Pastaria Abate, the sister restaurant of The Reading Room, started business at Craig Road last September. It may seem like a bold move when Pasta Brava, an established and popular Italian restaurant, is just several doors down the road. However, we do not have to worry too much on their account because this Italian restaurant is offering us what we love – good and affordable Italian food.
Part of Pastaria Abate’s slogan, ‘Handmade Daily’ indicates their commitment to freshness and authenticity. Indeed, the words ‘handmade’ and ‘handformed’ appear frequently on their menu and also on the small wooden cutting boards that line up against the walls. These wooden boards are useful, suggesting dishes in pictorial form to those who may need visual clarity.
They also entice customers to upsize their pasta for an additional $2 or grab their ‘homemade tiramisu’ while it lasts as there are limited portions a day. You can customise your pasta dish by choosing a type of pasta – egg pasta, pasta or specialty pasta, and a type of sauce – ranging from red, cream or white. That allows a few hundred possible combinations, a staggering sum for the indecisive lot. The three of us spent a while studying the menu, wondering what to order to maximise the handmade goodness experience.
To keep overheads low, it is mostly self-service when it comes to ordering and collecting food. The service staff on duty that evening was helpful nonetheless. She gave some good recommendations and whatever we initially wanted to order flew out of the window.
Half a board of antipasto is $12.80 and a full board costs $20. If you want to go overboard, the rest of the appetisers cost less than $10 each. We opted for their popular Portobello fries ($8.80), which is a steal because the price tag is about the same as the packet of uncooked Portobello mushrooms I can find in a supermarket. The ‘secret batter’ gives a good crunch to the otherwise juicy and meaty funghi. They are tasty and it is impossible to stop at one.
After we took the first bite of the Italian grilled pork belly ($7.90), there was a unanimous ‘ooh-ahh’. It is nicely charred without being overburnt. The layer of fat keeps the slab succulent and retains the flavour of the meat. The pork belly is not on the regular menu but it is one of the seasonal specialties that we hope to be recurrent.
The other seasonal item is tagliatelle with mixed mushrooms and fresh summer truffles ($19.80). Summer truffle can be harvested from May to November and is known for being subtler in its flavour and aroma as a comparison to other truffle counterparts, making it a very good source of garnish for a wide variety of dishes without overriding other flavours. In this case, the summer truffles and mixed mushrooms get on famously in the union. It is delicious and a ‘must-order’ for anyone who likes the earthy taste found in mushrooms and truffles.
The spinach tagliatelle with calamari frito ($16.80) has a tantalising lemon butter sauce which complements the spinach flavour of the tagliatelle perfectly. Unfortunately for both pasta dishes, the tagliatelle ribbons tend to stick together. I’m not sure if it is because the pasta is not well-tossed with the sauce before serving or if the noodles are not stirred continuously during the boiling process.
The desserts, unfortunately, are not as good as the pastas. The tiramisu ($6.80) could be richer. I could taste a slight hint of rum and espresso but the primary taste comes from the cocoa powder on the top layer. The panna cotta ($6.80) appears to be firm and dense but it melts in the mouth easily enough. However, it is much too sweet, and the small dollop of berry compote does not enhance the panna cotta much and instead adds to the sweetness. The compote can be tarter.
We were already talking about what we want to order in the next visit before we were done with our meal. We are keen to try steak Florentine ($15.80) and needless to say more pastas, in the red sauce category like the Italian meatballs ($12.80). The food takes a while to be prepared so it is best not to go there ravenous. On the whole, it is a comfortable and pleasant dining experience, nothing short of what an authentic Italian family restaurant is all about. We paid $74 for three persons, including sparking water (water is not complimentary here). No GST, no service charge.
43 Craig Road, Singapore 089681
10am – 10pm daily
tel: +65 6909 0672
Service: NA (self-service)
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Written by Cheang Shwu Peng. She used to be able to eat for three but we know that age catches up on everyone, she is now only able to eat for two. She also does not have the habit of sharing food unless it is necessary.