The decor of Trattoria Nonna Lina, or Grandma Lina Restaurant in English, named after the owner-chef Simone’s grandmother, is quaint and rustic. The restaurant is run entirely by the family: Simone and his mother helm the kitchen while his brother and father manage the restaurant. They are so new to Singapore that they speak few words of English. Very cute and authentic, as attested by the Italians dining at the place when we were there.
Like the restaurant, the food is homely and rustic and we felt like we were eating at an Italian home. The 4-course San Valentino’s Menu ($90++/pax), available only on 14th Feb, features aphrodisiacs found in Italian cuisine as Chef Simone said, “Italians are famous for being great lovers and I set out to create a menu that captures the intense passion of my heritage.”
Chalice of Lovers consists two king prawns in the shape of a heart, paired with aphrodisiac avocado, which can act as a dip or eaten on its own. Among the four courses, this was least impressionable. The avocado, with texture of a good mashed potato, neither enhanced nor subtracted the prawns that could be fresher. It was average, not exceptionally good or bad.
Legend has it that Aphrodite, Goddess of Love, whose name is also Venus and whose name we get the word “aphrodisiac”, was carried to earth on a scallop shell. (Who doesn’t know the famed painting, Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus?) And since then, scallop is known as a food that titilates desire. The pasta, Butterflies of Venus, was as beautiful as it was delicious. The al-dente farfelle (meaning “butterfly”) was cooked perfectly, firm, and tossed with olive oil, diced asparagus (aphrodisiac), lemon zest and truffle oil, topped with two scallops which, again, could be fresher. Put together, the pasta was zingy and addictive. Under the scallop shell hid a shy but fragrant mashed potato infused with truffle oil. The presentation of the dish, with a scallop shell, really highlighted the name of the dish and fit the theme of the dinner perfectly.
Needless to announce the aphrodisiac in this dish of Oysters of Passion, a trio of oven-baked Mediterranean oysters doused in melted parmesan cheese that is crusted at the surface, and sprinkled with bacon bits. At first, I thought, what a waste of good oysters. Shouldn’t oysters be eaten raw? But at my first bite, my worries were assuaged. It was delightful: the oysters were still moist and raw. The bacon-and-cheese mitigated the brininess and retained the characteristic mineral pleasantness of the oysters. We found ourselves slurping the cheese off the oyster shells.
The Cupid’s Mousse, a chocolate-and-chilli mousse (both aphrodisiac), was exciting. The texture could be smoother, but when the first taste of chocolate, which wasn’t cloying, gave way to a mild pleasant spicy aftertaste, you’d reach for a second bite and a third. Resistance is futile. Huccalily said, “I could finish two by myself.” I think she meant three.
Eating this meal is akin to going to a friend’s place for a fantastic dinner. The food was homely and rustic but costly and the restaurant, cozy and unpretentious. Whether it is Valentine’s Day or not, Trattoria Nonna Lina is still worth a visit.
Trattoria Nonna Lina
4 Craig Road Singapore 089664
T: 6222 0930
Rating: 3.375/5 stars
PS: Thanks Valerie for the invite.