La Strada underwent a mini-revamp late last year. The restaurant's smaller, which explains why we felt a little cramped immediately when we walked in. While there seems to be more of a crowd now than it did before the revamp, it could really just be that the restaurant's significantly smaller so the usual crowd just seems larger in comparison.
The classic Italian menu has been overhauled, but the food's no less delicious, we practically wiped our plates clean off as we did last year when we had dinner then.
We've always felt that La Strada is one of those inexplicably underrated restaurants where we're always guaranteed refined and polished Italian cuisine in intimately cosy surroundings. For a restaurant that's under the ultra posh and ultra luxe Les Amis umbrella, the low-light illuminated restaurant manages an unpretentious air that's very appealing. The staff are attentive but unintrusive, and pleasantly non-stuffy.
La Strada's 4-course Set Dinner ($65) is an absolute must-try. It's just so value-for-money. The Hubs had that while I ordered from the decidedly limited ala carte menu. The La Strada Egg Florentine ($24) starter caught my eye and didn't disappoint. In fact, it was just awesome. A juicy deep fried portobello mushroom sat on a bed of lightly sauteed spinach and a pool of veal jus, with a perfectly poached egg delicately perched atop the mushroom while a couple of laces of Parma ham completed the masterful creation. We totally lapped this up.
The Hubs' antipasti first course was the Minestra Maritata, a variant of what we commonly know as minestrone soup. A very well-balanced soup that utilized a meat stock base and sweetened simply with the use of cabbage, cauliflower, tomatoes, carrots and celery, then chunked up with diced prawns.
His primi second pasta course was the Spaghettini Aglio Olio e Gamberi, which showcased their finesse in making the most out of the very best in quality of ingredients. The best olive oil, garlic and bird's eye chili was all it took to flavour this incredibly simple dish. Toss in al dente pasta, a few fresh prawns and voila, you get an uncomplicated, clean yet dazzling dish.
The secondi meat third course was the Arrosto di Miale, a grilled pork rack that was so tender and juicy and moist, with a lightly charred edges for oomph, and a spiced tomatoey Amatrichana sauce to the side of a broccoli sprout and freshly mashed potatoes.
I loved how nuanced my Risotto con Aragosta ($36) with a lobster stock base was. It somehow managed a lightness of being that was so delectable. I usually find lobster stocks to be quite cloying, but this was different. It walked a fine line between the bland and saccharine. It was rich enough but still very balanced. A finely executed dish, with al dente risotto and a generous helping of bouncy lobster chunks.
The Hubs' dolci dessert fourth course, Tiramisu, was humongous. This was headily delicious. Very very moist and a controlled creaminess, with just the right dash of the sweet and the bitter.
We also loved the complimentary foccacia bread, very flavoursome and aromatic, and totally soft and fluffy.
Update 18 July 2012: La Strada has closed its shutters.
1 Scotts Road
#02-11 Shaw Centre
Tel: 6737 2555
Open daily from 12noon to 2.30pm for lunch and 6.30pm to 9.30pm for dinner