Dolce Vita

Mandarin Oriental Hotel is my favourite hotel for its in-house restaurant options. There's the best-in-class Japanese Teppan-Ya, illustrious grand dame of Chinese fine-dining Cherry Garden, renowned steakhouse Morton's, the immensely popular buffets at Melt....and then there's Dolce Vita, the long-timer Italian trattoria.

Perched on the 5th floor overlooking the bay, the glass enclosure of a restaurant flanks the hotel pool, so you get glistening bodies oiled up and soaking up the sun's rays in the foreground, against the azure expanse of the Marina Bay in the background.

I like the ambience Dolce Vita affords, it's breezy, casual, and tranquil. Being on the fringes of the madding CBD and bustling Orchard Road shopping belt is evidently conducive for a relaxed vibe. Which is why a bunch of us from work drove out of the city for a languid Friday lunch. And also, because TGIF!!

Also, the Set Lunch ($36 for 2-courses, $42 for 3-courses, and $52 for 4-courses) was quite the attractive draw. While Dolce Vita isn't my favourite Italian restaurant by any measure, I would admit that the set lunch was one of the most value-for-money around.

The highlight of the appetizer courses, the Vellutata di Funghi, was the house's signature wild mushroom veloute, earthy, thick and creamy with lashings of parmesan crumble. Wonderfully comforting and a must-try.

The Orecchiette alla Norcina was our pick of the pasta courses for its delicate flavours. An Umbria-style pork sausage ragout, this was dotted with summer black truffle and topped with pecorino shavings.

I'm a big big sucker for risotto, but I wasn't a fan of the Pumpkin Risotto, And while I liked the sauteed prawn dice freckled through, I thought the addition of ginger oil a step too far, which heat was a jarringly stark contrast to the subtle sweetness of the pumpkin and shrimp.

We had one of every protein in the meat course; the Filetto di Salmone (supplement $10) was a poached salmon fillet crisped up on the skin for a textural juxtaposition, and sided by broccoli, vanilla parsnip coulis, and a blood orange vinaigrette. A well-balanced dish with delightfully light, fruity notes.

The Pollo, was well-executed. Organic chicken breast was seasoned with mustard seed for a mellow bite, and served alongside juicy mushroomsm, smooth mash and a rich shallot jus

The Controfiletto di Manzo (supplement $10) was a perfectly medium grass-fed sirloin, heady with a smoky char, and topped with capperata, green leaves and rubra sauce.

We also ordered a few items off the ala carte menu, for sharing, and the Prosciutto di Parma ($26) with homemade grissini and piadina emiliana flatbread was a reliable failsafe.

We also shared a cheese plate of creamy Taleggio ($22), which soft pungent notes were picked up by the tart of homemade marmalade and fruit bread.

The Crema di Cavolfiore ($20) of cauliflower soup, creamy and smooth, was speckled with cauliflower florets and a seared Hokkaido scallop dusted with black truffle powder.

The Roasted Barramundi Fillet ($46) with scapece zucchini, homemade ricotta, and mussels sounded much better on paper than it actually turned out. It was a middling, forgettable dish. The salmon on the set lunch menu would have been a far more worthwhile option.

Freshly baked bread, crusty and toasty, paired with softened butter. EVOO and balsamic are available too, feel free to ask for that.

Dolce Vita
5 Raffles Ave
Mandarin Oriental Hotel
Tel: 6885 3500
Open daily from 12noon to 3pm for lunch; 6.30pm to 10.30pm for dinner

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