Category Archives: Pasta

Zambuca, Italian Restaurant & Bar

zambuca2
Zambuca, Italian Restaurant & Bar
Level 3, Pan Pacific Hotel
7 Raffles Boulevard
Tel: (65) 6337 8086
Website: http://www.michelangelos.com.sg/Main/Default.aspx?ContentId=34
Opening Hours: 11.30am to 2.30pm (Weekdays – lunch)
                                  6.30pm to 10.30pm (Daily – Dinner)

Sweet sweet bf brought me here for  my birthday dinner celebration last year.  First impression was wow! this is a classy place and we were so underdressed.

Nevertheless, we were shown a nice table by the window.  Given it was a Saturday night, the crowd was not hopping at this place.  But this was great for us as we prefer to have a quiet dinner than one with all the noise.

The waiter came and gave us the menus and it was hard to decide what food to eat.  But eventually, we ordered:-

  • 2 glasses of Umberto Bortol (S$16 each)
  • 1 Zambuca salad (S$14)
  • 1 Gnocchi (S$28)
  • 1 Lamb Rack (S$42)
  • 1 Tiramisu (S$12)
  • 1 glass of Lemoncello (S$12)

Food was of excellent quality – I find the lamb very pricey as it was 2 small pieces of lamb chops.  But for someone who doesn’t eat lamb coz of the “lamb-y” smell, this lamb rack is excellent! Portions are sufficient for small eaters.  As in all classy dining places, don’t expect huge portions.  You get quality, and not quantity here. 🙂

Being a great tiramisu fan, this tiramisu is fantastic! Out of this world! Worth every cent! If I have to beg the chef for the recipe, I would have. But too bad, I don’t cook. 😛

The glass of lemoncello is not found on the menu but if you are a fan of Italian food (like bf is), you can simply order it to have after your meal.  Limoncello is traditionally served chilled as an after dinner digestivo.  It is made from lemon rinds (traditionally from the Sorrento lemon, though most lemons will produce satisfactory limoncello), alcohol, water and sugar.  It is bright yellow in color, sweet and lemony.  This one tastes a wee bit lemony sourish.

Overall, a fantastic dining experience. We spent a total of S$164.78 (including taxes & charges) for 2 pax; very pricey but worth every single cent. 

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Mont Calzone

Mont Calzone
38 Pekin Street #01-01
Far East Square
Tel: (65) 6557 2304
Website: http://www.montcalzone.com.sg/
Opening Hours: 11.30am to 3.30pm and from 5.30pm to 10.30pm (Mondays to Fridays); 5.30pm to 10.30pm (Saturdays); closed on Sundays
 

Bf discovered this place as we were wandering around Far East Square, wondering what to have for dinner.

What caught his eye was the thin crust pizza that they had on a huge billboard outside the restaurant.  He, being an Italian foodie, wanted to try it.

On our first visit (we’ve been there two other times since), the waiter recommended the parma ham pizza (which has tomato sauce, mozzarella, parma ham topped with rucola salad and shredded parmesan).  I must say that the saltishness of the ham goes excellently well with the rucola salad and the thin crust pizza.  The crust is biscuit like and you can hear the crunch when you bite into the pizza.  Just be sure to catch the chef on a good day – he burnt the crust once.  The pizza is generously topped with the rucola salad.  At the cost of S$14.90 for an 8″ pizza (S$17.90 for 12″), it is suitable for 2 persons with small appetites to share.  Otherwise, just order a whole pizza for yourself.  I must declare that this pizza is the best value-for-money in Singapore.  Surprisingly, this is not a chef-recommended dish.

We also tried the Risotto.  Although the menu says their risotto is prepared with tomato sauce and seafood, we asked the waiter to inform the chef to prepare it with cream sauce and parmesan cheese instead.  But they served us the one with tomato sauce and parmesan cheese instead. 😦  Bf says that the tomato sauce is too heavy and masked the taste of the parmesan cheese.

We also tried the Aglio Olio but we had the chef do it in the classic style (i.e. with no shrimps but with dressing of olive oil, garlic and chilli).  I have to give this a thumbs down – the pasta turned out to be too dry and not spicy (even though we asked for spicy).  At S$12.90 a plate, portion is good for 1 person only (with small appetite).

Overall, I give the parma ham pizza 10 thumbs up for value and quality (if the chef didn’t burn my crust) but a so-so rating for the rest of the food.  But bf and I will continue visiting this place (because of the parma ham pizza) and we’ll continue to taste the other food items that they have on the menu.  I have my eye on their tiramisu already – just hope that they don’t disappoint.

Jones The Grocer

Pork Sausages Tapas Stilton Blue Cheese Tapas Portobello Mushrooms Tiramisu Cake Rogers Beer
Jones The Grocer
Blk 9 #01–12 Dempsey Road
Tel: 6476 1512
Opening Hours: 9.30am to 6pm, Mondays and 9.30am to 11pm, Tuesdays to Sundays
Website: http://www.jonesthegrocer.com/store/singapore
 

We first visited Jones the Grocer a few months back but as it was after our dinner, we had a walk about the store just to see the range of products that they had.

We loved what we saw, so bf and I went to Jones the Grocer on 16 Apr 2008 to have dinner.  Now, my 1st gripe of the evening started.  Not so much their fault I guess since they do not know if I’m a grocery shopper or diner.  But the waiters at the front door could at least be friendlier.  I had to approach them to ask for a table for 2 and they just told me that it was free-seating.  It being a Wednesday evening, there wasn’t much of a crowd, so we managed to get a nice table to ourselves.

Then my 2nd gripe began.  The menu was not as extensive as we expected it to be.  Given its wide range of pastas, sauces, herbs and all, we expected the menu to be wow! Instead, they had about only 8 main dishes on the menu, out of which 2 were pastas. And mind you, Jones the Grocer does not handle special requests.  For example, we wanted aglio olio (something which we thought would have been easily done since they had all the raw ingredients there) but the answer was “sorry, we can’t do that for you.  There are only 2 pasta dishes on the menu.”  Then I didn’t want peas on my pork sausages and the answer was again “sorry ma’am, we can’t separate the peas.”  Geez!

In the end, we finally settled on our order and we had pork sauages with mashed potato, peas and onions in caramelized gravy (S$21.50), tapas stilton blue cheese & tea soaked figs (S$9.50), tapas baked mushrooms with rocket salad (S$7.00), tiramisu (S$8.50), 1 glass of Pegasus Finale (S$12.00) and 1 bottle of Little Creatures Rogers beer (S$10.00).

Don’t ever order the pork sausages unless you like boiled pork sauages which has a strong taste of pig liver and an unnatural sourish taste (something like spoilt food) in it.  It would have probably tasted better if it’s sliced and then char-grilled with stronger sauce to mask the liver taste.  Definitely a please do not ever try!

The tapas stilton blue cheese & tea soaked figs was a much better choice.  It was my first time tasting blue cheese and I must say I enjoyed it immensely.  The cheese was saltish and you can actually taste a hint of a flavour that’s something like yeast.  Very smooth and creamy and the cheese taste isn’t that overpowering.  BUT the cheese didn’t go too well with the biscuits we were served (can’t remember which type of biscuits it was).  Could have done better with crispbread instead.  It was also my first time tasting tea soaked figs – you can’t taste the tea in the figs but what you get are soft figs.  Still, this dish is definitely much better than the pork sauages.

The tapas baked portebello mushrooms with rocket salad was another disappointment.  I don’t think the mushrooms were baked but boiled.  They even boiled the rocket salad which really spoilt the taste.  Am not too sure what type of cheese they put on top of the mushrooms but it was certainly bland and did nothing much to enhance the flavour of this dish.  The only thing I loved about this dish was that you could smell the portebello mushrooms as the dish was being served. 

The tiramisu was again another disappointment.  We were served tiramisu cake not the tiramisu dessert.  Too much cream and too little rum in this cake made it a huge disappointment.  I was so looking forward to having a good tiramisu dessert.

The glass of Pegasus Bay Finale was a delight for me.  I love dessert wines and this one didn’t disappoint me.  This wine came from New Zealand and it has a golden hue with hints of dried apricots, peaches, honey, scorched almonds and an aroma of beeswax.  Overall, a sweet and rich wine.

The bottle of Little Creatures: Rogers beer is a smooth drinking amber ale with an interesting mix of malts.  An Australian beer with a very strong taste of something like saffron.  Very different from the local beers that we’re used.

Service is not attentive at all; we were given a single glass of plain water when we first sat down.  No refill of the water glass at all even though the crowd was very sparse.  True, we did call the waitress a few times to place different orders but not once, did she top up our water glass.  Used cutleries were cleared pretty fast but as we had ordered more dishes, no replacement of the earlier cutleries were given and we had to take them from the seats beside us.

Overall, bad experience at Jones the Grocer.  I don’t think I’ll attempt another trip back to eat here, and if you must, I would recommend having a go at the tapas (although it’s a hit or miss) or having the cheese platter (S$19.50).  Choose from a list of Australian or New Zealand wines with a sprinkle of French wine.  I think we’ll be better off buying the premium raw ingredients from here and then troop off home to cook.

Ristorante da Valentino

Valentino Valtulina costine di agnello stufate agli aromi
Ristorante da Valentino
11 Jalan Bingka (near Rifle Range Road)
Singapore 588908
Tel: 6462 0555
Opening Hours: Noon to 2.30pm and 6pm to 11pm from Tuesdays to Sundays; closed on Mondays
Website: http://www.valentino.sg/index.html

The story: Ten years ago, Valentino Valtulina, who prefers to be known simply as Valentino, was working in a restaurant in Italy when his boss told him that an Italian restaurant in Singapore was looking for a chef and asked him if he was interested. Then 23, he jumped at the chance.

In Singapore, he worked in restaurants such as Cafe Cafe and Casa Roma and also as an executive chef at Cantina. Two years ago, he opened his own restaurant with his wife Patricia.

Valtulina, who applied for permanent residency in 2005, says that he likes Singapore as it is a vibrant and bustling city.

He says the people here like to eat and enjoy fine dining, so he was comfortable with going ahead with his 45-seater restaurant in Bukit Timah.

The food: Try the signature dishes which include costine di agnello stufate agli aromi ($33.90), stewed lamb ribs in light tomato sauce and aromatic herbs.

The dessert, torta chantilly ($8.80 per slice), which has strips of custard and cream-topped sponge cake sandwiched with chocolate and vanilla cream, is Valtulina’s favourite. It is baked by his sister, Perla, who opened the nearby Pasticceria Da Valentino, a pastry shop, in August last year. 

The restaurant also has pastries and pizzas besides pasta dishes.  Check their website for the full menu.

Note:

This review and pictures were extracted from ST Foodies Club

La Strada

 Pollo Novello Arostito Risotto Dell Giorno
La Strada (part of Les Amis Group)
1 Scotts Road #02-10
Shaw Centre
Tel: 6737 2622 (for reservations) / 6737 2555 (for pizza take-away orders)
Opening Hrs:      Lunch: 12.00pm to 2.30pm (last order); Dinner: 6.30pm to 9.30pm (last order); Closed on certain public holidays; please call to check.
Website: http://www.lesamis.com.sg/webtop/index2.html

 Bf and I went to La Strada on 1 Apr 2008 (Tue) for dinner.  Kind of last minute decision – and I was dressed in shorts & t-shirt.  Too casual I must admit!  Bf kept assuring me that it’s alright – but I didn’t feel good.  Fortunately the staff let us dined there. As usual, after pondering for a long while, we finally settled on the drinks order – a glass of Michele Chiarlo (Italy) “Nivole” Moscato d’Asti 2007 (S$19++) for me and a shot of Hennessy VSOP (S$16++) for bf.  I love dessert wines – so this glass of wine was perfect for me, smooth-bodied and sweet. Then we ordered the Caprese (S$22++), Risotto Dell Giorno (S$30++) and Pollo Novello Arostito (S$35++). 

We were given a few cheese bread-sticks and a small plate of olive oil to start our meal with.   We were then given a piece of warm bread on the side.  No butter was given – Italians dip their bread in olive oil.  Nothing to shout about as these are pretty ordinary stuff. 

The Caprese is made up of buffalo mozzarella with confit Scillian cherry tomatoes, basil agar agar and char grilled ciabatta bread).  We love this starter dish a lot, so very often than not, bf would order this especially when we dine in an Italian restaurant.  Basically, there is not much difference in the Caprese served in any other Italian restaurant as the basic ingredients are the same and you don’t need to cook this dish – just cut and serve.    Again, nothing to shout about.  BUT instead of cherry tomatoes, we were served the normal tomatoes and instead of basil agar agar, we were given basil leaves.  Still, these are minor slights that did not affect the overall good taste of this starter.  The buffalo mozzarella was not overwhelmingly cheesy and was soft to the palette.   

Next, we were served the Pollo Novello Arostito (oven roasted French baby chicken with savoy cabbage, pancetta parcel, filled with shallot and roasting jus).  I love this dish very much – the chicken was roasted just nice with a little crisp on the outside and tenderness on the inside.  This was the highlight of my meal there.  Unfortunately, I did not see/taste the pancetta parcel and if there was shallot, you could hardly taste it in the chicken.  There was definitely no roasting jus on my plate.  It was more like diluted oyster sauce on my cabbage and plate.  Still, the chicken was the star and it tasted great! 

The Risotto Dell Giorno (risotto of the day was done with 3 types of mushrooms – can’t remember which ones they are but one of them is Portobello mushroom).  Risotto is a traditional Italian dish made with rice.   I didn’t quite like this dish – it was served with a brown sauce and it didn’t look appetising.  When I tasted it, it was a bit saltish.  Couldn’t figure out what the sauce was but it just didn’t do for me.  I prefer my risotto rich and creamy. 😛 

Overall, food is a hit or miss.  It’s either you like it or you don’t.  Service is excellent though.  We told the serving staff we were sharing the food and they very kindly separated the portions of each dish for us, so that we were served individually.  This was done without us having to ask for it! They remembered the guests who dined there before – it was bf’s 3rd visit and my 1st and the staff remembered him!  Yes, I would still return to this place again and the Pollo Novello Arostito will be one of my favourite dishes – a huge plus point.   Service is attentive without being intrusive – which is another plus point. And staff who takes initiative gets another plus point.

Funny Lasagna

Funny Lagsana
Funny Lasagna
Block 127, Bukit Merah Lane 1 # 01-230
Alexandra Village
Tel: 6270 5464
Opening Hours: 11am to 10pm, daily

THINK of your favourite pasta dish. Carbonara, say, or maybe squid ink and the always dependable puttanesca.

Now imagine it remade into a lasagna, the ingredients layered in sheets of pasta and held together with a creamy bechamel sauce.

Sounds good? Well, Romania-born chef Peter Bontoi thinks so too. He’s started Funny Lasagna in Alexandra Village, serving 15 kinds of lasagne, alongside the pizza and pasta he’s known for.

The 39-year-old chef has been in Singapore since the mid-1990s, when he came here to cook at the now-defunct Il Piccolo in Bukit Timah.

He’s done things in reverse, going from big to small. He bought over the restaurant and ran it until it became a casualty of the post-9/11 economic slump in 2001. Then he opened a food- court stall in Anchorpoint but left after falling out with his business partner. He’s now found his niche in a Bukit Merah coffee shop.

Like his pizzas and pastas, the lasagne might win him a whole new following. They are generously portioned and the prices, between $5 and $8, won’t cause heartburn.

Neither will the lasagne. The secret, he says, is in the bechamel sauce. He makes this classic sauce of milk thickened with flour and butter with less flour so it doesn’t sit heavy in the belly.

He also livens up the sauce with tangy tomato or pungent squid ink so, despite the humble surroundings, this is not a one-sauce-fits-all type of place.

The squid ink ($7) is the best of the lot. Homemade sheets of inky black pasta are layered with remarkably unchewy pieces of squid and a sauce that’s dark as night. It’s an intense, savoury lasagna and very moreish too.

Those not quite ready to go over to the dark side might like the Pesto-Salmone ($7), made with a flavourful pesto sauce and slices of smoked salmon. Equally good is Spinach ($6), with chicken and mushrooms thrown in and tomatoes in the sauce. This gives the bechamel a hint of tart and saves the dish from being too cloying.

Another winner is the Puttanesca ($6), brightly flavoured with briny anchovies, tart capers and olives. A hit of chilli in this one is very welcome.

Sampling 15 lasagne in one sitting is no laughing matter, but the sauces are light and interesting, and the different lasagne distinct enough from one another.

All Bontoi needs to do now is create a four cheese lasagna, with lashings of gorgonzola, parmesan, mozzarella and ricotta.

Note:

This review was extracted from ST Foodies Club.

Post-Makan Note:
Bf and I went to visit this place on Saturday (8 March 2008).  Fortunately, I knew this place pretty well, so it wasn’t too difficult for me to find it.  If you are not that familiar, just look out for the huge AIA building.  Turn left (AIA building will be on your right after you turn in) and then turn left again.  If you’re driving, you’ll pass this coffeeshop at Blk 127 on your left.  Turn left into the car park.
 
My advice to you is come prepared, especially when you’re driving.  Traffic here is always horrendous; it’ll be difficult to get in and get out.  Parking is always a nightmare.  Coupled with those, you have to wait a long while to get your food.  So come before you’re really hungry.
 
The coffeeshop that houses Funny Lasagna is deserted except for 1 drinks stall and Funny Lasagna.  When we arrived there, I was a wee bit surprised coz half the coffeeshop was not even lighted up.  My first thought was that “Is Funny Lasagna open”?
 
Fortunately to my greatest delight, it was opened!  I was overwhelmed with the many varieties of pasta and lasagna that it was a bit difficult to decide.  So after pondering a little while, we ordered Aglio Olio and Chicken Lasagna.  We wanted to order 2 desserts, Panna Cotta and Tiramisu.  But Chef Pontoi told me “mei you” (don’t have). 
 
After a long wait and watching several people “chasing” for their food, our food finally came!  The first dish, Chicken Lasagna, went to the wrong table and finally ended up on ours.  I love the tomato taste and that the lasagna wasn’t too cheesy.  Portion was just nice for me (small eater) and it costs only S$5! I can’t really taste the chicken in the lasagna; probably it was covered up by the tomato taste.   I gave it thumbs up coz the lasagna didn’t give me that heavy cheesy filling after I gobbled up the food.  Smooth lasagna and excellent value for money.  You can never imagine getting such quality food in a coffeeshop at such a fantastic price.
 
Bf’s Aglio Olio came next.  It came smelling great but what I didn’t like about that dish is that they added black pepper in the pasta.  Aglio Olio is supposed to be spiced up with chilli flakes and not cut chilli or black pepper.  Next time if I order this dish, I will ask them to omit the black pepper so I can taste the pure taste of olive oil and garlic.  Portion is again good for small eaters and it costs S$5 too!
 
We also ordered a Carnivora pizza (Pepperoni, Sausage, Smoked Turkey Bacon, Mozzarella and Tomato Sauce) to-go for my brother.  After 2 blank looks, I finally got the message that to-go pizzas only come in large sizes (he speaks very softly and gently and it’s difficult for someone with hard hearing like me to understand him).  The large size costs S$12 (small one costs S$6; there are only 2 sizes available).  At first glance, the pizza was a bit pale; probably just need more time in the oven.  After interviewing my brother, he said he didn’t like the pizza coz he tasted the fat bacon and the pizza wasn’t crispy.  I toasted the left-over pizza the next morning and I love the cheesiness of the pizza.  The pizza crust is also thin and crispy (maybe because I toasted it).  If only he would bake it in a wood-fired oven….then I would be in pizza-heaven.
 
Anyway, overall, I love the food and the varieties of pizza, pasta and lasagna.  Excellent value for money!!  Be prepared to wait at least half an hour for your food.  Take note of your table no. so that he doesn’t get your order mixed up.  Next up, squid-ink lasagna (S$7)!  And next time I’ll call at least 1 day in advance just to make sure he has desserts before I go (by the way, he only has 2 desserts:- panna cotta and tiramisu).

Etna Restaurant & Pizzeria

Etna Restaurant & Pizzeria
18 Raffles Quay #01-68/69/70
Lau Pa Sat Festival Market
Tel: (65) 6220 5513
Opening Hours: 10am to 11pm (Monday to Saturday)
Website: http://www.sicilia-mia.com/

Bf and I went for our romantic Valentine’s Day at the most unromantic venue… Lau Pa Sat! The first time when I heard we’re having dinner at Lau Pa Sat on V-day, the first thing that came to my mind was “We’re having satay there?” Hehe… before you really dismiss it off as an unromantic venue or think that we’re eating satay, think again! We had it at a very cosy restaurant called Etna Restaurant & Pizzeria.

This restaurant was recommended to Bf by his colleague (an Italian no less), so I told him that food should be quite good there if his colleague says it’s nice.

They had a set dinner for V-day which we had a look-through before we went to the restaurant. However, after arriving at the restaurant, we were informed that we could also order a-la-carte if we wanted to. Going through the menu and calculating the costs, we decided that we were better off eating a-la-carte since we are both small eaters. What we ordered for sharing was the Salad Rugola (S$18), Tag. Nero Seppia (S$22) (squid-ink pasta), Grigliata Carne (mixed grill) (S$32), 2 glasses of Prosecco (S$18) and 1 San Pellegrino (sparkling mineral water) (S$6). Our total bill came up to S$113 for everything.

We were also served an entree of cured meat, cheese, salami and bread sticks (complimentary). Food came quickly and service was great!

The Salad Rugola (rugola is also known as rocket salad) was served with thin slices of parmesan cheese and a good dash of balsamic dressing. The cheese was not overpowering and the balsamic dressing tasted great on the palate. Overall, a good choice for a starter.

Then we had the Tag. Nero Seppia – better known as squid ink pasta to the uninitiated. If you’re thinking squid ink as yucks, think again! I don’t know what other herbs or spices they added to the pasta and squid ink but it was very flavorful. Within the pasta, you could also find pieces of prawns and squid. Be careful when you have this dish – squid ink does not come off your clothes and if you get it on your skin, it will be there for quite a while.

Then we were served the Grigliata Carne – mixed grill. Since the dish came with a piece of lamb, pork, chicken and beef, we specially asked for no beef and the waitress suggested that we replaced that with another piece of pork or chicken. Good service in the sense that they asked us our preference rather than just simply dumping another piece of meat to replace the beef. So we asked for chicken. Our verdict? The chicken breast was nice – a bit on the dry side though. Pork was overcooked and it was placed under the piece of lamb, so some of the lamb’s juice went into the pork. Overall, not that nice except for the lamb which bf said was excellent. Unfortunately we did not have much space for desserts.

Overall, lovely dinner in a romantic setting (despite it being in Lau Pa Sat). Service is attentive without being intrusive and friendly (they kept pouring us our Pellegrino when the glass is half full). Value is good giving the quality of the food we had. It’s better to stick to the pasta and skip the mixed grill. Don’t worry if you are not familiar with the Italian names of the food – they have English description of the food underneath the names. If you are still not sure, you can always consult the friendly waitress/waiter there. And yes, we will definitely be back there again.