Pizza and pasta come to mind when one talks about Italian cuisine, but the rich culinary hertiage dating back 1000 years (and more) has so much to offer. Join us as we go on a delizioso journey through the riveria right at our doorstep.
Meat & Seafood
In Italian cuisine, there is definitive meal structure that determines the order of the dishes. After your aperitivo (a small dose of liquor), antipasto (appetisers) and primo (pasta), it is time for il secondo, the second main course that features heavier dishes like chicken, red meat and seafood.
Where to eat: Jamie’s Italian
While this may not be the most traditional of Italian joints, the restaurant chain is popular for its family-friendly atmosphere and affordable prices. Celebrating spring with a seasonal menu that varies according to each branch, new offerings include the Fish in a Bag ($32, available at both branches) and the Balsamic Braised Beef (37.95, available at The Forum). With the former it’s guilt-free eating as you tuck into sustainably fished salmon (or tuna at The Forum) with Puy lentils, Italian greens, roasted pumpkin, salsa verde, and chilli to give it a little kick. If you’re craving red meat, sink your teeth into the tender braised beef, which has been slow-cooked for eight hours, simmered in red wine, and served with olive oil mash, spicy horseradish and parsley. Forum the Shopping Mall, 583 Orchard Road. Tel: 6655 7676. #1-165-167, Vivocity, 1 Harbourfront Walk. Tel: 6733 5500
Sure, we all love a good tiramisu, but it’s harder to find a good cannoli in Singapore. This pastry is a staple in Sicilian cuisine, and consists of fried dough in the shape of a tube, with a sweet, creamy filling – usually ricotta. On the other hand, the origins of tiramisu are often disputed with most claiming it to be from the Northern regions of Veneto, Piedmont and Friuli-Venezia-Giulia. Sponge fingers are soaked in coffee (and sometimes alcohol), and layered with a mixture of mascarpone, eggs, and sugar, before being sprinkled with cocoa.
Where to eat: Etna Italian Restaurant
Opened in 2006, this stalwart of authentic Sicilian cuisine has been whipping up sinful cannoli and tiramisu ever since. Named after the famous volcano, their ingredients are sourced from artisanal suppliers. Think Sicilian cannoli shells, candied fruits, ricotta cheese and the pure pistachio paste from Bronte. The latter is famous for green and gold pistachios that flourish in the lava-rich soil. Sip some Passito ($16) and indulge in the Cannoli Etna ($12), filled with ricotta, candied fruits and chocolate chips, or the pillowy Tiramisu’ Al Pistacchio di Bronte ($14). 49/50 Duxton Road. Tel: 6220 5513
This cheese is known as fior di latte, “the flower of milk,” when it’s made from cow’s milk. The other version comes from the milk of water buffaloes and is known as Mozzarella di Bufala Campagna, and carries the Denomination of Protected Origin (D.O.P) label, which guarantees it was made in a certain area – in this case the region of Campania, which includes Naples and the stunning Amalfi Coast.
Where to eat: D.O.P Mozzarella Bar & Restaurant
D.O.P Mozzarella Bar & Restaurant serves the best buffalo and cow mozzarella from the Campania region, where owner Luca Iannone is from. Start off with the Mozzarella Ball ($17), where Parma ham, basil and sundried tomato is stuffed inside a large cheese ball before being fried. Try the Homemade Scialatielli ($28) pasta that is cooked in creamy black truffle pesto and displayed in a hard buffalo cheese bowl. If you’d like more variety, the Make Your Own Antipasto Platter ($32) is for you. Choose from one type of mozzarella that includes buffalo, cow, smoked buffalo, smoked burratina; one cold cut (such as Parma ham) and one side dish – we recommend the baby spinach with balsamic vinegar and olive oil – and your platter is done. 60 Robertson Quay, #01-04A, The Quayside. Tel: +65 69080830.
Pizza varies from region to region, though the birthplace of this yeasted flatbread is Naples. The city has even been awarded a spot on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list, thanks to their traditional pizza twirling technique, known as pizzaiuolo.
Where to eat: Al Forno
This East Coast institution has been churning out traditional wood-fired pizzas for 23 years. Hailing from the South of Italy, chef-owner Alessandro di Prisco creates a warm, friendly atmosphere. Professional Italian pizza chefs prepare the fresh pizza dough daily, letting it rise over 48 hours. In addition to the the popular Pizza Margherita ($23), signatures include the savoury Calzone ($26) and the Pizza Primavera ($27). The former is a folded pizza stuffed with ham, mushroom, mozzarella cheese and served with tomato sauce, while the latter is a filling ode to spring, with fresh rocket leaves sitting on top of mozzarella cheese, Parma ham and tomato sauce. 400 East Coast Road. Tel: 63488781
Italian cuisine would not be complete without pasta. Coming in all shapes, sizes and flavours, each region has its own special way of preparing different pasta dishes. For example, the tubular shaped penne comes from Campania and is traditionally served with arrabiatta, a spicy sauce, while in Sicily it’s ziti, the fatter version of penne. The latter is usually baked with ricotta and parmesan in a marinara sauce.
Where to eat: Pasta Brava
Located in a beautiful shophouse on Craig Road, Pasta Brava offers generously portioned pasta served by the friendly service staff. Chef Rolando Luceri’s Spaghetti Al Cartocchio Del Barcarolo Alla Marinara ($26.50) is a treat, where whole crayfish is served with spaghetti, garlic, herbs and tomato sauce in parchment paper. Their homemade pastas are equally enjoyable – the Stracci Ai Gamberi E Capesante ($25.50) sees their handmade pasta covered in a moreish saffron cream sauce, with juicy scallops and prawns. 11 Craig Road, Tanjong Pagar. Tel: 6227 7550
While everyone is now able to enjoy a scoop of gelato, it started off as a treat for the aristocracy in the 16th century. Local gelato flavours have popped up here and there but nothing beats the original.
Where to eat: Venchi
Venchi’s rich and smooth gelato is produced according to the traditional Italian way – no gimmicky rainbow gelato here. With 10 decadent flavours, we recommend the seductive and fragrant Giandujotto, a type of thick chocolate blended with Piedmont hazelnuts, or flavourful Pistachio. For those with a sweet tooth, the Mascarpone with Figs or refreshing Lemon gelato is sure to please. Available in three sizes, in your choice of a cone or cup, with various toppings (Baby/$6.90, Regular/$8.90, Large/$10.90). Basement 2, Takashimaya, 391 Orchard Road. Tel: 6235 4088. Marina Bay Sands, N.2 Bayfront Avenue. Tel: 6688 7010