Milani Café: A fusion of Italian and Samoan

By Samantha Goerling ,

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Menu mastermind Dora Rossi shows off the signature Coconut Pineapple Cake.

Menu mastermind Dora Rossi shows off the signature Coconut Pineapple Cake.

Run by lovers of local produce, Milani Café has crafted a menu, which features a fusion of Samoan and Italian flavours.

The café was opened in October 2013 at the Gold Star Building in Apia by brother-sister duo, Giovanni and Dora Rossi. 

Both are half Samoan-half Italian and Dora, who was described by her brother as the mastermind behind the menu, studied at the Culinary Institute in Italy. 

So for her it was clear the direction that she wanted to take the café - a Samoan-Italian infusion.

These Italians roots and culinary expertise moulded the style of cooking, explained Dora.

“We are half Italian. Our father is Italian and our mother is Samoan. It’s second nature for me to cook Italian.” However, the unique dishes come from the use of locally grown ingredients.

“I try to incorporate Samoan ingredients with my Italian way of cooking.”

The café is supplied with organic Samoan produce through a Farm to Table program run by Women in Business.

“I try to incorporate as much local ingredients as possible. I think the future should be in that direction going back to the land.”

One interior wall of the café even proudly holds the message “we support our local farmers and so do you by eating here.”

For Dora Rossi, cooking is not just a profession but a passion of love.

“Cooking makes me happy. I love to cook and I love to bake. I love to make people happy through food, I really do,” she said.

It certainly does seem that Dora is successful in this field with many people placing orders for special occasions such as birthdays and Christmas.

One dish that’s in demand is the signature dessert which has even received the approval of the Prime Minister - the towering Coconut Pineapple Cake. A slice of this delicious layered sponge cake is concealed in fresh coconut shavings. Local pineapple is used in the light sponge, creating a delectable combination of flavours. This is a perfect example of the menu design around local produce.

“I use fresh coconut shavings. When in season I use fresh pineapple as well. It’s all about the farm to table and keeping the money in Samoa,” explained Dora Rossi. 

A variety of options are available on the breakfast menu including the Mini Misiluki Banana Loaf, Breakfast Quesadillas, and the B & B Pancake stack (bacon and banana). 

Breakfast is priced from $15 to $26.  

The lunch selection varies in price from $15 to $32 with Dora identifying the most popular as the Chicken and Green Papaya Salad. For $25 this dish is a combination of shredded roast chicken, fresh papaya, green beans, fish sauce, lime juice, fresh chillies and peanuts. 

Drinks include coffees, teas and smoothies such as the Papaya, Samoan Slam and Koko Samoa smoothies and even a Protein Shake. However the drink that steals the spotlight is a coconut Iced Mocha. This rich drink uses freshly squeezed coconut milk and has a hit of vanilla.  

The conscientious menu caters for all with a variety of vegetarian and gluten free meals. Soy milk is also available for those who love their coffee but are lactose intolerant.

To try this deliciously unique fusion drop into Milani Café on weekdays between 7:30am and 3pm, or on Saturday between 7:30am and 1pm. Phone: 20584 or 7745084

© Samoa Observer 2016

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