An authentic taste of Southern Italy at Black Sheep resto

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Black Sheep bar corner. (photo: IO/Aldo)

IO, Jakarta – From coffee shops to five-star eateries, Kemang deservedly maintains its reputation as a neighborhood well-stocked with a variety of restaurants serving myriad menus.  The latest spot to add to your list of ‘must-visit’ diners is the Black Sheep, an Italian-themed establishment specializing in authentic Southern Italian cuisine.

Diners can enjoy delightful classical Italian dishes created by a team under the direct leadership of Chef Michele Cuozzo, created according to recipes well-preserved and perfected for generations.  So just forget any ‘fusion menu’ in this restaurant – we are talking vintage and old-school delights!

“We focus on presenting traditional, real Italian dishes with very few modifications, such as the addition of specific ingredients.  We also try to present them in our chosen setting of furniture and furnishings, which is the classical touch of traditional Italian that the Capital’s citizens are familiar with,” Chef Michele explained.  And to further accommodate busy citizens of the Capital in need of early breakfasts and late dinners, the Black Sheep opens earlier and closes later than most restaurants: 06:00 a.m. to 01:00 a.m. the next day.

Everything fine in dining starts with good ingredients.  The Black Sheep has specific procedures for storing ingredients before mixing them into dishes fit to serve to customers.  With his experience of working for a number of Italian restaurants all over Indonesia since 1994, Chef Michele watches each step in the quality control and processing of each ingredient at the Black Sheep.  This native Southern Italian citizen also implements ancient methods of dry-aging for a week for each piece of meat to be served to customers, and long fermentation for each batch of pasta dough.

Speaking of pasta, Black Sheep’s spaghetti is among the best dishes in the restaurant.  The glossy homemade spaghetti is black from the ink of the cutter fish mixed into its dough.  Prawns, scallops, and cherry tomatoes make a delicious garnish that complements the spaghetti.

Seafood is frequently found gracing Southern Italian dishes: there are prawns, scallops, crabs, mussels, all fresh and juicy and a great complement to salads and main dishes.  For guests who dislike seafood (or even allergic to it), there are many other items on the menu to try.  “Another distinctly Southern Italian pasta that I introduce here is the Gnocchi Alla Sorentina.  Gnocchi is made of mashed potatoes mixed with cream, nutmeg powder, and salt.  After a deep fry, gnocchi is served with tomato sauce, fresh basil leaves, and pieces of mozzarella cheese,” said Chef Michele.

Speaking of distinctly Italian dishes, a menu is not complete until you put pizza on the list.  One of the Black Sheep’s signature dishes is the 1-meter long pizza that people can joyfully share.  Chef Michele told us a bit of the history of pizza in Italy.  He said that even though everyone thinks only of Italy when they hear the word ‘pizza’, it is actually a Greek flatbread adapted by the Romans.  The word ‘pizza’ itself, meaning ‘flatbread’, was first encountered in the Greek port town of Gaeta.  When the Romans occupied Greece, they adopted this dish and took it home to Italy, specifically to Napoli, and it spread from there.

Michele said the first pizza was not round, but rectangular.  In South Italy, pizza is not made too thin, so that the crust remains slightly chewy after being baked for some minutes.  “The main characteristic flavour of Southern Italian pizza is the broccoli that grows only in that area.  So they sauté broccoli together with sausage and sprinkle it on the pizza crust.  The broccoli is harvested after a growth of 42 days,” he says.

Other than the selection of authentic Italian cuisine, Chef Michele also creates magnificent meat dishes.  Mixed Grilled Pork is one of Black Sheep’s unique culinary creations. This gargantuan dish is a mixture of various processed pork meats, such as pork sausage, pork comfit, pork ribs, and pork chops, all served on a great wooden plate.  It is complemented by mashed potatoes, mushrooms, and mixed with sautéed vegetables.  As the final touch to the creation, Chef Michele garnishes it with olive oil.  “And for fans of raw meat, we also serve Carpaccio Di Manzo – a sliced tenderloin beef combined with mixed salad, parmesan cheese, and seasoned with olive oil and lemon,” concluded Chef Michele.

More than just a restaurant, the Black Sheep is also a sports bar.  This is why men in need of clean relaxation and hearty eating crowd the Black Sheep at night, then bring their families with them on weekends.  A reminder: the Black Sheep operates from 06:00 a.m. to 01:00 a.m., and it’s a great place to dine in alone or with others, for family and business, whether for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or weekend meetings.

(Muhammad Akbar)