Shangri-La's Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, Taipei invites guests to enjoy three-course lunch sets five-star style at Marco Polo Restaurant on the 38th floor. The lunch sets feature handmade Italian pasta and are available Monday through Friday. The exquisite menu is priced at NT$660 per set and can be served within an hour. For reservations, please call (886 2) 2376 3156.
To help diners who are short on time during lunch hours savor a full set of flavorsome Italian food, Head Chef Marco Priolo of Marco Polo designed express menus that can be served in 45 minutes. Each menu includes three courses – an appetizer or soup, a choice of two pasta dishes and the restaurant’s signature dessert, Tiramisu – priced at NT$660 per set. Four combinations of appetizers, soup and pasta choices are offered on a rotation basis.
The Italian creations feature Chef Marco’s personal favorites, reflecting a hint of his childhood memories and culinary journey. Most importantly, he serves up pasta freshly made in the kitchen.
“My team and I make fresh pasta in the mornings like how Italian mamas do; we do so because I want guests to feel like they’ve walked into an Italian home when dining at Marco Polo,” said Chef Marco.
Homemade Linguine with Mushrooms and Sausage reminds Chef Marco the most of his grandfather, who owns a farmland in northern Italy. The farmland was the chef’s favorite “playground.” His grandfather often took him “mushroom-picking” in the nearby mountains and taught him how to make salami and sausages. The acquired culinary knowledge from Chef Marco’s adolescent years became useful throughout his career.
The first type of pasta Chef Marco has ever hand-made was gnocchi, which his grandmother most frequently prepared for him when he visited. Therefore, it is only natural for Chef Marco to include Potato Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Cheese Sauce and Walnut in one of the lunch sets. According to the chef, Taiwan’s potatoes are of good quality with sufficient starch; they are suitable for gnocchi, which the chef makes by adding eggs, flour and parmesan cheese.
Chef Marco’s favorite pasta dish is Homemade Tagliatelle with Amatriciana Sauce. He explains that this classic dish is simple, yet echoes his philosophy of completing chief natural flavors – saltiness, sweetness and sourness – in one plate. The sauce is a mix of pecorino cheese, cherry tomatoes and smoked bacon. A dash of chili oil adds an extra lift. Freshly made in the kitchen, tagliatelle is a traditional type of long and flat pasta from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. It is commonly made in Italian homes and is ideal for thicker or meat-based sauces.
After completing his culinary degree, Chef Marco arrived in Veneto, Italy, where he obtained his first job away from home. The pasta of the city is called bigoli and is shaped like a long, thick tube. Served in the restaurant with the also-handmade bigoli is a Bolognese style ragout. To prepare the ragout, Chef Marco stir-fries pork and beef with onion, celery, carrot, garlic and herbs; adds in red wine, tomatoes and beef stock; and then cooks it for two hours.
In one of the lunch sets, Chef Marco placed risotto as one of the “pasta” choices, seeing this as a good opportunity to remind or inform guests that risotto is, in fact, “a type of pasta shaped like rice” in Italy. The risotto appears orange after Chef Marco flavors it with pumpkin, adding a tinge of sweetness to the dish. He adds crispy Parma ham that gives a salty taste and additional texture to the creation.
Although Chef Marco was born in Brescia, northern Italy, his father is from the south, in Sicily. To highlight this relation with the location, the head chef presents Chifferi Rigati with Tomato Lentil Sauce and Whitebait Fish to guests. This pasta is shaped like a seashell, in reference to Sicily, where many sandy beaches can be found. Its figure also acts like mini-spoons, for scooping up the tomato-lentil sauce. Whitebait fish is commonly found in Sicilian cuisine.
Other pasta choices include Mezze Maniche with Basil Pesto, Potato and French Beans, and Homemade Angel Hair with Creamy Mushroom Sauce and Smoked Chicken.
In addition to the NT$660 express lunch sets, Marco Polo also offers a four-course set for NT$860, as well as a five-course menu, priced at NT$1,080.
Chef Marco entered the culinary world at the age of 14. Prior to being appointed as head chef of Marco Polo, he worked in top hotels and high-end restaurants, including the Michelin one-star Al Desco Italian Restaurant, Hotel Des Bains in Venice, Mandarin Oriental Hotel at Hyde Park, Grand Millennium Sukhumvit Hotel and The Leela Kempinski Palaces in Mumbai. Before Taiwan, Chef Marco gained experience in several countries, including Italy, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain, Thailand and India.
Marco Polo is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. All prices are subject to 10 percent service charge; Club Plaza members are entitled to 10 percent off. Set menus are served on a rotation basis. Shangri-La's Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, Taipei is located at 201 Tun Hwa South Road, Section 2, Taipei.