I don't know why I took this long to hit up inITALY, but I figure, better late than never, eh? A friend had been bugging me to try the Italian ristorante, and, oh boy, did it live up to the hype. Here at this cosy eatery, honest-to-goodness fare is executed with aplomb, highlighting the impossibly fresh produce. I particularly liked how the rustic and hearty is effortlessly balanced with refinement.
Service could do with a jolt of energy, but it hit all the right buttons on professionalism, attentiveness and friendliness. Our water glasses were rarely left parched for long, my request to hold off any parsley was attended to, and the wait staff periodically checked in.
Reservations are a must, especially if you want to sit in the constrained indoors. Even though it'd rained earlier in the day, we were still perspiring through dinner.
A must-try if you're a fan of this cheese, the Burrata ($28) was set against silky ribbons of salty parma ham, peppery rucola, juicy heirloom tomatoes, and a capsicum chutney. This was a dish that was more than the sum of its parts. While I still don't care for the creamy buffalo cheese, I'd happily admit that the flavours were married most beautifully.
My favourite appetizer, the carb-centric Crostino ($28) was a crispy, chewy oven-baked dough bed, layered with melted taleggio, black olive tapenade, radicchio, and strips of gorgeously pink parma ham. Fantastic stuff.
A classic starter, the Carpaccio ($24) contrasted paper-thin slices of succulent Angus beef tenderloin, spicy mustard and aromatic truffled goat cheese with the subtle kick of arugula leaves.
I've always been partial to arugula, and the Rucola ($19) was an excellent salad, simplicity at its finest. Just rocket leaves, raspadura cheese shavings, heirloom tomatoes, pinenuts, and garlic croutons. I asked to hold off the mustard dressing, and dressed this in EVOO instead.
InItaly offers one of the best Parma Ham ($24), silky glorious pink ribbons of cured saltiness.
One of the best complimentary Bread Baskets I've ever had, these were chewy, crunchy, doughy packets of delight paired with a smooth nutty pesto.
Highly recommended, the Chitarra ($38) didn't disappoint. Al dente home-made spaghetti laced with sparkling fresh lobster chunks cooked to a springy softness were tossed in a pomodoro sauce spiked with chilli.
A must-try, the Orecchiette ($28), cloaked in a velvety porcini mushroom sauce and dotted with crispy parma ham crumbs, was glorious. I loved how the earthy mushrooms were in perfect symmetry with the salty ham.
The Ravioli di Ossobucco ($28) were just about the most exquisite dumplings ever, fat and bursting with scrumptious veal stuffing, and pooled in a garlicky saffron gravy brightened by lemon rind.
Not just for meat-lovers trying to stay away from carbs, the Pollo alla Diavola ($28) was undoubtedly the best roasted spring chicken I've ever had in an Italian restaurant. Rubbed with rosemary and chilli, this was flavoursome to the bone, and finger-licking good. Absolutely glorious. Fire-grilled blistered vine tomatoes and roasted ratte potatoes rode alongside.
For those watching their diet, a lighter option would be the Acqua Pazza ($36), a duo of red garoupa fillets simmered in a delicate broth flavoured by mussels, clams, Taggiasche olives, and Pantellaria capers.
Like an old-comfortable pair of well-worn shoes, the Classic Tiramisu ($14) was a reliable, safe option for dessert. This was commendable: moist and heady and nuanced.
For a more unique sweet, try the Zabaglione ($16), a juxtaposition of the warm moscato-tempered sabayon against the chill of the peach sorbet.
in ITALY Ristorante
38 Craig Road
Tel: 6423 0918
Open Sundays to Thursdays from 12noon to 2.30pm for lunch; 6pm to 10.30pm for dinner;
Fridays from 12noon to 2.30pm for lunch; 6pm to 12midnight for dinner;
Saturdays from 6pm to 12midnight for dinner