Osteria-style restaurant Da Maria Bali is currently running special menus to showcase the culinary specialties of regions across Italy — each for two months at a time, and they’ve kicked it off with Sicily.
Located right at the mouth of Seminyak’s “Eat Street,” Jl. Petitenget, Da Maria was born in 2016 and is the joint project of well-known Australian restauranteur Maurice Terzini and Adrian Reed, who opened Bali restaurant/party spot Motel Mexicola.
Da Maria is known for its mod, whimsical bright blue and white design reminiscent of the Amalfi Coast in the 1960s. It’s a favorite amongst bloggers for its aesthetics — and infamous party nights.
We’d never tried the restaurant until a recent media dinner to introduce the “Da Maria x Sicily Program” (as they call the special menu), on the menu’s launch night, June 1, after which we walked away feeling that the Petitenget restaurant really captured the southern Italian character — from the “assaggini,” or first course, all the way to the digestivo, with plenty of fish, eggplant, and blood orange throughout.
The Sicilian menu, put together by executive chef Steve Skelly, follows the Italian meal-time flow of multiple courses and several alcoholic beverage appearances, but items can be ordered a la carte, too.
Our meal got going with the Sicilian 75, a gin cocktail mixed with blood orange, campari, and prosecco (IDR120k/US$8.40). You can’t really get more Italian than this mix.
In starters, we tried the arancini — fried rice balls coated in bread crumbs — with a pea ricotta (IDR80k/US$5.60), making for a nice crispy, savory blend of saltiness and creaminess.
The second Sicilian appetizer on offer is the sardine bruschetta (IDR80k/US$5.60), which really placed us, sensorially, at the Italian seaside. The sardine’s fishiness contrasts with the freshness and zesty flavors of the marinated heirloom tomatoes, lemon, and basil.
Accompanying the meal was a Sicilian red, Vino Planeta “plumbago” nero diavola (IDR140k/US$9.80 per glass or IDR700k/US$49 per bottle). It was smooth with light fruity notes.
The “primi” plate on the special menu is a handmade pasta dish: casarecce noodles with Sicilian pork ragu, smoky eggplant, and Pecorino grated on top (IDR180k/US$12.60). For the uninitiated, casarecce is a twisted short pasta originating from Sicily with grooves that grasp onto and suck up sauce, so each bite is flavor-packed and has all the good stuff without you having to drag your fork around and scoop up sauce.
The “secondi” (yep, you guessed it, the second course) was tuna with caponata, a Sicilian eggplant concoction with some edamame, basil, and lemon. The tuna was lightly seared, fresh and tender, and one of our favorites of the night.
For the “dolci,” AKA dessert offerings, Da Maria has whipped up two Southern Italian treats: lemon semifreddo with orange granita and mint (IDR70k/US$4.90) and a Cannoli with ricotta and honey comb (IDR70k/US$4.90). Both of these were quite rich in their own way and came in larger-than-expected portions, so we recommend sharing if you don’t want to OD on the sourness of the semifreddo or sweet richness of the cannoli.
The Sicilian meal culminated with a digestivo: Arancello Rosso (IDR90k/US$6.30). It’s basically the Sicilian version of limoncello, but made with blood orange, instead of lemon. We love our limoncello, but this take was a seriously satisfying finish to the southern Italian feast.
However, we decided to extend the meal by just a little bit — Da Maria has a pretty strong reputation for excellent pizza, and the restaurant is from the same people behind Luigi’s Hot Pizza in Canggu. Both places let their dough rise for 24 hours, too.
And so, we got a pizza: the pesto pizza (IDR150k/US$10.50) with ricotta, cherry tomatoes, Pecorino, and fior di latte. The crust was some of the best we’ve had to date in Bali — a bit doughy (but not overly so) and eating it was like sinking our teeth into a breadstick at the end of each slice. The combination of herby, savory pesto with the fresh bursts from the cherry tomatoes and rich, creamy cheese was a sharp one-two punch of tastes and textures — a very satisfying grand finale.