By now, it’s a known fact that Jakartans love their Italian food. So when the opportunity arrived, it was a no-brainer for Chef Jonathan Tjandra to open an Italian joint on the ground floor of Bumi Pakubuwono.
Franco Ristorante’s rendition of Italian food presents itself as “modern”, where subtle twists play out here and there, all whilst remaining palatable for the masses. “We don’t call ourselves traditional Italian, but it’s not fusion either,” the Le Cordon Bleu alumnus explains. “I like calling it modern Italian because I think it’s a broader term.” One that opens up to unexpected ingredients and daring tastes, which may easily translate to the Indonesian tongue as medok, according to Chef Jonathan.
The Hot Burrata best epitomises this: a plate of whole fresh burrata perched above a bed of tomato-chilli paste, drizzled with sesame oil and accompanied with a side of good old focaccia. But it’s the house-made furikake that truly elevates the dish, sprinkled generously like confetti for a celebration of colour, texture, and umami. It’s a mild adaptation inspired by the Strange Burrata dish he had in Australia, which was served with spicy Sichuan Mala sauce.
Chef Jonathan’s inclination towards complex flavours continues to be seen through Franco’s expansive menu. For starters, the Hamachi Crudo is vivid in colour, taste and presentation where raw hamachi slices swim in sharp and tart coriander dressing with bites of blood orange and jalapeno; a dinner menu exclusive, it’s an appetiser that showcases the chef’s desire to explore Italian cuisine further.
A main course that has got customers talking is the Dry-Aged Duck, aged for 11 days and half-roasted so any gamey odour effaces in favour of savoury fragrance. The meat is tender and earthy, with undertones of sweetness picked up by the honey and grilled cherry berry jus. The quintessential tiramisu to close the meal is also accentuated in Mamamisu, in which Franco’s generous ratio of Kahlúa would cause many to nominate it as the strongest tiramisu in town.
For Chef Jonathan, hearing “This is interesting” from customers is one of the highest praises. Whether it be through the unexpected meeting of burrata’s sweet creaminess with the spicy tangs of a tomato-chilli reduction, or the hominess of wooden floors and house plants suddenly livened with brightly-coloured stained glass windows, Franco Ristorante aims to leave a pleasant surprise.