The four year-old Italian restaurant, Pepenero, is bought over by chef-owner Gabriele Piegaia of Burlamacco Ristorante, and is given a new lease of life. The menu is refreshed, and the service whipped into shape. New air-con sets will be installed; the spotlights will be replaced by hanging lamps; and the impressionist paintings swapped for chic, modern ones. Piegala is a man on a mission with a vision.
Burlamacco serves fine-dining, modern Tuscany food whereas Pepenero is more casual, focusing on South Italian traditional cuisine. There will also be a bar at the front of the restaurant.
Most of the food we had are well-conceptualized and delicious. The starter, octopus on potato, is topped with taggiasca olives, that grow on a seaside slope, where the sea breeze sweeps up the hill and whistles through the olive trees. The olive has the taste of the sea, with a tinge of bitterness, building up the complexity of tastes.
The chef-d’oeuvre, pork meat ball ($24), is spicy with chilli padi, robust and exciting. This gets a must-order.
Homemade black squid ink spaghetti with spicy crab meat sauce ($28)
But the mains need some tweaking. The homemade squid ink spaghetti can be less salty although it has a wonderful bite. And the crispy prawn, and calamari, and vegetables ($40) are greasy and are more bar grub than main. Each ingredient is more suitable to be marketed on its own as finger food.
The meal ended beautifully with a semifreddo ($14), so rich and buttery, and homemade limoncello. On the whole, the new Pepenero is tasteful.
14 Stanley St. Singapore 068733
T: +65 6222 5808
12pm-2.30pm, 6.30pm-11pm, closed Sun
Service: NA (tasting)
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.
This is an invited tasting.