Review: Viva Italia in Batu Ferringhi

Update 09 June 2014: They finally painted over the sign for Viva Italia.  It is now Maroush Indian and Arabian cuisine.  The bad reviews in the comments apply to this restaurant even under the new name.

UPDATE 21 April 2014: A comment added below details how things have changed at Viva Italia since this review went up.  They had a horrible experience.

Original post:

For some time, we’ve been meaning to check out the new Viva Italia restaurant in Batu Ferringhi across from Long Beach Food Court.  The claim is that they serve Italian and Mexican food.  Our first two attempts at going there for lunch were a bust, because they were closed.  We finally decided to try again for dinner and sat down at a table outside by the street to enjoy dinner along Jalan Batu Ferringhi.

Next time we go, I am definitely going to opt to eat inside because we were very close to the toxic exhaust coming from the cars, motorcycles and buses on the street.  Despite that, we had a pleasant meal.

We wanted to try both Mexican and Italian food.  The kids ordered the Hawaiian Delight pizza to cover the Italian.  My wife and I ordered the Triple Play fajita platter to cover the Mexican.  The triple play is beef, chicken and prawns smothered in onions and peppers.

Italian food: pizza

Only two slices survive the onslaught my children perpetrated on this poor defenseless Hawaiian Delight pizza at Viva Italia in Batu Ferringhi

What’s left of the Hawaiian Delight pizza my children devoured.

Let’s talk about the pizza first.  It looked good and my kids ate great.  The crust is super thin, like New York style pizza.  The cheese was melted just right so that you could pull strings of it as you served it and as you took bites of it.  In my book those two things are big pluses.  We polled the kids on where the best pizza was in Penang.  The oldest one likes the ones right across the street at Long Beach.  There’s these guys right in the front corner that sell pizza and satay.  The middle one prefers the ones at Bella Marino in Straits Quay.

Well, even if the pizza wasn’t the best in Penang, the kids devoured it and getting these guys to eat can be a challenge.  Granted, pizza isn’t hard to get into a kid.  You might have to wait for my opinion on the quality of the pizza when I eat one of those last two slices that are waiting in the fridge.

Halfway through the Triple Play fajitas at Viva Italia in Batu Ferringhi

Halfway through the Triple Play fajitas at Viva Italia in Batu Ferringhi

Mexican food: fajitas

As Americans we have an idea of what we are looking for in Mexican food.  I know Americans who have been overseas for a few years, and if asked, will tell you the first meal they will have when they get back to the states is Mexican.

The tortilla was authentic, probably store-bought.  Very good, flexible and soft.  The whole things was served with red, white and green sauce.  The red was some kind of salsa.  The white was a sour cream.  The green was guacamole.  They were fair.  My wife didn’t care for the guac, but I liked it fine.

The meat was very good.  We really enjoyed it.  The prawns were not rubbery at all, and the seasoning on the whole platter was incredible.  Don’t expect Houston level fajitas in Batu Ferringhi.  Instead expect a bit of an Asian flair to the dish.  I am guessing that they were light on the cumin you would expect in fajita seasoning, but heavy on fresh chilies.

We have already decided that we will go back and try the tacos and the quesadillas another time.  It’s exciting to have a place in Batu Ferringhi to go and have Mexican food on those days when we’ve tired of Char Koay Teow.

The waiter told us that they just came to Penang, but there are six Viva Italia locations in Langkawi.  There they serve breakfast, and so it is on the menu, but the Batu Ferringhi restaurant is open from 2pm to 1am every day so there isn’t much call for breakfast.

All in all, very positive experience.  Go check it out and comment below.