Ever since the closure of La Strada, I’ve not been having italian food (pasta to be precise) because Italian food is not something that is easily good in Singapore. Most places whip up pastas but it isn’t anything satisfactory. I had serious Italian food cravings one day and went to search for a good restaurant. I decided to look for relatively new restaurants hoping they can serve the standard that was non existent among the old restaurants. I decided at Otto Locanda, a sister restaurant to fine dining Italian restaurant Otto. This restaurant started mid last year but if I am not wrong, it was not that well received. However, I think they chef and menu has changed since, and it seemed very promising now.
It is conveniently located at Maxwell Chambers, which is where the now defunct L’Anglo used to be (a pity they had to close). It is right at the exist of Tanjong Pagar MRT so it is definitely not inaccessible. We were to first customers to arrive at 5:55pm, and the manager Kylee kindly opened the doors for us even though the dinner service officially starts at 6pm.
Comparing to Otto, Otto Locanda is more trattoria style and homely with a touch of classiness. It’ll be good for nice dinners out without being too formal. Other than the ala carte and set menu, they had daily specials too. The menu is not extensive, with the selection about as wide as what La Strada and L’Anglo used to have. No complaints though, since everything seems appealing. After looking through the options, we went for ala carte options and settled for a bottle of Italian red.
Planeta La Segreta Rosso 2011 – $85.00++
As my dining partner and I usually have French or Australian wines, we weren’t so familiar with the Italian counterparts. Kylee recommended this to us and it was pretty good. For something so young, it was surprisingly quite bursting with flavours from the initial sip.
These were complimentary from the chef.
Burrata Cheese with Marinated Cherry Tomato and Rocket Salad – $16.00++
This was one of the daily specials. From the moment I spotted the word ‘burrata’, I knew that we had to get this. My dining partner and I are both fans of burrata cheese. As expected, the cheese was really soft and creamy. The cherry tomatoes were so sweet and juicy like strawberries. I love rocket salad so it sums up this perfect cold appetizer.
Italian roasted Ham and smoked Scamorza cheese fritters with spicy tomato sauce – $16.00++
I also like scamorza cheese so I had to try this too. This was a warm appetizer. The cheese seems to be fried, but there were no signs of any stale oil. This was within expectations as we were the first customers anyway. The texture was kind of like hash brown, but better. The thin outer layer was slightly crispy while inside it was soft and mushy. The spicy tomato sauce was of the perfect balance as well. It makes me feel like trying their tomato sauce based pasta in future.
Cauliflower Soup – $14.00++
This was another daily special. They kindly separated the portion into 2 for us so it is only half the portion in the picture. I like how this soup is actually full of vegetables and it gives a healthy twist to a creamy soup. At this point, Chef Marco came out to greet us and explained how he loves vegetables and always tries to incorporate vegetables into his food. This is interesting as I myself love vegetables too.
Spaghetti with Vongole in white wine sauce and parsley – $26.00++
Good vongole is pretty elusive in Singapore and my dining partner and I had high hopes for this. I am glad to say that this didn’t disappoint. This is definitely one of the best vongoles I’ve tried in Singapore. The interesting twist here is that this pasta contains a good amount of vegetables. Upon scrutiny, carrots, onions and cherry tomatoes were all over. The special thing is that even though these unconventional ingredients were present in the vongole, the addition was not at all offensive and it blended perfectly with the vongole pasta.
Homemade beef Tortelli with dry porcini mushrooms and cream sauce – $24.00++
This was actually a mix up order. I had told Kylee that I was deciding between the Tortelli and the Gnocchi, but eventually decided on the Gnocchi. However, they served this instead. After clarification, the waiter told us that we could have this and the Chef would whip up a portion of Gnocchi for us too. Honestly I wouldn’t mind ordering them both, but he insisted that the Gnocchi will be complimentary. Anyway, this Tortelli was one of the best stuffed pastas I’ve had in a long while! The skin was thin enough and wasn’t too soggy. The mushrooms where very aromatic. The cream sauce was on the rich side, but still manageable.
Potato Gnocchi with crab meat, vodka and pink sauce – $24.00++
I absolutely loved the sauce here. This was a perfect pink sauce to me. it wasn’t too creamy so it wasn’t that sick to taste. The crab meat was firm and fresh and there were plenty of it. The only gripe was the gnocchi being on the soggy side. Other gnocchis I’ve had were slightly more firm. However, this wasn’t that big an issue because it was still good. The gnocchi soaked up the pink sauce was the outcome was tasty.
Meringue cake Meringata with chocolate sauce – $14.00++
For desserts, by dining partner and I initially only wanted to share one. We were torn between this one (recommended) and tiramisu (because I love tiramisu and how could I have Italian food without it?). Before we knew it, Kylee offered to give this to us complimentary so we could have both the tiramisu and this. Anyway, this dessert was kind of legendary and I would definitely come back for more.
Tiramisu’ Otto Locanda Style – $12.00++
On the other hand, the tiramisu was more lack lustre in comparison. The flavours of rum/ marsala wine was not strong enough and generally it was quite bland. However, it still satisfied my tiramisu craving. For now, Da Paolo still has the best tiramisu!
Overall, the service, ambiance and mostly importantly, food was excellent at Otto Locanda. With it’s accesible location, I think they deserve more business. On a Saturday night they were probably only 1/3 filled as observed during our 3 hours of wine and dine there. I also noticed that most of the patrons were foreigners and they tend to stream in later in the night. Perhaps they’ll be busier on weekdays since this is in the heart of the Central Business District, which becomes deserted during the weekends. I sincerely hope that this restaurant and chef will be here to stay because this is my new favourite place for Italian food!
Just a little trivia – before deciding to dine here I was looking through the options of Italian restaurants. I actually decided to go to PepeNero because the reviews were good and the Chef seems established. However, just an hour before dinner I somehow felt like trying this place instead, despite the less stellar reviews. As fate has it, the Chef Marco was actually from PepeNero but has left to work at Otto Locanda instead! The information I read about PepeNero must have been outdated and I guess the change is rather recent. This is quite amusing to me because it all seems fated for me to find the Italian food I really like. Since the change in chef was rather recent, I guess you can disregard all older negative reviews out this place since its different now.
Overall: a pretty good trattoria style Italian restaurant to try. Highly recommended by Hungry Bird.
32 Maxwell Rd
Tel: 6224 0978
Monday to Friday: 11.30am to 2.00pm
Monday to Saturday: 6.00pm to 10.00pm