Block 127, Bukit Merah Lane 1 # 01-230
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.
This review was extracted from ST Foodies Club.
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).