For this October 2022 edition, Spirited Eats looks at five all-Italian dining concepts that have recently refreshed their menus.
Singaporeans love Italian food.
Over the past decade particularly we’ve seen so many Italian dining concepts sprout all over the Lion City, sparked by the love for the flavours to come out of Europe’s ‘boot’. From ubiquitous pizzas and pastas we’ve even grown to appreciate the nuances and differences between Italy’s regional cuisines, ranging from the rich meat-based dishes from Italy’s north to the more seafood-focused offerings of its coastal regions particularly in the country’s south.
So here we’ve put together an October edition of Spirited Eats that look at five Italian dining concepts with some new updates to their menu, from classy options such as GEMMA to more family-friendly Da Paolo.
Osteria BBR by Alain Ducasse
There’s a new Chef de Cuisine helming the kitchen at Osteria BBR by Alain Ducasse. Chef Natalino Ambra takes over from Francesco Soletti, and reintroduces a renewed look at the flavours of the Italian Riviera for Raffles Hotel’s classy modern Italian bistro.
Chef Ambra draws on his Italian heritage and 15 years of culinary experience in renown restaurants worldwide to curate dishes that fuse contemporary touches to classic Italian cooking. The refreshed menu includes the likes of Crudo di Ricciola Marinato, Melograno, Condimento agli Agrumi, which sees raw marinated amberjack brightened up by pomegranate and citrus, Tartare di Manzo, Parmigiano, Mandorle, Carote, a moreish Italian take on beef tartare, and Polpo, Spuma di Patate, Profumi Mediterranei featuring beautifully charred yet tender octopus atop a bed of airily-light potato puree.
The Tagliolini, Zucchini, Caviale Kristale is a must for pasta lovers, a shockingly simple yet delicious pasta with zucchini done three ways – grilled, fried crisp, and a pesto sauce – and Kristal caviar offering briny pops of flavour in between. For mains the Baccala, Carote, Salsa All’Arancia of perfectly-seared cod will delight, the mild milky fish elevated with its orange-based sauce. But if you can’t do without pizza like us, the Bologna – topped with buffalo mozzarella, Mortadella ham and drizzled with a creamy pistachio dressing – is your thing.
Alternatively, leave your gastronomic fate up to the kitchen with the Menu Tentazioni, which offers up a selection of Osteria BBR signature and newly-launched dishes that you can wash down with optional curated wine pairings.
Osteria BBR by Alain Ducasse | 161 Beach Rd, Raffles Singapore, Singapore 189673 (Google Maps link) | 12pm to 2.30pm and 6pm to 9.45pm Thursdays to Mondays; closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays | osteriabbr.com.sg | 6337 1886 | online reservations
There’s also change over at GEMMA. Chef Ashley So has taken over the reins at the modern Italian steakhouse that specialises in fantastic Tuscan-inspired steaks, and the award-winning chef – she was recently named Female Junior Chef of the Year 2022 at the World Gourmet Summit Awards – has introduced a new lineup of dishes to excite diners.
There’s charcoal-grilled Spanish Octopus that’s been first beautifully marinated and then fired into a delightfully smoky finish, as well as Sweet Latour Leek, which gets the same grill treatment and then served with pickled blue mussels and dressed in delectable oyster cream. For carnivores, the Jack’s Creek Beef Tartare is a lovely melange of hand-chopped beef with flavours accentuated by the use of wagyu butter.
But it’s really the large format dishes at GEMMA that we come for. A new addition here is the A5 Miyazaki Wagyu Sirloin, seared to perfection over the Josper grill and served with a bagna cauda sauce. Seafood lovers aren’t left out. One of the new highlights is the Spanish Farm Turbot, grilled on the bone in the Josper. What completes the fish though, is Chef Ashley’s twist on the classic Beurre Blanc using salted kombu, which adds luscious complexity.
These new dishes are available in GEMMA’s à la carte menu during lunch and dinner. Make sure you pair them with some good wine; their wine programme here is fabulous particularly if you love your Barolos, Brunellos and Super Tuscans.
GEMMA | 1 St Andrews Road 05-03 National Gallery, Singapore 17895761 (Google Maps link) | 12pm to 2.30pm and 6pm to 10.30pm Tuesdays to Sundays; closed on Mondays | gemmarestaurant.sg | 8787 0977 | online reservations
LUCE by Davide Giacomelli
Time flies when you’re having gastronomic fun! It really wasn’t too long ago that LUCE by Davide Giacomelli opened up. But the new InterContinental Singapore flagship modern Italian restaurant has already announced a slight update to its menu that continues to offer its unique fun and fresh take on classic Italian flavours.
Among the new highlights offered here are a couple of additions to its pizza selection. There’s ‘Nduja Pizza for those who love that spicy pork sausage, as well as Burrata D.O.P. Pinsa, which features burrata cheese, plum tomato confit, and basil on a hand-pressed pizza base. Then there’s Stracchino, Mortadella e Pistacchio Focaccina, a classic Italian sandwich featuring perfectly leavened bread made from pizza dough. Another new creation? The Pancia di Maiale ‘Duroc’ e Insalata di Lenticchie, of slow-cooked pork belly served over lentils and fresh salad.
These new additions help round out LUCE’s menu, particularly if you’re dropping in for lunch or solo dining. But if you like living on the edge, LUCE’s new Carte Blanche is an exclusive four-course tasting menu that you leave up to Chef Davide to decide on your behalf. Fun!
LUCE by Davide Giacomelli | 80 Middle Rd, InterContinental Singapore, Singapore 188966 (Google Maps link) | 12pm to 2.30pm and 6pm to 10.30pm Wednesdays to Sundays | singapore.intercontinental.com/dine/luce-davide-giacomelli | 6825 1008 | online reservations
Then there’s Basilico over at Regent Singapore. The hotel’s flagship Italian restaurant is best known for its gorgeously extensive spread of antipasti, fresh seafood, comforting pasta and pizza classics, as well as its legendary ‘Cheese Room’ that’s home to over 40 different artisanal cheeses from all across Italy. It’s certainly one of our favourite buffet restaurants in town!
The good news is that Basilico recently extended its signature buffet from day to include night as well. Previously it was only available during lunch – and particularly during weekends – but now you can drop in any weekday evenings now for its Basilissimo Dinner to partake in this hearty Italian feast.
It’s going to be a galore of cured meats, fresh seafood, salads and decadent desserts, while the live counters dish out an ever-rotating selection of piping hot mains, pastas and pizzas prepared a la minute by Basilico’s culinary team led by Italian Head Chef Valerio Pierantonelli. We’ll be most glad to tell you of our Italian favourites here, but you’re better off getting yourself lost among Basilico’s brimming spreads and laden tables to look for your own. Chances are you’d get lost in the cheese room like we did.
Basilico’s Basilissimo Dinner comes in at S$98 per person.
Basilico | 1 Cuscaden Rd, Level 2 Regent Singapore, Singapore 249715 (Google Maps link) | 12pm to 2.30pm and 6pm to 10.30pm daily | regentsingapore.com.sg/dining/basilico/ | 6725 3232 | online reservations
Da Paolo Dempsey Restaurant & Bar
Da Paolo Dempsey Restaurant & Bar first opened at the F&B enclave of Dempsey Hill back in 2019 as an outpost of everything Italian, where it quickly established itself as a flagship outlet for the homegrown Italian F&B group.
Conceptualised by founders Andrea and Francesca Scarpa, Da Paolo at Dempsey was inspired by their home in south Italy. The all-day dining concept certainly offers a homely and hospitable feel. The food and drink reflects that. The focus here is on familiar and and comforting Italian food classics perfect for a family feast, served with little pomp and pageantry.
Imbibe in family-friendly classics like Linguine alle Vongole or Burrata & Coppa pizza, which will please the kids. For the turophile there’s the 8 Cheese, a pizza laden with mozzarella, ricotta, scarmoza, pecorino, and even blue cheese. We also enjoyed the Carbonara Calabrese, a spicy (and irreverent) take on the classic Roman favourite using fiery ‘nduja sausage.
There are some modern, liberal twists too. Think Spicy Italian Shakshouka, an Italian riff on the Maghrebi dish using Italian meatballs and ‘nduja, as well as Pork Sausage Scotch Egg.
Do drop into Da Paolo Dempsey for aperitivo hour as well. Chill out over early evening drinks, and wash off the afternoon heat with an Aperol Spritz or some wine, otherwise a Classic Negroni if you prefer something stiffer. Make sure you order some antipasta – such as the Burrata & Salumi Platter or Italian Salumi & Cheese Board – to graze over as well as you watch the sun set.
Da Paolo Dempsey Restaurant & Bar | #01-13 Dempsey Rd, Blk 8, Singapore 247696 (Google Maps link) | 8am to 11.30pm Sundays to Thursdays; 8am to 12am on Fridays and Saturdays | www.dapaolo.com.sg/dempsey | 6261 3128 | online reservations
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