Why would anybody bother to search for the "authentic" food of a particular region or country? A simple answer is curiosity. When you have spent most of your life eating food made from similar cuisine cultures you will naturally be curious about what people on the other side of the world are having for dinner.
Take pizza for example. You may have heard about it and have probably ate a few generic-versions of the dish at some restaurant chains, but you would also know that the pizza you eat has already undergone some changes in flavor to better suit the local taste buds. This kind of fusion food may be satisfying enough for some, but certainly does not do for those who are curious about what kind of pizza the people of Italy are eating daily. What is it about the authentic taste of pizza that has made it such a well-known food? This is the question people are trying to answer when they look for authentic tastes.
Retaining the authenticity of a meal when it is made far from home is not as simple as following a recipe.
But the limits of geographical boundaries no longer represent an obstacle. People could have an almost identical food of some region’s famous cuisine if they are willing to go far. But if you are unwilling to go to Italy just for the sake of eating pizza, then you will have to find an authentic Italian restaurant in your area.
Any restaurant that wants to serve region-based specialty menus – the likes of Japanese, Italian or Mexican – have to do their best to recreate the authentic conditions of the food preparation before they can boast about offering authenticity. Having an accurate recipe is the first step. Having a chef from the region you are trying to match would also be a big help, such is the story of Davide Lomanto when he first opened his shop in 2005, A Tavola.
Located in Kemang, Jakarta, Davide’s shop brings together traditional Italian culture with original Italian products under one roof. An earlier incarnation of his shop was a grocery store selling Italian products, but after it evolved into an Italian restaurant, A Tavola decided to use "authenticity" as a central part of the shop's character.
With Davide Lomanto being a native Italian, accurate recipes and cooking methods are easily accessed, transferable through lessons and cooking drills. Therefore, A Tavola went further to reach another important factor of food authenticity: the ingredients. From a grocery store, A Tavola changed focus from selling products to using the products as the ingredients for their food.
Some restaurants try to replace the ingredients of foreign dishes with home-grown ones, hoping to reduce operational costs and selling prices. But some basic ingredients are not easily replaceable as they have distinct features that cannot be obtained when being cultivated or processed elsewhere. Wine grape is the perfect example of such an ingredient. You can’t just grow wine grape anywhere and expect the same taste.
So, A Tavola is going further in its quest for authenticity with a menu full of original Italian products. “The risottos, spaghetti, raviolis, all are made from Italian products,” Donny, the marketing manager of A Tavola, explained. This place even has their own impressive collection of Italian wine, campari (famous Italian beverages), and grappa (another grape-based Italian beverage).
You will be surprised to find that the food on these authentic menus comes at relatively affordable prices, starting from Rp 18.000 (US$2). Bruschetta al funghi is a great choice of appetizer if you fancy some bread with mushroom and melted cheese as toppings. The red velvet cake is also to die for. And if you are up for some wine drinking, pair it up with restaurant's cheese collections – ask for recommendations on which wines and cheeses pair best.
A Tavola really is the place to taste and appreciate original Italian cuisine and enjoy a philosophy of food according to the old Italian lifestyle. You should definitely stop by if you feel that Jakarta – particularly Kemang – is at the peak of rush hour on your way home.
A Tavola Italian Gourmet & Resto
Jl. Kemang Selatan Raya no. 125B
+62 21 7179 3580