EDIT: Pontini has closed down.
Florentine Chef Daniele Sarno, who has honed his skills at Michelin-starred kitchens, presents an Italian buffet lunch, focusing on simple and fresh ingredients. For instance, he insists that the dips, breads, and pastas are made in-house. Many ingredients, such as flour for pastas and pizzas, are imported from Italy, and many animal products come from sustainable sources.
The antipasti, pizzas, pastas, and desserts are free-flow, while each guest can choose a main each. The antipasti didn’t have a wide selection, but they were delicious. The chilled baked butternut squash with crab meat and black truffle tapenade was my favorite, sweet from the earth and the sea. There were also cured salmon, cheeses (pretty decent), cold cuts, dips, artichoke (everyone’s favorite, pictured above), and, of course, bread. When I heard it was baked in-house, I tried a piece and was surprised by how rustic and homely it tasted, and convinced everyone to try it.
Pesto with homemade tagliolini
The pizzas came thin-crusted, and there are 3 flavors (but you can add more toppings): tre porcellini (ham and mushrooms), vegetarian, and margarita. The first was the best, meaty, salty, savory. There are 5 types of pastas to choose, and the pastas, made from scratch in-house, were fantastic. It was slightly harder than al dente, but somehow, the chewiness brought about a rusticity and a great mouthfeel. Go for carbonara (pictured above, with penne), which is lighter (and healthier?) than elsewhere.
The mains have 3 options: braised beef brisket (pictured above), spicy tomato chicken thigh, and baked Norwegian salmon mignon. The chicken worked best for me, bouncy texture, tender, tangy.
There are, however, two areas for improvement: firstly, orders were mixed up, and the pizzas and pastas, made a la minute, came out slowly (understandable since it was their second Saturday of operations, and they didn’t expect a full house); and secondly, the selections, though exquisite, were limited. It would be icing on the cake if there were more antipasti, some gelato, and some pastries from Pastry Chef Nicolas Maugard with Michelin-starred background who is with the hotel group.
In general, the food was bright, honest, clean, and surprisingly healthy for a buffet. The food had a quality that reminded me of home, that is, if I came from an Italian family. It wasn’t the kind of buffet that would leave you bloated and uncomfortable for the rest of the day. It was the kind that you could try every dish once, and you leave contented.
Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel Level 2, 392 Havelock Rd, Singapore 169663
T: +65 6233 1100
Lunch buffet on Saturdays and Public Holidays, 12-3pm ($48+)
Rating: 3.25/5 stars
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.
Thanks, Jennifer and Shawn, for the invited tasting.