The Italian Job

Hailing from the Apulia region in southern Italy, Maurizio Bombini, executive chef at Mandapa a Ritz Carlton Reserve Ubud Bali, learned his kitchen skills at his parent’s restaurant on the shores of the Adriatic Sea. He spilled the beans on what he liked to eat when he was a kid and how his Italian roots play a part in his creations.

For Maurizio, guilty pleasure food falls into a category of foods that evoke memories of childhood. The sentiment came as no surprise as he had a joyful childhood in a home full of foodies and chefs. His favorites are orecchiette con cime di rapa (ear-shaped pasta with broccoli rabe and seafood).

With a childhood filled with eating raw seafood such as sea urchins, clams and baby octopus, Maurizio said he tended to eat well and rarely ate junk food. He also admitted to being a simple man with a lunch menu involving pasta every single day. However, Maurizio recalled the time when he contracted a serious illness due to his habit of eating junk food.

“I rarely eat junk food, I still however eat burgers, fried chicken and french fries. But whenever I go to the store, they have too many foods I can’t recognize and my palate will go crazy. My parents were also very strict. My father owned a pizzeria. I had a serious illness with my liver because every night I used to eat pizza and focaccia. Since that time, they forbid me from eating junk food and I don’t like pizza anymore.”

On his latest venture in Kubu, Maurizio had the idea of combining fine dining with rustic Mediterranean. He chose bamboo and stone over silver cutlery and china. The food he serves is Mediterranean with a twist; imagine hummus with octopus salad and smoky barbequed or eggplant.

“When they gave me this project in my hands, the idea was to make this place a fine dining restaurant but refined. It is fine dining but not too much and absolutely not intimidating. The food is Mediterranean cuisine because it is my roots and it will never go away.”

Among his creations are a lobster salad, barramundi, wagyu beef and log. The lobster salad was given a touch of burrata style. The sweet taste of the Boston lobster is toned down with the bitterness of grapefruit added to caviar. For the barramundi, Maurizio poached the fish in a fish stove with Mediterranean aromatics (basil, onion and a lil bit of bay leaves). The final touch is adding classic saffron sauce and lobster agnolotti.

For the wagyu, he uses specific beef which is not very fatty like normal wagyu because he doesn’t want people to feel heavy.

“Seven or eight degrees of marbling but you can still feel the taste of the meat. Then add puree, classic au truffle juice with some anchovies to give a lil bit saltiness to the dish to balance the richness of the beef.”

For the log, Maurizio believes in working with up to four elements. He is not the kind of chef who uses too many element just to keep the color or aesthetic. He makes a log inspired by Christmas logs. His creation combines a dark chocolate log with passion fruit jelly; bitterness with a sense of sweet.


Jalan Kedewatan, Banjar Kedewatan, Ubud, Bali
T: +62 361 479277
Instagram: @mandapareserve

Written by Tatu Hutami Photographs by AKI April 27, 2017.