Premium ingredients and masterful culinary chops are OTTO Ristorante’s hallmarks of a memorable meal.
To kick off, the bread selection is impressive. The onion and cranberry breads were both interesting and delicious, but the true star of the show was the foccacia bread, of which its chewy crust, soft texture and slight saltiness made it perfect with the golden olive oil dip from Genova.
But it’s not just the olive oil that comes from Italy. Each of the restaurant’s over-300 labels of wine comes from the country. Paulo, OTTO’s restaurant manager, himself Italian, explains, “When you get wines from all around the world, you need maybe three or four labels from each region. When they all come from one country, then you really need many different kinds to appeal to every taste.”
Coming out personally to introduce the appetizer (Burratina Pugliese con Rucola, Pomodorini Pachino e Prosciutto di “Pio Tosini”) is Chef Michele Pavanello himself. The big man speaks with a mix of Singaporean and Italian accents. “This appetizer isn’t on the menu. Normally, we use Burratina cheese, but today, we just had some beautiful mozzarella flown in this morning. Burratina is a light cheese, but mozzarella is a little lighter. Because of that, we serve this warm, while normally it’s served cold. Enjoy.”
The cheese’s milky lightness was the perfect foil to the prosciutto’s salty, rich flavors, and the spicy, slightly bitter rucola brought out the sweetness of the sun-ripened Italian tomatoes.
Hitting the right notes
The Spaghetti ai Ricci di Mare e Bottarga di “Carloforte” (“Spaghetti” with sea urchin and grey mullet bottarga) made an aromatic entrance with whiffs of clean seawater and spices. While a delicious sauce coats each strand of al-dente spaghetti, crunchy cucumbers add textural delight, as the bottarga (grey mullet roe cured with sea salt) explodes with flavor. The slightly-spicy pasta is cleverly executed, being light and refreshing while still packing the sea urchin roe’s signature oomph.
Another star dish, the Tagliatelle con Ragout di Agnello al Sapore di Tartufo (Tagliatelle with truffle scented lamb ragout), arrived in an unmistakable cloud of rich truffle scent. Where the first pasta was light, this one was unabashedly hearty and filling. Rich cream formed the base for a full-bodied sauce, while the lamb chunks were juicy and tender, beautifully complemented by the earthiness of the truffle.
|PHOTO COURTESY OF OTTO RISTORANTE
Most surprising, however, is the Maialino da Latte Croccante Laccato al Miele d’Acacia e Balsamico Stravecchio, or, simply put, suckling pig. Slow-cooked for 12 hours to seal in the savory juices, the finishing touch came in the form of the skin, fried just before serving and lacquered with “black locust” tree honey—the sweetness sends a pleasant jolt to the tastebuds as the skin crackles into a melt-in-the-mouth experience.
Dessert was a medley of Tortino Tiepido al Cioccolato con Gelato alla Vaniglia (a warm chocolate cake with Haitian vanilla ice cream), Zuccotto alla Ricotta e Buccia d’’Aranci Candita con Salsa al Cioccolato tiepido (candied orange peel and ricotta cheese trifle with warm dark chocolate sauce) and Crema alla Catalana con Frutti di Bosco Marinati al Vincotto (Haitian vanilla crème brulee served with Vincotto marinated berries). Pavanello exclaims, “If it says ‘chocolate cake’ on the menu, then that’s what you have to taste! There’s one kilogram of chocolate in 20 of these cakes.”
The ricotta cheese trifle is a citrus-y delight, with the light, low-fat ricotta and the airy sponge making the perfect ending for a heavy meal, while the crème brulee is a sweet marvel of its own—a few dainty knocks on a layer of caramelized sugar gives way to the perfectly done, vanilla-scented custard cream beneath.
28 Maxwell Road, #01-02,
Red Dot Traffic Building,
Tel.: +65 6227 6819