Recently opened in mid-February, Casa Manini at Serangoon Gardens is within a stone’s throw of the famous Chomp Chomp Food Centre, and it serves home-styled Italian cuisine in a garden setting. Trinkets around the shop are taken from the chef-owner’s home, giving the space a homey feel. The establishment is run by Fulvio Manini, a self-taught chef who worked for Bulgari before he interned with Brotzeit and La Nonna prior to the opening of his own restaurant. Equipped with his family recipes from northern Italy, the chef executes a wide range of flavours in his dishes.
The menu is simple with classic Italian dishes: appetisers, pastas, pizzas, and meats. For starters, the most expensive dish, Burrata on san Daniele ($25), consists of a pillowy creamy buffalo milk mozzarella cheese filled with creamy stracciatella, which is mild and delectable. However, the prosciutto San Daniele (cured ham) is a tad too salty. Nonetheless, both pair well together with the milkiness of the cheese balancing the saltiness of the ham.
The Pollo alla Milanese ($20) could have been our favourite of the night but for one reason, it wasn’t. Brined for four hours before frying, the boneless chicken thigh is succulent within and crispy on the surface, so tasty! Sadly, the baked potato that comes as side isn’t thoroughly baked and the cheese remains unmelted inside. Although the restaurant manager (I assume) responded quickly to our doubt, the re-baked potato was still just moderately warm inside.
Living up to its name, Carnivore pizza ($19) is the perfect pizza for meat lovers. Fully covered with a layer of prosciutto on top of the melted mozzarella, it is finished with mortadella and Italian sausage, without any greens (no carnivore eats greens right?). “It is a meat-overdose,” said no one ever, and the taste is balanced. The crust takes a moderate stance, not too thin and not too bready. The crust is crispy, fluffy inside, and slightly chewy, but they do not make the crust themselves; it’s from a supplier.
We didn’t find the Lasagna Classica ($19) amazing despite being named the best-seller of Casa Manini. While the Bolognese sauce is savoury and rich with the sweetness of tomatoes (not too tart), the minced pork and beef is dry.
For dessert, the cream in the tiramisu ($10) is a little too dense and is there any liqueur in it? However, the sorbetto al limone ($11) is a mouth-watering lemon ice cream sorbet that comes in a whole frozen lemon shell. The texture is between an ice cream and a sorbet. It is remarkably refreshing yet tantalising. For a person with a low tolerance for sour food, I could not resist finishing it. However, it is imported from Italy, and not made in-house.
Overall, the food is enjoyable with some outstanding dishes. The ambience is homely and relaxing with lovely decoration and plants, like a European backyard. We paid $122 for three persons. As the mains and pizzas are reasonably priced at around $20 in good serving portions, I would not mind coming back here.
Serangoon Gardens, 14B Kensington Park Road, Singapore 557265
T: +65 6281 1286
T-F 12pm-2.30pm, 6pm-9.30pm, Weekends 12pm-3pm, 6pm-9.30pm, closed Mon
You may be interested in…
–Pizza Express, Scotts Square: Fantastic Feasts and Where to Find Them
–Ristorante Luka, Tanjong Pagar: Excellent Italian Food by Japanese Chef Takashi Okuno
–Bruno’s Pizzeria and Grill, Katong: Great Homely Italian Food
–La Pizzaiola, Jalan Riang: Slumming to Investigate How Rich People Eat Good Pizzas (Yes, They Eat With Their Mouths Too! Shocking!)
Written by William Leong. He was raised with the notion that food wastage is abominable. Please don’t be alarmed if you see him gorging until plates are sparkling clean; it is just his reflex action.