Ticked away along quiet Tras Street in the bustling Tanjong Pagar district is Italian restaurant Gattopardo Ristorante di Mare, better known for its authentic Sicilian cuisine prepared by award-winning chef-owner Lino Sauro than an actual watering of sorts. But its recently launched ‘Aperitivo Hour’ – which counter-intuitively is actually available anytime during its opening hours – may just change that, elevating the classic Italian afternoon drinking culture to parity with its cuisine.
The traditional Italian aperitivo is a long leisurely affair in the early evenings just before dinner that features quite a number of drinks along with some accompanying eats, and Gattopardo’s Italian aperitivo-style cocktails and wines are perfect enjoyed in its sheltered open air courtyard.
The Aperol Spritz, for example, combines the classic trio of Aperol, prosecco and soda for a very refreshing drink, while the Etna Soil features Monkey 47 gin, averna, lime juice and muddled basil for an equally cooling cocktail for warm sunny evenings. For something slightly more elaborate, try the Sunny Southern of cinnamon and rosemary infused whisky with Grand Marnier and fragola for a fuller, more complex cocktail; those who prefer strength can opt for the Barrel-Aged Negroni, which provides an alcoholic punch with Sipsmith Dry Gin, Vermouth Rosso, and Campari.
All cocktails are $18 each, but each drink comes with a set of three bar bites – what you get depends on the ingredients that are available that day – that are no simple snacks but delicate tasty canapés that help stimulate your appetite. They are also a great showcase of what Gattopardo di Mare’s kitchen has to offer, and is most likely to tempt you to ordering some proper food. And if you do, we recommend the Sardine alla Beccaficu del Gattarpardo ($22), which features stuffed fresh Japanese sardines served simply on toasted bread, or the Polipo ($28) for chargrilled baby octopus that’s incredibly tender and sweet.
For wine lovers, Gattopardo’s aperitivo hour also allows you access to a promotional wine list that carries different wines on a rotational basis ($12 per glass). If you’re in luck you may get to try rarer wines such as the Sicilian 2013 ‘A Rina, Etna Rosso, Girolamo Russo – a blend of two interesting native grapes in Nerello Cappuccio and Nerello Mascalese from eastern Sicily – as well as a 2013 Regaleali Rosso from Tasca d’Almerita featuring the Nero d’Avola, Sicily’s most important red wine grape.
Gattopardo’s aperitivo hour is certainly a great way to spend some time before dinner. The problem is that you may not want to leave.
Gattopardo Ristorante di Mare is located at 34/36 Tras Street. Gattopardo’s aperitivo hour is available during its opening hours of 12-2.30pm and 6.30-10.30pm on Mondays to Fridays, and 6.30-10.30pm on Saturdays. It is closed for lunch on Saturdays and closed on Sundays.