bar Milano brings a frittered slice of Italian eating and drinking to Singapore’s Keong Saik Road nightlife enclave.
As though we’re not already spoilt for choice when it comes to dining at the Keong Saik Road stretch, here comes a new option. bar Milano – opened by the same folks behind Pasta Bar and tucked alongside it – is a laid-back Italian bistro and cocktail bar perfect for balmy aperitivo evenings.
With its restored vintage furniture and Italian hand-painted tiles, small 38-seater bar Milano exudes that cosy-chic vibe one most associates with those casual hole-in-the-wall eateries one finds in many central European cities like, say, Vienna or Milan. Which is, of course, the inspiration behind it.
Unlike its sibling Pasta Bar that’s built around a menu of freshly made pasta dishes, the offerings at bar Milano are more of the nibbly kind. You know, those suited for having drinks with over convivial conversation. Indeed, chances are you’re going to be reaching for the drinks list before perusing of its food offerings.
There’s a spritz bar here, which one should avail oneself to during the evenings (or lunchtime, if you’re of that sort) especially when the weather’s warm and humid. There’s the crisp and tangy Bianco Spritz – made with Cocchi Americano and house-made sweet and sour syrup, and then topped off with prosecco – which does well in washing off the dust of the day. The Lambrusco Spritz is sweeter but no less refreshing; Manchino Chinato, cherry syrup and (the much-maligned Italian wine) Lambrusco combine for a decidedly fresh and fruity tipple.
bar Milano offers sterner drinks, of course. A Gin Martini, for example, if you want something truly punchy, or the Barrel-Aged Negroni, the classic cocktail matured in oak for a mellower flavour. To open up one’s appetite, though, the juicy Italian Bloody Mary – made with freshly-pressed San Marzano tomatoes – is it.
You might like the incredibly moreish Olives Ascolana – essentially fried olives stuffed with minced pork – or the classic Fritto Misto of battered seafood if you’re feeling peckish. More unusual is the rather yummy combination of Burrata & Peaches, which plays off the creamy saltiness of the burrata against the sweetness of the stone fruit. We weren’t too sure about Steak Tartare though, which – thanks to the use of anchovy-based bagna cauda – made it taste like a bizarre hybrid of a steak tartare and a vitello tonnato.
But bar Milano’s main menu attraction is its range of pizza frittas, a Napoli street food favourite that consist essentially a fried pizza disc loaded with a variety of toppings. We really did enjoy our Napolitano, with the very classic combination of tomato, buffalo mozzarella and basil. The fried dough base – which tasted somewhat like a deflated South Asian puri – is a pleasant change from the usual baked pizza pie.
Those with heftier appetites may also want to try the gut-busting Lamb & Rosemary Lasagna, or slightly daintier Chicken Milanese. The star of the latter dish wasn’t the chicken parma – which came a little dry – but the accompanying apple and fennel coleslaw, .
Save space for dessert. We could only try the Carrot & Walnut Cake, but it’s one of the best renditions we’ve had in town for the longest while (even our friends at City Nomads agree).
Now, Italian themed eateries are a dime a dozen in Singapore. But bar Milano’s more unusual Italian gastronomic slant – like those pizza frittas – may just help it carve a niche for itself in Singapore’s dining scene.
Address 55 Keong Saik Road, 01-02, Singapore 089158 (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 11am to 12 midnight (10.30pm in Phase 2) Mondays to Saturdays; closed on Sundays