Pizzeria Giardino is the casual Italian outlet of the Mediterranean-centric Esmirada group of restaurants. Its open-air location at the green lawn of the historic Chijmes, while picturesque, makes this quite the attraction to flies, we were swatting flies away throughout our dinner. If you're one of those people that require the comfort of air-conditioned surroundings, this is definitely not the place for you. Despite the prevalence of fans and a slight breeze, we found ourselves rushing through our food so we could escape from the heat and humidity. But, if you're a smoker, this is quite a dining paradise. Many of the tables were set aside for smokers.
We got a couple of starters, the Prosciutto e Melone ($17) was first up, the juxtaposition of the super sweet melons with the pungent saltiness of the Parma ham was terrific. I don't usually eat melons, but this were brilliantly sweet and juicy, a perfect complement to the ham.
Our obligatory greens were in the form of the Insalata di Rucola ($13), rucola leaves interspersed with shaved parmesan and cherry tomatoes, and dressed lightly with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. I was quite surprised that the portion was so huge, we had to take this away.
This place specialises in wood-fired pizzas, and we sampled the popular Gamberi e Finghi ($23) with crunchy, marinated prawns and shitake mushrooms. This was well done and perfectly portioned for one person, enough to satisfy a hungry big eater but not enough to burst your pants seams.
We also had the special-of-the-day, the Mushroom Ravioli ($21) with a creamy mushroom sauce, which was seriously cloying. While I always lament how small in portion most ravioli dishes are, I actually found myself unable to eat more than 5 raviolis in this dish. Strictly for cream lovers, this one.
They brought the bread out the same time as the starters so we didn't have much time to eat this. Despite the lateness, the bread was served warm and soft.
Please note that there is apparently no such thing as iced tap water here, you either order still or sparkling water. So, we got the Iced Peach Tea ($6) and Blackcurrant Soda ($6), delicious, not too sweet and refreshing.
30 Victoria Street
Tel: 6338 8711
Open Sundays to Thursdays from 4pm to 11pm; Fridays and Saturdays from 4pm to 12midnight