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Painting Kuta Red: Rosso Vivo Bali

Published 06 January 2011   

Bucking the trend is fun, if you can get away with it. and it seems Rosso Vivo on Kuta Beach is working At crossing Kuta’s culinary line and loving the attention.

A slick, mid-range Italian diner along this culturally deprived strip may seem somewhat incongruous but three years down the track the open-air restaurant is proving there is a market for good food in Kuta, and people will pay for it.

Literally painting the town red, Rosso Vivo is difficult to miss with its brilliant red umbrellas and plush, vibrant sofas lining the street opposite the beach. It stands out in more ways than one.

Technically this is a hotel restaurant, operating out front of the aging Kuta Seaview Hotel, which is thankfully in the throes of converting to a boutique hotel. This will finally give the polished restaurant at the front a comparable property behind.

Rosso Vivo is also blessed with a skilful and creative Italian chef, Roberto Bogni, formerly of Lotus Fine Foods and Maccaroni Club, who has demanded, and been blessed with, a kitchen that would be the envy of some five star hotels. He is very Italian in his view on ingredients and methods and brings me out a platter with a stunning piece of Australian Mulwarra tenderloin, two huge fresh oysters and plump, chilled scallops to prove that the prices are a reflection of the finest ingredients he insists on.

With pizzas pushing up Rp100,000, I was curious about his food costs and whether Kuta would handle it. Apparently, defying the trend, the business has grown steadily in the three years they have been open.

The menu covers all the bases for an Italian. The starters include those fabulous oysters Chef Roberto showed me, the scallops as well. There is a suggested menu at the front, which includes Roberto’s hand-made pasta and other Italian specialties. There are about ten various pastas, a large salad menu, an entire page devoted to fish (both local and imported), meat dishes and then desserts.

Roberto started life as a pastry chef before moving into other areas of gastronomy. This may explain his sunny nature. In my experience pastry chefs are happy people.

I stayed with simple for my lunch and chose a grilled sea bass with rosemary potatoes, a wonderful avocado salsa and a lemon, parsley sauce. You can’t hide any mistakes with this kind of meal, and it was very good. The fish well-cooked, the potatoes were crisp and flavoursome and the avocado was a welcome surprise, nicely dressed with fresh herbs. Good seaside food.

Rosso Vivo also has a pool on the terrace so it is a popular place to spend the afternoon, cocktail in hand, a child or two won’t be out of place, set a little away from the main dining room, but still connected.

Roberto has assembled the menu and is hands on in the kitchen. Creating the menu he says, “with a little of what I like and a little of what the customer wants.” He likes a little garlic in his carbonara, so he puts it in an otherwise perfect execution of this classic dish. His philosophy is pretty simple; if you use the best possible ingredients you will get very few complaints. If you know how to cook, that really helps, and he does.

Rosso Vivo also offers an afternoon tea, a far more English adaptation than you may be expecting. His tiny jewel-like desserts, a nod to his flair and creative presentation, offer the eye as well as the palette something to feast on.

Rosso Vivo is a genuine seaside delight by day and a more sophisticated and romantic place by night, although any time of the day this is a stylish retreat. Don’t be scared to wear a little red of your own, Rosso Vivo has proved it works for Kuta.

Rosso Vivo
Jalan Pantai Kuta
Kuta, Bali.
T: +62 361 751961
www.kutaseaviewhotel.com