There are those days when you just want a night out with the family, with good food, decent prices and where you don’t have to dress up. Plus a little something extra to perk up the experience, rather than the usual ‘same-old, same-old’. For me, the latest restaurant that checks all these boxes is Acqua e Farina (meaning ‘water and flour’), a cosy restaurant in Rail Mall, Upper Bukit Timah. For a meal there, I am happy to drive all the way from home in Siglap in the East.
When I first heard that this new Italian restaurant specialised in pizza and pasta, I was struck bored as nails. But since my first visit there, I have been back with family in tow. First, the food there is really good. The pizzas in particular are worth the drive. In the rain. With a sore throat.
Chef Antonio Manetto, one of the owners, does the pizzas. Hailing from Naples where the best pizzas in Italy are from, he holds up the reputation well. (The other owner is chef Roberto Galbiati who comes from Milan, and specialises in desserts and the heartier cuisines of northern Italy. Which means you get the best of both ‘ends’ of Italian food here.) Apart from using a particular kind of flour flown in from Italy, he lets the dough rest for an extended period of time, which results in a wonderfully light yet robust pizza base, chewy without being heavy. From this, he serves up a good range of red and white pizzas including signatures such as pizza Acqua E Farina ($25) topped with spicy salami, tomatoes, mozzarella, ricotta and sautéed spinach, and Pizza Bufala ($25) featuring two kinds of mozzarella.
What I liked particularly was the restaurant’s unique boat pizzas which seem like a cross between a calzone and a Turkish pide. The Barca Bufala ($26), or Sicilian boat, was great, bursting with juicy tomatoes, melted buffalo mozzarella and draped with generous servings of Parma ham. The prawn spaghetti with garlic, olive oil and chilli was enjoyable too, rich and aromatic, with pasta made from scratch, and cooked till nicely al dente, with a bouncy, lively consistency.
Two other dishes really impressed: a starter of buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes and basil wrapped in Parma ham ($23), served with mixed greens and flat bread and the other, sautéed octopus with potatoes, olives and capers ($28). These are must-have’s and all you need for a light indulgent lunch, washed down with a glass of white wine.
To end, the dessert platter ($14) offers tasting portions of creme brulee, molten chocolate cake, panna cotta and tiramisu (non-alcoholic).
There are a few more things worth mentioning about Acqua e Farina. Its very wallet-friendly wine list, for one. Bottles are generally priced at the sweet spot: the house red, Montepuciano d’Abruzzo, Farina, for instance, is only $50 per bottle — an easy-drinking red that’s delectably rounded, smooth and low on tannins.
There’s free parking at Rail Mall, and if you’re lucky, you can even park by the lane in front of the restaurant entrance. With hardly any stairs to take, it’s relatively easy to bring wheelchair-bound guests or elderly family members who may have mobility issues.
Finally if you are planning a party but don’t want to cook, Acqua e Farina offers a ‘Party Helper’ service where you can order dishes in party portions and have them delivered to your home. Choose from a full menu featuring dishes like Salmon Fillet baked with Butter and Dill ($92, for 8 people), Roast Beef Rib Eye served with Vegetables and Rosemary Sauce ($160, 2kg) and Spaghetti tossed with Prawns, Garlic, Herbs, Fresh Tomatoes and Olive Oil ($48, serves 4 people). We notice the prices are very decent too.
The Rail Mall – 400 Upper Bukit Timah Road
Tel: +65 6462 0926