Jamie’s Italian (Singapore) by Jamie Oliver

Setting

 

Interior shot of Jamie’s Italian


TV chef, Jamie Oliver, needs no introduction.

Neither does Jamie’s Italian (“Jamie’s), the 38-year-old celebrity chef’s casual Italian restaurant concept with long-time mentor, Gennaro Contaldo, that has spawned a successful chain of 30 outlets in UK plus a growing international market in Dubai, Dublin, Perth, Sydney and – most recently – Singapore.

Sited on the ground level of Vivo City, Oliver’s Singapore restaurant collaboration with Ong Beng Seng’s Hotel Properties Limited takes up prime harbour fronting space that seats a staggering 250 pax (including 40 seats at the al fresco area).

Interior of Jamie’s Italian @ Vivo City
Communal tables-with-a-view at Jamie’s Italian

Like Jamie’s in the United Kingdom, Jamie’s Singapore plays up the warm and rustic vibes with lavish use of timber wood in a cosy space overhung with copper pendant lamps and walls lined with cushy leather banquettes. These are juxtaposed with exposed ceiling beams and galvanized Tolix chairs for a touch of industrial pizzazz. Only about 10 seats are assigned for reservations daily and if you’re one of those lucky few, book a communal table at the classy chandeliers-lit dining room that offers promising harbour views through floor-to-ceiling glass windows.

What to expect

Oliver is not called “The Naked Chef” for nothing. His approach to Jamie’s is predictably unfussy, preferring to let the fresh produce speak for itself. And on that note, majority of produce at Jamie’s – with the exception of core supplies like the flour used to craft the house made pastas – are sourced from neighbouring countries (e.g. beef is from Australia while fish is sourced from Malaysia). While this works to minimize carbon footprint, it’s also incredibly helpful at keeping food costs – and therefore menu prices – affordable.

Prawn linguini (left) and turbo penne arrabbiata (right) – both are small portions

One of the highlights at Jamie’s is the array of pastas made on site every morning. No, these pastas (available in two portion sizes of small and large) do not raise any eyebrows in the creativity department, but we can’t fault the perfectly al dente texture that yields a firm bite. Try the turbo penne arrabbiata (S$12.50/S$19) for a decidedly simple plate of penne tossed with a spoonful of breadcrumbs, tomato, garlic, basil and  tongue-searing chillies. If that doesn’t excite you, the prawn linguine (S$17/S$25) sautéed in garlic, tomatoes and shaved fennel is a fail-safe option.

Wild truffle risotto

For those who don’t mind the porridge-like consistency of risotto, the wild truffle risotto (S$16/S$24.50) comes highly recommended. Don’t jump to conclusion that dish’s allure is in the black truffle shavings. Truth be told that we are besotted with the Acquerello rice slow-cooked in salt water (not stock nor cream) and finished with a hint of butter and barely-there Parmesan shavings.

 

Pink snapper acqua pazza

For mains, pink snapper acqua pazza (S$32) has all the trappings of Italy – olives, capers, cherry tomatoes, Italian parsley – served with a whole pink snapper that’s first pan-fried, then cooked in acqua. While it’s undeniably wholesome, the dish smacks of Teochew steamed fish.

Jamie’s Italian burger strikes a chord

Jamie’s Italian burger (S$27.50), on the other hand, strikes a positive chord with a transcendental assemble of smoky mozzarella, salty pancetta, sweet and sticky balsamic onions stacked on a thick slab of juicy Australian wagyu patty.

Fish plank: style over substance

No doubt you’ll want to graze on some antipasti while awaiting the arrival of the mains. The planks – choose from meats (S$15.50 per person), fish (S$17pp) or vegetables (S$13.50pp) – sound alluring on paper. The fish plank, for instance, features an assortment of fritto misto di mare (seafood), beetroot cured salmon on ice, garlic roasted shellfish, smoked mackerel pate on toast plus a clutch of small bites artfully arranged on a platter that, in all honesty, is more style over substance. 
Baked Swiss brown mushrooms with smoked buffalo mozzarella

Diners are better off picking starters from the plates menu: smoked buffalo mozzarella baked with Swiss brown mushrooms (S$12.50) served with paper-thin sheets of yeast-free ‘music bread’ is delightful if consumed before the cheese clumps into a chewy mass. 
World’s best olives
 
If you’re aren’t averse to olives, the dish of world’s best olives on ice (S$7.50) surprisingly lives up to its claim with large and juicy olives that are more savoury than salty. With olives like these, who needs the accompanying back olive tapenade with crispy ‘music bread’?

Panna cotta with berries compote (left) and sour cherry bakewell (right) win raves
Affogato

Oliver leaves the best for last: the desserts. The sour cherry bakewell (S$9.50), a short crust pastry layered with tart berries jam and crowned with clementine rippled sour cream, wins raves, as does the silky ambrosia of panna cotta with berries compote (S$9). Better yet if you wash these down with affogato (S$8.50). 

Jamie’s Italian | Harbourfront Walk #01-165| Tel: 65-6733 5500 | www.jamiesitalian.sg

For picture story, visit www.facebook.com/bibikgourmand

© Evelyn Chen 2013

Please note that the reviews published in this blog are sometimes hosted. I am under no obligation to review every restaurant I’ve visited. If I do, the reviews are 100% my own.

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