Inspired by the picturesque Italian village of Vigonovo that is set amid mountains and beautiful lakes, diners can now taste the true flavors of a rustic Italian cucina in the heart of Kuwait’s kitschy Al Khaled complex in Salmiya.
Simple and uncomplicated, the experience at Vigonovo will absolutely delight diners looking for traditional Italian dishes. You will find Vigonovo as soon as you walk through the doors of Rose Patisserie in Al Khaled complex. Yes, you read that correctly. Inside the patisserie, you’ll see a whole new setup that’s now welcoming diners. Behind the pink façade is a space awash with sky-blue walls and a bright cheerful yellow kitchen. Little souvenirs from Italy adorn the space, along with a modest display of fresh desserts like Tiramisu and amaretto biscuits that, upon inspection, will leave you drooling.
The man behind Vigonovo is Italian chef and operating partner, Marco Fiorot. Previously living in Italy and the U.S., it was both friendship and business that first brought Marco to Kuwait. When it came to opening up a restaurant with business-partner Fahad Al-Mutawa, however, the idea came from the sheer number of visitors Marco would receive over dinner. He laughingly said, “It was endless! Every day they would call me, ask me what’s for dinner, and then shortly appear at my front door.” With a passion for traditional Italian cuisine with a modern twist, Marco wanted to recreate his experience of dishes enjoyed in his hometown right here in Kuwait. He further explained, “You create historic memories through the power of taste. Italian cuisine in Kuwait is available in many formats, from traditional, fusion to American inspired. At Vigonovo, I wanted to recreate dishes from my past, specifically the Northeastern region of Italy where I grew up. The dishes served here are further inspired by my mother’s cooking, and I want to make diners feel that.” From there, Vigonovo was born.
From the preparation of the dishes served to interacting with the happy diners, the vibes at Vigonovo are best exemplified by Marco’s presence. He starts his day at the markets, then returns back to the main kitchen with fresh ingredients to start the day’s prep and set the menu at Vigonovo. At the moment, dining at the restaurant is upon reservation only. He added, “Every time diners are here, there will be something different and interesting on the menu, with dishes that are prepared usually upon the number of reservations as well as the best ingredients available to me on the day.” At Vigonovo, you can opt for a special degustation-size menu where you are given smaller portions of everything that Marco prepared on the day to make for a truly different culinary experience, or you could order a larger portion of any specific dish that appeals to you the most.
We started off our Vigonovo experience by digging into the pastas offered on the first course menu. While waiting for our dishes, Marco loudly announced, to our relief that, “the pasta will be cooked al dente and only al dente!” The first dish was one that has appeared on our Instagram feeds time and time again, The Cupcake Lasagna. Not only is this dish labeled as “a must” on Marco’s chalkboard menu, the name in and of itself is tempting. How could one consume a lasagna in cupcake form? It’s fairly simple, as the rustic classic Italian dish is artfully presented as such. Delicate layers of flavors are the highlight of this dish, and we loved how the flavor of each ingredient really shines through with every bite. Small but mighty, the Cupcake Lasagna is beautifully moreish. We also sampled the Tortellini with cinnamon, pumpkin and smoked Italian ricotta cheese, and again, were blown away by how such a simple dish could pack in so much flavor. To this, Marco shared with us his daily trips to the local markets, and how sourcing the finest ingredients to ensure that his dishes remain authentic can sometimes be challenging but totally worthwhile. More importantly, the trick to a successful pasta dish is balance. With our Tortellini dish, a clever balance is achieved by the sweetness of the pumpkin that was beautifully offset by the smoked Ricotta, the cinnamon smartly brought all of the dish’s elements together and the pasta was, of course, expertly prepared al dente.
Finally, our pasta-filled journey ended with the delectable gnocchi with homemade Ragu. Personally, I’ve always found that gnocchi can be quite heavy as it is usually served with way too much butter. However, at Vigonovo, I finally understood how a simple potato dumpling could be highly addictive. Fabulously fluffy on the inside with a nice bite to it on the outside, the gnocchi carried the richness of the Ragu beautifully, making me wish it remains a staple on the menu.
So far, our pasta experience left us daydreaming about what other creations Marco has in store for Vigonovo’s diners. And when he nonchalantly asked us if we fancied a cheese sandwich, we knew we had to say yes. Dubbed as ‘Toast alla Friulana’, Vigonovo’s take on this classic involves polenta and cheese, and it’s glorious. Prepared out of cornmeal, the polenta serves as the ‘bread’ that holds a more than generous amount of oozing, melted cheese with onions and potato—need we say more? Depending on the day, and what Marco finds at the local market, the second course options could vary from delicate veal to scrumptious seabass. To find out exactly what’s on the menu, you simply have to follow Vigonovo on Instagram and Snapchat, as Marco likes to share his daily journey online to tempt diners with what he plans on preparing at the restaurant on any given evening.
For dessert, we opted for the Berries Pasticcione, a classic pasty with cream and berries, also offered with chocolate for all of you chocohalics out there. The layers of pastry were crunchy and airy, and the sweetness of the cream with the tartness of the berries made for the perfect ending to our meal. That, and a cup of artisanal espresso.
Vigonovo is located in Al Khaled Complex in Salmiya and is open from 5 p.m. Dinner is served upon reservations. To book and for more information, please call 9722 4992. Follow @Vigonovo_kw on Instagram and Snapchat: Fioro89.