Friday, March 27, 2009

Revisiting some Italians

Over the past months and few weeks, I’ve been doing ‘comfort’ eating. I’ve been eating at familiar places and in particular I’ve been eating at the same Italian places. Whilst I love trying somewhere new, sometimes nothing beats knowing exactly what you are going to get even before you open the front door of the restaurant. Here’s the rundown.


I’ve been back for three different types of sittings in the past few months. Once for a no-holds-carbs-evening-out with the girl friends, second for a private party for a friend who turned the big three-O and lastly for a lazy Saturday lunch. And on all three occasions and after all these years, I still think the food and the ambience is amazing. Have a bowl of pasta, split a pizza, nibble on the menu seasonal anchovies or settle down with the grilled to perfection steak Florentine (this is really awesome!), you can’t go very wrong.

Buko Nero

I have been a bit of a manic with this hole in the wall. After my first meal there, I made sure I had a table for every month of the year. I’ve dined there with all sorts of permutations. A table for two, three, four, five and six persons but I’ve never eaten there by myself. I’ve had their set lunches, the set dinners, the daily special pastas, the regular menu, ordered my own and nibbled at other people’s courses, ordered almost half the menu and sharing it and after all that experimenting, I’ve settled for my own ‘menu’ – a soup (either the soup that is on the board or the default porcini mushroom soup laced with truffle oil), a pasta (a toss up between the specials, default choice of spicy prawn spaghetti and the other rival pasta on the printed menu) and a serving of ham and cheese crostinis to share. Dessert is optional. The rational behind my mania: I like what they do and I like what it stands for: small, intimate and food made with love. There are some things that sometimes irritate me, in particular the long almost irrational waiting time between courses, but I overcome that with good company and some patience.

Da Mario's

Since it’s re-opening on the opposite side of its original location, I’ve been there three times on three consecutive weeks and I’m very sad to report that Da Marios has lost its ‘al dente’ touch. Visit after visit was a downhill tumble, and so I don’t think I’m going back for a long long while. On my first visit, we were served tepid appetizers and limp pastas and the waiter almost looked shocked at my replied, “to be honest, the soup was under seasoned and tasteless and the courses were tepid” to his question on how our appetizers were. After our pastas, I decided that my dessert allowance was better spent elsewhere (even though I remember that they have a gorgeous tiramisu). On my second visit, my pasta was still too soft but the bruchetta gave me a slight glimmer of hope. On my third and final visit for this year, our pastas were still limp but I had the wisdom to stay away from the capellini that was close to gloppy on my first visit and to stick with its fatter and flatter cousins – spaghetti and linguini – but they were still cooked beyond the point of al dente. I can’t figure it out. Are they cooking these to ‘Asian noodle’ standards? Why can’t I get some al dente pasta here? But maybe there is a way around it, I can tell them to undercook my pasta and it might turn out ok but seriously, I trust not the service here - on my third and possibly my last visit, a seemingly innocent request to get our bread warmed, where I was left irritated with the stupid answer they gave me and cold bread and was the final straw. This was third time, not so lucky and I’ve had it here.

11 Jalan Bingka
Tel: 6462-0555

Buko Nero
126 Tanjong Pagar Road
Tel: 6324-6225

Da Mario’s
60 Robertson Quay
The Quayside #01-05/06
Tel: 6235-7623



Anonymous ladyironchef said...

i been saying i want to Valentino for the longest time, but haven been there yet. i think its more likely i go to perla's beside for some cakes. hahah!

Buko Nero don't allow photography right? you took a secret snap? heh

8:17 PM  
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