4 authentic Italian restaurants in Singapore

4 authentic Italian restaurants in Singapore

The best Italian food in Singapore takes some trouble to find, but even your non-existent Tuscan mama would approve of these choices

Singaporeans love Italian food.

According to an AC Nielsen research paper published in 2009, 17 percent of Singaporeans picked Italian as their first or second choice when asked about favorite cuisines.

Where do Singaporeans go for their Italian fix? For many, popular and centrally located Italian hotspots such as Osvaldo, Oso and Otto come to mind.

But more enriching experiences await if you take the trouble to track down the handful of rustic Italian eateries located in offbeat venues.

Here are Singapore’s coziest and most sumptuous off-the-beaten-track Italian restaurants.

La Braceria

La Braceria La Braceria's market fresh Italian cuisine -- worth schlepping for.

The setting: Behind the row of shop house restaurants at Greenwood Avenue, La Braceria is located along adjoining Greendale Avenue.

It's so well hidden that you might just walk or drive past it without noticing -- keep your eyes peeled for the veterinary clinic next door.

The proprietor: Chef/owner Fabio Iannone was one of the first Italian chefs to land on Singapore shores in 1995 when he was posted to Singapore as head chef at Al Forno.

The food: Despite its contemporary interior, the cuisine at La Braceria is the most rustic and sumptuous we’ve had in recent memory.

La Braceria is also the only local Italian eatery we know that serves off-menu porchetta, an Italian-style roast pork. Advance order is required.

The restaurant flies in fresh vegetables from Italy -- artichoke, red chicory, tomatoes, more. These can be gratinated, steamed or grilled to your specification.

The perfect meal: Menu standouts include a sublime carpaccio of cod fish crowned with capers in lemon-jus-laced olive oil; savory homemade ravioli stuffed with ricotta, mascarpone cheese and porcini mushrooms; and mascarpone cheesecake.

Off-menu items include spectacular porchetta and burrata.

A word of caution: once you’ve tasted the Puglia-imported parcels of creamy burrata served with savory slivers of Parma ham, you’ll be begging for your next reservation.

Rating: 4.5/5

5 Greendale Avenue, tel +65 6465 5918

Valentino

ValentinoWelcome to Valentino's ... where mama, papa and Valentino himself strive to make you feel welcome.

The setting: With windows framed by half laced-curtains and potted plants alongside crimson walls adorned with family photos, the 45-seat Valentino at Riffle Range residential area is probably the most authentic trattoria that you can find in Singapore.

The proprietor: Valtulina Valentino is the chef proprietor, but his immediate family all have a stake in running the operation.

Papa Gianpiero, Valentino’s father, ushers in guests; mama Alma jointly helms the kitchen with Valentino; and Perla, his sister, gets the chocolate and pastries ready for desserts.

The food: Rich, northern Italian classics -- like dining in an Italian friend’s home.

The perfect meal: A carpaccio-style air-dried beef crowned with sheets of Parmesan cheese and rocket leaves; squid ink fettucine with generous hunks of crab meat in a hearty bisque-like sauce; and, best of all, mama Alma’s pancetta-wrapped roast chicken in an herbed-up chicken consomme with rosemary and olives.

Rating: 5/5

11 Jalan Bingka, tel +65 6462 0555

Sole Pomodoro

Sole PomodoroSssh! If they tell you the secret of Sole Pomodoro's crust, they'll have to kill you.

The setting: This airy and laid-back pizzeria is located where you'd least expect it, opposite Rex movie theatre and just a stone’s throw from Little India MRT station.

The red, blue and bright orange interior has textured brick walls and a tiled bar. There's also a roaring wood-fire pizza oven.

The proprietors: Sole Pomodoro is co-owned by Italian cousins Gerri Sottile from Sicilly and Mauro Muroni from Sardinia. They also jointly own Cugini Trattoria Pizzeria at Club Street.

The flamboyant Sottile looks after the front of the house while the talented Muroni helms the kitchen.

The food: Sole Pomodoro has nailed the formula for perfect pizza crust.

Tweaked from a recipe that originated in one of the oldest pizza parlors in Naples, where Sottile and Muroni previously worked, the Neapolitan-style pizza crust is thin without being anemic, crisp on the outside. It provides a clean, firm bite.

Sole Pomodoro is not a one trick pony -- the menu also features a selection of home-style pastas, salads and sandwiches.

The perfect meal: Start with a Sfiziosa salad of walnuts, pear, cherry tomatoes, olives, corn kernels and shaved Parmesan.

Follow with a light and refreshing bufala pizza, which comes dressed in nothing more than tomato sauce, fresh basil leaves and luscious buffalo mozzarella. For a richer alternative, there’s the Sole Pomodoro pizza topped with sun-dried tomatoes, potato chunks, sliced onions and a drizzle of fresh cream.

Rating: 4/5

19/21 Mackenzie Rd. #01-01; tel +65 6884 3671

Pietrasanta

Pietrasanta Pietrasanta: Rustic Tuscan flavors in a rustic setting.

The setting: Housed in an atmospheric tin-roofed building in the lush precinct of Portsdown Road, the 90-seat Pietrasanta uses wooden wine crates as wall panels.

Its towering ceiling is supported by wooden beams. There's an outdoor verandah for alfresco dining.

The proprietors: The operation is run by the Massimi brothers from Pietrasanta, Italy.

Elder brother Giuseppe runs the floor -- and the pick-it-yourself wine cellar showcasing 190 Italian wines. Younger brother, Loris, heads the kitchen.

The food: Pietrasanta’s menu is an emblem of Tuscan flavors. This is one of few places in Singapore where you can get dishes like fresh anchovy fillets marinated in vinegar, white wine and pepper, or homemade sausage-topped Tuscan polenta.

The perfect meal: Vinegar and white wine-cured fresh anchovies; udon-like pici pasta tossed with shreds of wild boar and sausages in tomato sauce; fork-tender braised beef cheeks topped with deep-fried rosemary in a red wine sauce; and an artful flourless cake with almond and chocolate.

Rating: 4.5/5

5B Portsdown Rd.; tel +65 6479 9521

Evelyn Chen traded her frequent flyer miles from her jet-setting corporate days for a critic's pen, and has been eating and drinking on the job ever since. She is a former Time Out food critic and current editor of Zagat Guide; her food and travel features have published in Destin Asian, Travel + Leisure SEA and Conde Nast Traveller. For a collection of her gourmet jaunts, visit www.bibikgourmand.com.

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