Operated by Chef Yew Aun Lim, formerly from L’Operetta, the cozy space exudes a welcoming warmth; by “warmth” I mean it metaphorically, and not physically from the Naples-imported wood-fired oven. The menu isn’t innovative but it is well-crafted with ample choices that warrant several visits.
Although we could tell the calamari ($11) was from fresh, not frozen, squid, it was just a tad chewy. But the breading with hints of spices tasting like Malay food made up for the texture.
You could almost taste the meatballs’ ($15) sweet tomato sauce being kissed by a gentle sun. I took a small bite into the meatball and it magically washed my mouth and brain with bliss. MUST ORDER.
The 10-inch pizzas are the specialty, and there were “leopard spots,” indicative of authentic Neapolitan pizzas, on our Bismark ($23, tomato sauce, fior de latte, parmesan, ham, mushroom, and runny egg). The crust, made from Italy-imported flour, had a piquant aftertaste that made us lust for more. But as a whole, the savory pizza lacked an intensity found in the meatballs; we wished the tomato sauce was more robust. Perhaps a less complicated margherita ($17) would give more satisfaction.
The whole seabass ($38), baked in salt, was worth the buck. At a Chinese restaurant, it would have easily cost $50. The flesh was moist and tender and fresh—it took all three of our breath away. Unfortunately, they didn’t scrap the salt off the bottom of the fish properly, so the underside turned out too salty to eat. Still, I list it as a MUST ORDER.
Even the dessert didn’t come as an afterthought. Chocolate lava cakes are passé but this salted chocolate ($12.50) possessed the balance of richness and potency without being overwhelming or jerlat after a heavy meal. A third MUST ORDER.
The food was so fantastic, sincere, and honest that I wanted very desperately to try other items on the menu. But one of us is getting married, one on a diet, and one has a small appetite—so no more food. :( But on my next visit, I will order the burratina ($29) and the handmade pastas, probably the pappardelle ragu ($25).
To answer the question posed in the title, the restaurant was packed with angmohs, mostly Europeans, and it had to turn away people on a weekday night. Cicheti enters the nominee list for Best Restaurant in 2015. We spent $123 for 3 persons.
52 Kandahar St, Singapore 198901
T: +65 6292 5012
Rating: 3.85/5 stars
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.