wine dinner was held, this time at one of Spiral Buffet’s private rooms for a select few of Manila’s top bloggers, including WhenInManila.com.

We expected the gathering to be a relaxing and satisfying one, but nothing too awesome, only to have ourselves corrected later that night, as the event turned out to be one of the most unforgettable dining experiences we’ll ever have (you’ll see why further below).

A Taste of ItalySpiral Buffet’s “Hidden” Room

A Taste of ItalySanta Cristina Pinot Grigio (white wine)

A Taste of ItalySanta Cristina Toscana (red wine)

The entire course was prepared by none other than Executive Chef Toni Rossetti himself, owner of Noti Restaurant & Bar in Singapore. Did you know that Noti, aside from being an anagram of Chef Toni’s name, also means “famous” in Italian? Now you do!

A Taste of ItalyChef Toni Rosetti (left) in action

We found ourselves in a gastronomical adventure to southern Italy as Chef Toni cooked for us his own and his mother’s signature dishes, all of which he serves at Noti. In short, we got ourselves to taste food which we otherwise could have tasted only if we went to Singapore! And now, you get a preview (unfortunately not a free taste) of it!

The dinner commenced with a four-set combo. As expected, it only made us crave for more of Chef Toni’s cooking. The arancini, or risotto balls, is actually a specialty in Italian cuisine, and Chef Toni’s version of it certainly does not disappoint!

A Taste of ItalyDeep fried risotto balls with fresh mozzarella and spicy arrabiata sauce, with Italian style cold cuts in the middle

The prosciutto-wrapped, pan-fried mozzarella was easily one of our favorites. It was the first time we’ve tried it, and yes, it was love at first taste.

A Taste of ItalyFresh mozzarella wrapped in prosciutto di parma, served with tasty and spicy calamari

The tomato and mushroom bruschettas formed one heck of an appetizer double team! The phrase “simple and satisfying” has never sounded so true!

A Taste of ItalyBruschetta with tomatoes and basil

A Taste of ItalyBruschetta with mushrooms and melted cheese

We then moved on to finally enjoy those dishes which Chef Toni learned from his mother, his first ever cooking teacher. Adding his own style to these heirloom recipes, Chef Toni now serves them at Noti.

The second part of the dinner started with a hearty serving of the famous gnocchi, one of the Noti’s bestsellers. In its effortlessness, the dish was beyond description. Up until now, we are in awe at the potato dumpling’s unique texture, which came with an equally unique (and addictive) taste thanks to the pesto ‘salentino’!

A Taste of ItalyHandmade gnocchi with tiger prawns and pesto salentino

This eggplant dish is a must-try both to foodies and non-foodies, as the flavor balance between the eggplant, the meat, and the sauce is one of a kind.

A Taste of ItalyStuffed aubergine with mixed minced meat in basil tomato sauce

Orecchiette, which in English means “little ears”, is the signature pasta from Chef Toni’s hometown, Puglia, Italy. If his fellow townsfolk could only get a taste of Chef Toni’s orecchiette, we’re sure they’d be proud of him!

A Taste of ItalyOrecchiette with pork salsiccia, porcini mushroom, chili, and garlic

This taglioni dish was cooked especially for us. It cannot be found in Noti’s ordinary menu. Personally, this off-the-books dish was the best dish in the entire course, to the point that we even suggested that Spiral introduce the dish in one of their ateliers! It was THAT good!

A Taste of ItalyCreamy taglioni with bacon and mushrooms

Finally, the gianduia mascarpone cheesecake was the fitting way to cap the entire experience. The genuine giuanduia chocolate complimented the mascarpone with understandable faultlessness. Everything about it felt right; we instinctively craved for more because of its luscious sweetness, but stopped ourselves because we knew that taken in moderation, the dessert was the perfect end to an already perfect evening.

A Taste of ItalyGianduia Mascarpone Cheesecake

Indeed, Chef Toni Rossetti has gained the admiration of both culinary experts in the country and simple foodies like us. It helps that he is such a delight as a person and chef, always hands-on with his food and always interactive with his guests.

If ever any of you guys will be going to Singapore any time soon, make sure to drop by Noti Restaurant & Bar at Club Street in the city and look for Chef Toni. He’ll be more than delighted to be visited in his own resto.

As for us who can’t afford to go to Singapore in the near future, let’s hope Sofitel’s Spiral Buffet will incorporate some of Chef Toni’s signature dishes in their European atelier. If not, then let’s hope Chef Toni’s return visit to the country happens sooner than later!

Cibo molto bueno!



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Photos by: Chelsea Eichel Dauz