Formerly Fynn’s, the Cicheti Group opens its third establishment, Caffe Cicheti at South Beach Tower. The new restaurant’s concept is Italian coastal cuisine that focuses on seafood but more importantly, it means that fresh ingredients are prepared and cooked in simplicity in order to retain their natural flavours and goodness.
One of the antipasti, Panzanella ($15) is a refreshing salad with crunchy cucumbers, Spanish onion, juicy heirloom and datterino tomatoes. Dollops of stracciatella, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinaigrette and lemon vinaigrette bind the ingredients together perfectly.
Coated with polenta and semolina flour, Sardine Fritte ($18) is deep-fried into a slightly crispy texture, lightly seasoned with salt and served with house-made garlic aioli. Feels like a snack.
Polpo is one of the daily specials that is not found in the regular menu and I do hope that it is available on the day you visit Caffe Cicheti. Smoky pan-seared octopus is accompanied by cubes of roasted Idaho potatoes, sautéed Spanish onions, olives, and the entire dish is generously drizzled with salsa verde. I like the tanginess from the dressing.
Moving on to primo (first main), the restaurant stays true to their straightforward concept for their pastas. Pesto ($22) is spaghetti tossed in extra virgin olive oil, house-made pesto, almond, pine nuts and parmigiano shavings. It is fragrant, light and delectable.
As for the Gnocchi ($23), the dumplings have a slightly charred texture while the filling remains soft and fluffy inside. Made from scratch, the mushroom sauce is very rich and delicious. All of us licked our plates clean.
The Iberico Pork ($29.50) has a good ratio of melt-in-your-mouth fat versus tender pink meat. Marinated with five-spice mix and fermented garlic, the pork rack is extremely umami and not the least gamey. To balance out the savoury, the dish is served with kale salad and thinly sliced Granny Smith apples tossed in lemon juice.
Cioppino ($26) is plain addictive. Using tomato sauce and cream as a base, the stew is boiled for half an hour with fish and prawn stock. It is a seafood bounty of succulent grey prawns, squid, flower clams and scallops in the bowl.
What really keeps me going for more are petite slices of house-made focaccia toasted in copious amounts of garlic and butter. The crusty porous bread sops up the essence of the fish stew very well. The combination of seafood sweetness and savoury butter garlic is a match made in heaven. I want to eat Cioppino for the rest of my life.
For a well-balanced diet, the Brussels Sprout ($10) and Asparago ($13.50) are great accompaniments to any of the secondi dishes. Both vegetables are lightly charred without being overcooked.
For the sprout, the sweetness from the pomegranate molasses and candied pecan nuts juxtaposes with the slight bitterness of the brussels sprouts perfectly.
The asparagus is paired with bagna càuda aioli, a somewhat acquired taste as it is made from garlic and anchovies.
Gianduja Semifreddo ($12.50) is partially frozen cream and cake, made from dark chocolate and hazelnut. Crushed Amaretti biscuits form the base and add texture to every bite. It is a slice of Ferrero Rocher but cold.
If you prefer a warm dessert, Olive Oil Cake ($11) is an interesting cake that is mostly savoury rather sweet. Other than strong hints of extra virgin olive oil, the cake has a tinge of lemon zest, sour cream and thyme. Paired with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, it is a perfect ending to the meal.
The food is excellent and you can count on the sommelier to suggest a good wine to pair with any of the dishes. There is beauty in simplicity.
South Beach Tower #B1-21,26 Beach Road, Singapore 189768
M- F 11.30am – 2.30pm; 5.30pm – 10pm
Sat 11.30am – 3pm; 5.30pm – 10pm
Sun 10.30am – 4.30pm
T: +65 6384 1878
You may be interested in…
–Cicheti, Kampong Glam: Can a Singaporean Chinese Cook Italian Food?
–Caffe B, Club Street: New Location, New Chef, Itameshi Better Than Before
–Publico Ristorante, Robertson Quay: Italian Food and Great Vibes
–Atmastel, South Beach: A Casual Italian Restaurant. Misled by Rave Reviews.
Written by Cheang Shwu Peng.