Osvaldo Forlino is one of those chefs that seems to have that Midas touch. Every single one of his Italian restaurants have turned out a roaring success. Of course, it may have something to do with the fact that this amazing chef serves up memorably fantastic Italian fare. And while he may have broken things off up with his ex-restauranteur partners, he nonetheless left behind lasting legacies at the eponymous Forlino at One Fullerton and Osvaldo at Maxwell. After his solo venture with the casual trattoria No Menu at Boon Tat Street turned out a critical success, he followed up with the fine-dining ristorante Amarone at Capital Tower.
Amarone has been on my radar ever since it was launched mid last year, but I waited till the crowds dissipated so a recent lunch visit didn't require any reservations. The swanky restaurant is an antithesis to the rustic No Menu. Where No Menu enjoys a cosy, homely ambience, Amarone boasts a sophisticated vibe with its sprawling premises and towering 2-storey high floor-to-ceiling windows. Cafe curtain treatments provide some privacy from the busy foot traffic passing by and grounds the restaurant in a bistro-like look.
Despite the lack of a crowd, service seemed unmotivated, choppy and sluggish. I'd expected more from a fine-dining establishment like this. We had to seat ourselves, the menus weren't provided for until we asked for them, parsley was added to ALL of the dishes despite my strict instructions to the contrary, and repeated requests had to be made for butter and olive oil. This is not to say that service was bad. It just that it wasn't impeccable enough.
That said, the food was, as expected, fantastic. Flawlessly executed with a strong focus on freshness based on the magic of classic homespun recipes. I don't think there was a single dish we didn't like. Immensely.
We kicked things off with an Amuse Bouche, a Bruschetta with Pate. The intense flavour of the pate was set off very well against the plain crusty toast.
The Bread Basket, with aromatic foccacia and plain crusty ciabatta, fresh out of the oven, just the way I like it.
The Insalata Mista ($15), a mixed salad with arugula, heirloom tomatoes slivers of carrots, radishes and pickled onions, was clean, fresh and very refreshing. Every component was so incredibly fresh and sweet. Especially the tomatoes. These were unbelievably good, bursting with summery sweetness and juicy.
The Raviolini di Carne in Brodo di Gallina ($15), is an Italian take on the classic comfort food of chicken soup, with a meat-stuffed ravioli in a delicate chicken consomme. I LOVED this. It was light but with depth of flavour, making for a soulful tummy-and-heart warming bowl of soup. It was really excellent. I would go back just for this.
The Tagliatelle di Casa alla Bolognese ($27), was a homemade flat pasta, soft and chewy, heaped liberally with beef ragu. This was hearty, well-rounded and full-bodied. And possibly the most generous meat-to-carb ratio for beef bolognese I'd ever seen.
The Gnocchi di Patate e Pesto ($25), soft chewy potato dumplings in a basil pesto sauce. I've to confess, this was my virgin taste of gnocchi, and I'm glad it was at Amarone. This was delightfully light and danced on the palate with its peppery basil overtones, not heavy one bit as I would have expected of potato dumplings.
It's been a while since I had risotto, and what a homecoming! Amarone's seafood Risotto del Pescatore ($30), aka fisherman's risotto, was well-balanced, perfectly al dente, and thoroughly delicious. The seafood was impossibly fresh and sweet, with a melange of prawns, clams, fish lending texture and flavour, while freshly shredded crabmeat was laced into the grains for extra body and sweetness.
Capital Tower #01-08
168 Robinson Road
Tel: 6423 0464
Open Mondays to Fridays from 8am to 10pm
Saturdays from 6pm to 10pm