Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Italiano Fantastico

Italian food seems to be highly popular with Singaporeans, perhaps only losing out to their Japanese counterpart in terms of popularity. For some strange reason, spaghetti has become a common homecooked food in most homes. In fact, it could be more common for a Malay home to cook spaghetti compared to Chinese dishes and vice versa for all the races here.

Now while that is some food for thought, I should be getting to the real food. One of my favourite Italian places in Singapore is Trattoria Lafiandra. Nestled in Prinsep Place which have seen quite a few businesses come and go, most would have walked by the pavement outside without ever noticing it. Such a pity.

The pastas and pizzas here are really good. Take the Spaghetti con gamberi e zucchini ($21.90) aka spaghetti aglio olio with prawns and zucchini. Perfectly al dente spaghetti was tossed in olive oil which was flavoured by the garlic slices, prawns and chilli bits. Really simple but nonetheless delicious.

Another pasta, the Tagliatelle al Salmone e Gorgonzola ($18.50) aka flat ribbon pasta with fresh salmon, white cream sauce and gorgonzola cheese, was also a winner. Although I normally shy away from cream-based pasta for fear of being 'creamed to death', this one here actually beckoned for another forkful. Surprisingly un-heavy, the cream and gorgonzola sauce clinged onto the flat ribbons of pasta. I only wished for bigger chunks of salmon instead of the bits that were served.

Our choice of pizza for that night was Pizza Carpaccio ($19.90) aka tomato, mozzarella with thin sliced tenderloin and parmesan slivers. The beef was really thin! And it had a slight floral aftertaste. This is my first time experiencing a floral aftertaste when eating beef. Have my tastebuds gone bonkers? The slivers of parmesan added a nice touch to the tomato base, bringing depth to the pizza.

But them Italians do not just eat pizzas and pastas (although I know of quite a few Singaporeans who could swear to live on them).

Life's a wee bit more fun with meat. The Bistecca de Manzo al pepe verde ($26), aka grilled beef ribeye with green pepper sauce and brandy, was another creamy dish that surprised me.

I normally like my steaks with minimal seasoning but here, the beefy flavour melded with the richness of the cream sauce and the slightly sweet, peppery green pepper corns. I could forgive myself for ordering a God forbidden cream-sauce-slathered steak. Now I pray that they use a thicker piece of meat.

Non-beef eaters should ask about the Catch of the Day ($22). On the day that I had dinner there, it was a grilled whole seabass. The fish was fresh and its flesh was only slightly sweet. But it could be a tad boring for those seeking stronger flavours. The cubes of roasted potatoes on the side were scrumptious but were too small a portion!

For dessert, we shared a Tiramisu ($8.90) which had coffee, liquer and marscapone cheese. It was decent but nothing worth shouting about.

Still feeling that I needed a bit more carbo (don't believe the Atkins people), I ordered the Pane con aglio ($4.50) aka garlic bread. Butter was very generously spreaded over the baguette. In fact, a little too generous. The baguette and butter tasted good but a pity the dominant butter downplayed the taste of the garlic. It's not often that I end a meal with garlic bread, but hey, carbos with herbed butter do make a good end to a good meal.

On the wine front, the Veneto Maculan Pino & Toi 2005 IGT ($60) smelt wonderfully of apples and pear. A relatively dry and pleasant white.

Trattoria Lafiandro is a cosy Italian restaurant run by Cataldo Lafiandra, an Italian, who also does the cooking. Indoors or outdoors, wherever you sit, it'll be a great place for some good Italian food. Cataldo, or Aldo as he perfers to be called, is really friendly and when he has a bit of time, will fleet from table to table to have a small chat as well as to ensure that the food is doing fine. And in my opinion, the food that night was indeed very fine.

Trattoria Lafiandra
46 Prinsep Street
#01-01 Prinsep Place
Tel: 6238-8746
Opens: 12-2.30pm, 6pm-12am

Chew On This: For those who are interested in BYO wines, corkage is charged at $18 per bottle.

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