Fratelli’s Colossal To-Die-For Veal Rack

Located in Hotel Michael in Resorts World Sentosa, Fratelli has made it to my personal list of ‘must go’ restaurants in Singapore, and definitely worth the drive to Sentosa.

This celebrity chef restaurant — backed by brothers Roberto and Enrico Cerea of three-Michelin starred Da Vittoria in Lombardy — is a contemporary Italian restaurant that serves up creative, contemporary yet authentic fare with fundaments firmly based on the traditional cuisine. The cooking here is delightfully precise, and the dishes impressively done (and I’m not easily impressed these days). Helming it is Chef de cuisine Davide Bizzari, and together they have just rolled out their new menu, with most items from the ‘mother restaurant’ in Lombardy.

If there is one thing you must order, it is their colossal 1kg bone-in Milanese veal rack. Juicily tender and sweet, the meat is coated in breadcrumbs and crushed breadsticks, then deep fried in clarified butter. You could smell the butter wafting in like a herald as the cutlet was hauled in; then it was assembled at the tableside – with roasted tomatoes, crushed potato wedges and lemons arranged on top. Bite into it, hear the splintering crunch of the breaded coating, inhale the buttery aroma and the experience brings tears to your eyes. It’s true. I thought I heard a choir of angels sing. On the menu, they call it “elephant ear” and it is almost that large. The bone runs on just one side of the cut and the rest is beautiful meat. As the only main course, it could easily feed six conservatively. This is a seasonal item — read ‘short term’ — and the meat is from native Italian Piedmontese breed called Fassone, known for being lean and tender.

Another must-have is the Pizza Oro Nero, a squid ink pasta topped with mussels, salted cod fish, clams, baby squid, plump orbs of trout roe, tomatoes and topped with gold dust. Set against the black ink, it is the most glamorous looking pizza I have ever encountered – and it was good too.

The chittara pasta ($34) is worth having for its uniqueness. It is handmade, and shaped by pressing sheets of fresh pasta through metal strings strung across a wooden frame — quite a tedious process. This results in a spaghetti that has a square rather than round cross section, with a firm, short bite. Served with braised short ribs ragu and shards of truffles, it is a very rich, thick, hearty dish which, while delectable, is best eaten in small doses, in my view. Lovely as it is, it can easily become ‘jelak’ as we say here in Singers.

For appetisers — sorry, we seem to be working backwards here — go for the steamed Boston lobster ($48) with avaocado wasabi cream and red capsicum mousse. Everything on the plate is as it should be in its best rendition — juicy sweet, lightly chewy lobster; and intense, smooth, luxurious mousse and creams which must not be wasted.

A highlight for dessert is Rosella’s Strawberry Planet, a meringue sphere which you break open to get to the strawberry inside. All in all, a fabulous meal, even if the interiors had a somewhat bland 1990s look.

Good to know: If you’re driving, just park like how you would go to Universal Studios, take the escalator up and walk along Festive Walk towards the hotel. Fratelli has an entrance facing Festive Walk, obliquely opposite Osia. That’s probably the most straightforward path to the veal rack.

Tel: (65) 6577 6555 or email Fratelli@RWSentosa.com
Closed Tues

Acqua e Farina – A laid back restaurant that checks every box

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.

img_1373

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.

img_1365

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

Restaurant Review: Sopra Cucina, A Hidden Gem off Orchard Road

Sopra-Interior-1-Copy

More people should know about Sopra Cucina. A beautiful Italian restaurant in a backstreet behind Palais Renaissance, it is easy to miss this hidden gem. No, it doesn’t help that Sopra Cucina is next to seedy Orchard Towers but think about it rather as being on the first floor of the Pan Pacific Orchard — which indeed it is.

Take the effort to go there, and we are sure you would be glad you did. No ordinary Italian restaurant, Sopra Cucina serves up a menu of Sardinian cuisine – perhaps the only restaurant in Singapore to do specialise in this. Prices are very reasonable and the decor really quite beautiful inside: leather blanquettes, dark wood and glass accents, black and white photos evoke the sense of postwar Italian glamour. Think  Sophia Loren and Federico Fellini.

Biscotto-di-Pecorino-2-Copy

Have the unusual Biscotto di Pecorino ($22) to start. Bread-like and stuffed with warm, melted percorino, then drizzled with honey, it is a little sweet and savoury, with a puffy-firm bite. A typical Sardinian dish, this is not often seen on Italian menus elsewhere. We haven’t until now.

At $28++, the nine-inch Pizza Sopra was most enjoyable, with a good dough which strikes the middle ground between thin crust and thick. It was nice, and would make a hit with the kids. But indeed, nothing to get the connoisseurs falling off their chairs.

Malloreddus-alla-Campidanese-Sardinian-gnocchi-in-pork-and-rosemary-sauceresize-Copy

A unique pasta dish to try at Sopra Cucina is the Malloreddus alla Campidanese ($25++), a traditional Sardinian  pasta made of semolina. At first glance, it looked like broad beans. Delectable, al dente and with served with a thick, tomato-based rosemary pork sauce, it is a dish that is pretty unique, and a good comfort food.

Porcheddu-Sardo-Traditional-Sardinian-Roasted-Suckling-Pigresize-Copy

But for the bigger appetites, have the Porcheddu Sardo ($48++), or traditional Sardinian suckling pig. It is a generous 400g worth of juicy, tender meat with a significant layer of fat, and topped with crackling, and served with roasted potatoes. The dessert of tiramisu ($10++) may be predictable, but it was well done — nice and rich and thick.

Sopra-Interior-3-Copy

Come Wednesday nights, Sopra Cucina offers free flow prosecco at S$25++ for the ladies from 7-9pm. Worth noting, the restaurant’s Sunday brunch is great for those who want to imbibe but not go overboard. At $88++ it features a substantial (though not huge) buffet offering some of its signatures, as well as free flow prosecco and wines.

10 Claymore Road, Singapore 229540
Tel: 67373253