Rubato has been making waves amongst the Northerners since it was established deep in the Jalan Pemimpin residential estate, off Upper Thomson Road sometime around mid-2011. Rubato is one of those small, hole-in-the-wall, cosy, family-run restaurants that's casual but still chic at the same time. Soft candlelight and rustic wooden furniture give this place a down-to-earth, countryside and romantic vibe. I think, this is the north's answer to the west's Valentino's (it's probably not as authentic as Valentino's, which is run by actual Italians, but Rubato's probably the best the north has for Italian food).
If you're dining over the weekends or during the peak meal hours, be sure to make reservations to avoid disappointment, because the restaurant's so small. Also, a word of caution to those driving there, parking is a pain in the a*s, so be sure to go early to avoid the crowd. Or car-pool.
Stepping into the restaurant on a Tuesday evening at about 6pm, the restaurant was devoid of customers, so we had the entire place to ourselves. Nice. The staff was polite and very unintrusive, leaving us alone for most of the meal except to check in on us, and fairly helpful when giving suggestions for our mains. A weird thing we noticed about the menu though, is that the mains cost about the same as the starters, as well as the desserts! So the mains are comparatively cheap but the starters and desserts are seemingly expensive. I suppose, if you order only mains, it'll be considered a cheap meal. But if you order starters and dessert, then it'll be considered an expensive meal.
The Carpaccio di Manzo con Olio Extravergine di Oliva ($20.80) beef carpaccio drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil, rocket salad, parmesan shavings was admittedly generic, but still one of the better ones we've eaten. There was a clarity of flavours that was so refreshing.
We totally loved the Capesante Avvolto in Prosciutto di Parma con Una Salsa Grappa ($22.80) sea scallops wrapped in Parma ham drizzled with Grappa sauce, and interspersed with dollops of salsa.
The salty, indulgent ribbons of Parma ham wrapped the plump succulent scallops that were seared perfectly so they remained unbelievably juicy. A sumptuous creamy grappa gravy draped each scallop with its warm velvety textures while the salsa provided a fruity piquant lift.
The Oven-Baked Chicken ($20.80) with rosemary was possibly the only downer of the meal, especially in light of the outstanding other dishes. The mashed potatoes were tasteless and the chicken thigh was miserably teensy. That said, the chicken was seasoned well and reasonably juicy and moist.
Save for bits of crab shell, the Risotto alla Polpa di Granchio, Paprica dolce e Pomodorini ($22.80), risotto with crabmeat, sweet paprika and cherry tomatoes was commendable. It was a big portion, but it wasn't cloying one bit. The textures of the crabmeat seemed of the frozen variety but the flavours seemed fresh. That said, the crabmeat was plentiful and the prawns were sweet and fresh. Peppery arugula and paprika provided some lift to the dish as well.
Bite-sized cubes of complimentary Foccacia drizzled liberally with olive oil were served as appetizers still warm and soft and incredibly aromatic.
Rubato Modern Italian Trattoria
3 Clover Way
Tel: 6252 3200
Open daily from 11.30am to 2.30pm for lunch and 6pm to 10.30pm for dinner