Modern Italian restaurant Altro Zafferano reinvents itself from its old Zafferano days and presents a fresh and inventive take on contemporary South Italian cuisine.
What used to be Zafferano is now Altro Zafferano.
First opened in 2012, Zafferano – Italian for saffron – set itself as a rooftop destination in Singapore’s prime Central Business District offering a fine dining take on regional Italian cuisine. I’d daresay over the years most of us would probably have attended many a corporate lunch, champagne brunch, a romantic tête-à-tête dinner, or even a fancy wedding there.
But ten years is a long time. Its modern Italian dining concept, once cutting-edge, became tired despite numerous menu updates as it saw increasing competition from newer restaurants offering a similar dining experience. Its once elegant decor too, over time, got dated.
A change was needed. And that change is Altro Zafferano.
The ‘other’ Zafferano.
It’s a total revamp, but one that’s still rooted in its decade-old Italian heritage. Here are spanking new interiors that’s at once understated and sophisticated, yet modern and comfortable. It is bright and cheery in the day, and, when evening comes, becomes cloaked in a more cosy and romantic ambience.
More importantly the menu has seen a drastic overhaul. Gone are the laundry lists of familiar yet boring dishes specifically catered for the CBD working lunch crowd. In its place, a plethora of plates of South Italian inspiration as seen through the lens of Executive Chef Andrea Paola. Chef Andrea, who spent almost ten years with the il Lido group here in Singapore before joining Zafferano in 2019, combines contemporary gastronomic art, and Italian provenance and personal touch with almost obscene ease at the new Altro Zafferano.
The Oscietra Caviar, Sea Urchin Ice Cream, and Red Prawn Waffle, for example. This is a literal taste of the sea, with the slender crisp sandwiching Mazara prawn tartare eliciting delight for its contrasting textures as much as the sweet yet briny flavours. Or the Hokkaido Scallop with Smoked Pear, Potato Mousse, and Guanciale, a bizarre combination of ingredients that somehow work together in a mouthful.
The Robbins Island Beef Tartare with Oyster Leaf, Orange and Seawater was a standout, recommended particularly for those who enjoy their beef raw. The oyster leaf, with its saline meaty flavour, and the bright citrus notes beautifully balanced the richness of the hand-chopped beef.
But Chef Andrea is as technique-driven as he is enamoured by balancing flavours and textures. That red prawn waffle? The batter itself incorporates minced red prawn, shell and all, for maximum flavour. Or how about the Housemade Tagliolini with Langoustine Carpaccio? It comes with a garum fermented from Amalfi lemons, providing a lovely salty-acidic contrast to the sweetness of the Mozambique langoustine and its delicate bisque-like sauce.
Those who love their filled pasta will enjoy the House-made Ravioli with Wagyu Beef Genovese and Anchovy Colatura. These ravioli come as extruded cylinders – pinched at its ends – instead of the usual square or circular ones we’re used to, filled within with finely minced wagyu beef. The beef and onion consomme they come swimming in is absolutely divine too.
Our mains came expertly executed, if not nearly as exciting or innovative as the earlier courses. The MBS 8-9 Yugo Wagyu Beef was seared to perfection, shyly pink in the middle wrapped in a bark that can only come from being charcoal grilled. The Roaring Forties Lamb is worth the order. Done two ways – a grilled rack cutlet and braised lamb neck – it’s a great way to experience lamb anew, without the usual gamey notes one would normally associate with this protein.
Both dishes are somewhat pedestrian, but I guess one does need to continue catering to the unadventurous business professionals who flock here for lunch after all.
The new Altro Zafferano represents a much-needed breakaway from Zafferano of old. And in my opinion, in some rather fresh and exciting ways as well. If you’ve tired of its previous fare, come with new expectation. Chef Andrea will bring back that excitement we had of Zafferano when it first opened in 2012.
And if you held your wedding lunch reception at Zafferano those years ago? Maybe its time you renewed your vows at Altro Zafferano and rekindle your passion anew.
Altro Zafferano offers an ala carte menu and an ‘Experience’ tasting menu – the latter comprising choices of a starter, pasta, main course and dessert – available during dinner on weekdays, and lunch and dinner on weekends. A 3-course set lunch menu is available during lunch on weekends.