When I entered the empty restaurant during Restaurant Week Mar 2012, I thought, “RUN. Get away. NOW. While there is still time to save some money.” But I stayed and after a full and delightful meal, I thought, “How come such a perfect little restaurant can be this empty?”
The boss, Alex, left Gattopardo as he wanted to set up a restaurant of his vision. “Casa” means “home” and “Tartufo” means “truffles.” So this is the Home of Truffles and the comfort of a home is reflected in the easy, classy decor. The restaurant serves truffles, the key ingredient in many of the dishes, throughout the year: Winter Black Truffle from Jan to Mar; Summer Black Truffle from Apr to Aug and White Truffle from Sept to Dec. The menu changes three times a year to follow the seasons.
One of the general complaints of Restaurant Week is that the set lunches cost the same or similar on normal days; there isn’t much of a discount for Restaurant Week. But this complaint certainly cannot be applied to the generous Casa Tartufo. A quick calculation shows that if we were to order a la carte, we would have to pay $168, but since this was Restaurant Week, each set meal cost $55++ or $130 for two. That’s a discount of $40.
For the Restaurant Week menu, we couldn’t choose the starter or the dessert but we could choose the mains. Being a Singaporean who likes discounts, I of course opted for a meat dish, since meat is more expensive than flour (pasta). Ms Atas had the pasta. While the Ossobuco was decent, it was truly the tajarin, truffle pasta, their speciality, that was spectacular. The moment it reached our table, the scent of truffle assailed the senses. I salivated and controlled myself not to attack the food as I took the photo; it made me experience what a deprived addict would feel like. When we finally ate it, the taste matched the aroma: subtle and very ethereal.
At this moment, Tammy, Alex’s Singaporean wife–Alex is Italian–carried their cute little baby around the restaurant, introducing the beautiful boy to the diners. Now, although I do want children of my own eventually, I think babies are a completely different species, and I won’t go gaga over babies. But this brown-eyed boy was not only a conversation starter, he also demonstrates the philosophy of the restaurant: “casa.” Home. Everyone is family in the restaurant. Everyone was so friendly. And Tammy said, “Have you tried our panna cotta ($14)? It’s not on the Restaurant Week menu but it’s our specialty.” So we ordered. That’s what family is for, right? Oblige obligations?
The panna cotta was indeed very smooth with a right balance of sweetness but we wondered if it was worth the $14 price tag. At the end of the meal, Alex was so kind to give us complimentary dessert liquor, potent and sweet.
Not only was the service homely, with free booze and introduction to family members, when we were leaving the restaurant, the Filipino waiter RAN into the kitchen to look for Alex so that Alex could walk us out of the restaurant. (Alex walks everyone out of the restaurant, from our observation.) This is the first time I’ve seen a waiter run. That is how amazing the service was!
On the whole, the food wasn’t mindblowing but it was definitely up to par. The service was perfect and put us at ease; the decor was classy. Everything was done right in this restaurant. Including the panna cotta ($14), and two glasses of prosecco (champagne, $15), we spent about $90 per person.
583 Orchard Road
Forum Shopping Mall #01-17
Rating: 3.819/5 stars