In a bid to promote democracy, my colleagues got to choose between Otto and Osvaldo for July's L.A. Lunch. Unexpectedly, it turned out to be a tie, but the restaurants unwittingly made the choice for us. By the time I made reservations for a Friday lunch on a Wednesday afternoon, BOTH restaurants were completely booked up. So it was really fortunate that a large reservation at Otto Ristorante was cancelled, and we got their booking instead. Phew! For a moment there, I thought I'd have to scramble to get reservations at an alternative place instead.
Otto Ristorante is one of those fashionable, upscale, fine-dining places frequented by businessmen, socialites and expats (i.e. people with fat expense accounts, trust funds or boyfriends/husbands with trust funds).
But come lunchtime, there's a very attractive $35 Set Lunch Menu that changes weekly to reflect the week's freshest produce. There's a downside to having lunch at Otto though, the service is just too slow for people like us (i.e. lowly associates and not big bosses) to fit into our 1 hour lunch break (1 and a half if our bosses are okay with it). Otto is meant for people who have the time to enjoy a leisure 2-3 hours lunch.
The Burratina Pugliese con Rucola Pomodorini Pachino e Prosciutto di "Pio Tosini" ($26) Parma Ham with Burata Cheese and Rucola, was a heavenly concoction of gorgeous pink ribbons of salty parma, bitter rucola and milky burata, with a dash of balsamic vinegrette for some tang.My favourite starter of the meal.
The Calamari alla Griglia con Condimento al Prezzemolo e Aglio was 1 of the 3 starter choices from the set menu. Bouncy tender squid set against the grassy textures of the salad greens, this was warm and yet refreshing at the same time.
We also ordered the Carpaccio di Capesante con Condimento allo Zafferano e Polvere di Olive Taggiasche ($28) Hokkaido Scallop Carpaccio with Saffron Vinaigrette & Black Taggia Olives Powder. This was sweet, clean and clear. I thought the flower petals were such a pretty and sweet touch to the dish.
The Cannoli di Melanzane e Caprino alle Erbe con Misticanze ($22) Eggplant and Herbed Goat Cheese Cannoli was not for everyone, the goat's cheese was a little too strong and bold for my liking.
The Carpaccio di Manzo Giapponese con Rucoletta e Condimento al Tartufo di Norcia ($26) Wagyu Beef Carpaccio with Argula and Black Norcia Truffle was one of my other favourite starters. The robust full-bodied beef balanced out the bitter arugula leaves. Generous cheese shavings and truffle drizzles added an exquisite dimension to the dish.
The Zuppa del Giorno ($14) Soup of the Day was a Chick Pea Tomato-Based Consomme. Warm, delicate and light, this was a good start to the meal.
Onto the mains, the Linguine all'Astice dette In Busera ($38) Boston Lobster Linguine in a Spicy Tomato Sauce, was portioned a little small. Otherwise, the lobster was sweet and bouncy, and the pasta was perfectly al dente.
The Tagliatelle con Ragout di Agnello al Sapore di Tartufo ($28) Tagliatelle with Truffle Scented Lamb Ragout was fragrant, rich and hearty.
The Filetto doi Occhiaia con Vellutata di Broccoli, Baby Snapper Loin with Broccoli Veloute, 1 of 3 main choices from the set menu was also portioned very small. That said, the snapper fillet was moist, fresh and clear.
The Brasato di Agnello al Barolo con Vegetali e Polentina Soffice, Braised Lamb with Polenta was another main choice from the set menu. This was robust hearty and meaty.
The Gnocchetti di Patate al eGranchio Vodka, Potato Gnocchi with Crabmeat and Vodka, also from the set menu, was delicately creamy, light and sweet.
The Filetto di Merluzzo Leggermente Affumicato con Salsa all'Aglio Dolce ($40), Lightly Smoked Atlantic Cod Fillet Served with Sweet Garlic Sauce, was similarly portioned too small. This was finished in a couple of bites.
The Tagliatelle al Nero con Il con Baccala alla Vicentina ($28) Squid Ink Tagliatelle Baked Cod Vicenza Style was also very good. The oily cod was mild and creamy, balancing the strong flavours of the squid-ink-blackened pasta.
The Ossobuco di Vitello con Gremolata al Limone e Risotto alla Milanese ($42), Veal Shank Osso Bucco with Saffron Risotto Milan-Style, was robust, hearty and classic comfort food.
The Spaghetti al Ricci di Mare e Bottarga di Carloforte ($30) Spaghetti with Sea Urchin and Grey Mullet Bottarga was definitely an acquired taste, with its briny and salty umami flavours. The sea urchin was very creamy and smooth though.
The Mousse Agli Amaretti con Salsa ai Lamponi, Amaretto Mousse Cake with Raspberry Coulis, 1 of 2 of the set menu dessert choices, looked like a wafer but was light as air. This was exquisite.
The Gelati e Sobetti di Otto, Otto's Ice-Cream and Sorbet, also part of set menu dessert choices, was icy, creamy and refreshing with the addition of diced watermelon.
The Tiramisu alla Maniera di Otto ($14), Giamaica Coffee Tiramisu was light, creamy and heady, really yummy.
The Tortino Tiepido al Cioccolato con Gelato alla Vaniglia ($16) Warm Chocolate Cake with Haitian Vanilla Ice-Cream was a beautiful dark chocolate molten lava cake with premium vanilla ice-cream. This was lovely and decadent.
Complimentary Amuse Bouche, Tomato Puree layered upon Mozzarella Cheese. This was not my kind of thing, a little bit too piquant and tangy.
A waiter came around serving us bread from this huge tray precariously perched on his very strong biceps. The serving method was a little novel but not practical. The bread was cold and limp by the time it came around to us.They should have just served us the bread in baskets like most other restaurants.
Red Dot Traffic Building
28 Maxwell Road
Tel: 6227 6819
Mondays to Fridays from 12noon to 2.30pm for lunch and 6.30pm to 10.30pm for dinner
Saturdays from 6.30pm to 10.30pm for dinner
Closed on Sundays