Bolognese native Luca Bottura worked in a bank in Singapore for two years and was increasingly discontented with Italian cuisine here because many good Italian restaurants’ food cost an arm and a leg; he wanted to create a space where people could have high quality, authentic, traditional Italian food everyday. So he built a restaurant and now he can eat freeflow pastas and gelato daily. (Well, his family has been in the culinary business for 5 generations, and he has a diploma in pizza making, so it’s not anyhow hantam, ok.)
Piadina (flat bread) with stracchino, parma ham ($12)
All ingredients, except perishables, are imported from the Bottura family’s suppliers in Italy. The pastas are made fresh every day using the kitchen equipment imported from Italy. Gelato is also churned in-house. They even make stracchino, a cheese in a cup (see photo below), themselves.
Cold cuts & cheese platter ($22)
At this price point, and at this quality, Bottura has to be one of my favorite restaurants this year. The set lunch (M-F 11am-3pm), which includes pasta or pizza, a dessert, and a soft drink, costs only $14.50+. A six-plate degustation pasta ($18, weekdays after 5pm, and whole day on weekends) comes with a glass of house wine. The house wines (red or white) only cost $8.50 a glass.
Tagliatelle con ragù tradizionale ($15, or what we commonly call Bolognese sauce)
The housemade pastas are stars, each better than the next. Singaporeans are used to pastas slathered roughly with globs of sauces, but in Italy, sauces are meant to coat pastas gently, not drown them. I like it that Bottura follows the Italian method although I wish the pastas were done al dente. (Luca explained that Singaporean customers complained that they were not used to al dente and wanted their pastas as soft as bak chor mee.)
I don’t know which pasta to recommend because on that day, they were all marvelous. The egg and squid ink tagliolini with shrimp and zucchini ($16, above) is a yin-and-yang mix of egg pasta and squid ink pasta, lightly tossed in light cream sauce. Its sweetness and softness contrasted with the crunchy and slightly bitter zucchini, although the prawns were lackluster.
Huccalyly’s favorite, and my second favorite, Bolognese tagliatelle ($15) was simple, light and refreshing, excellent on a hot day (or any day, really), and the pasta was slightly crunchier than the tagliolini, giving a wonderful bite.
My favorite, which I couldn’t stop snatching off the plate like at a rice shop in wartime, ravioli ($14), was square pockets of joy filled with slightly bitter spinach that burst and mixed with the rich cream sauce, umami mushrooms, and salty parma, giving rise to all kinds of complex, not complicated, permutations.
Although I still prefer Alt Pizza in the same building, the pizza here was pretty good. The dough is proofed for 24 hours, and on that day, the base was thin, crispy. Both the parma-rockmelon (sweet, $24) and Arrabbiata (spicy, $18, chilli and mozzarella on tomato base) were equally good, and it solely depends on personal preference for sweet or spicy.
The pistachio gelato ($5) gave an enjoyable nutty fragrance: addictive .
Although Huccalyly could only describe food using two adjectives–“awesome” and “terrible”–she has discerning taste and knows what she likes and dislikes. And she really loves the food at Bottura, claiming it is one of her favorite restaurants this year. Well, since my friendship with her is predicated on fear, I’d better not disagree with her.
Service: NA (tasting)
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.
This is an invited tasting.