|Facade of Gattopardo on Tras Street|
In a city flooded with Italian eateries, the addition of yet another should not raise any eyebrows.
But Lino Sauro, one-time alum of DOMVS at Sheraton Towers and chef-patron of the newly opened Gattopardo Ristorante di Mare (“Gattopardo”), looks set to stir the local foodie bloggerati abuzz. After a 3-year sojourn at Legends Fort Canning Park as Gattopardo Italian Grill and Pizza Bar, Sauro is bucking the casual-dining trend and going upscale with his February 2014 transplant to far swankier digs at Tras Street.
|Counter seats (left), 2nd floor main dining room (mid), 2nf floor private dining salon (right)|
Spread over 2 units of double storey shop house space at Tras Street, Sauro’s swish new roost seats just 70 (instead of 170 at its former Fort Caning space). But small it may be, it’s truly beautiful – think dark wood planked floor, white washed walls adorned with Italian-inspired paintings and posters, minimalist suede chairs and black leather banquettes against white linen-blanketed tables. Given its vernacular shop house setting, Sauro has created various spaces, some more intimate than others, out of every nook and cranny: a casual 5-seat seafood counter that abuts an open-concept kitchen and a cosy glass-gated 6-seat private room on level 1; a roomy 40-seat formal dining room and a 20-seat private dining salon with soaring ceiling on level 2; and a bucolic alfresco courtyard for sipping aperitif on the ground floor.
Befitting its new seafood-centric name and northwards reach (dollar-wise), Sauro has eschewed humble pizzas and rustic grilled fare in favour of artfully composed Italian/Mediterranean seafood creations that span a good 80% of the spread. Not surprisingly, prices have also edged up (starters are now priced from S$22 to S$38 while mains start from S$30) although these are hardly considered astronomical given the relatively generous portion sizes.
|Less is more: a blanket of Petuna ocean trout|
Rosy-pink carpaccio of Petuna ocean trout (S$32) is an epitome of less is more – wafer-thin sliver of the Tasmanian delicacy arrives crowned with morsels of subtly sweet cubed persimmon and leek shavings drizzled with home-made mayonnaise.
|‘Must-order’: Grilled calamari, barley, red prawn broth|
The following dish is equally – if not more – impressive: grilled calamari (S$28) chock-a-block with lovely smoky tangs basking in a puddle of barley-flecked red prawn broth scented with tarragon.
|Risoni pasta with bone marrow butter|
The ethereal journey continues with briny flavours from the sea via the risoni pasta (S$34) – the rice-shaped short cut pasta is cooked until al dente, tossed with braised octopus bits then served with twin dollops of barely-discernible bone marrow butter.
There are lull moments. Plump and juicy Norwegian scallops (S$34 for 2 servings) are served shell-on, with mushy chickpea puree and broccoli rabe puree that we don’t care very much for.
|John Dory, Jerusalem artichoke, Prosecco broth|
The meal also hits a momentary staccato at mains, a well composed dish of John Dory (S$44) flanked by earthy chunks of Jerusalem artichoke and piquant pickled shallots in a delicate and dreamy Prosecco broth arrives with hunks of – unfortunately – overcooked fish.
|Hazelnuts-flecked homemade nougat parfait|
All lingering thoughts of the chewy fish evaporate into thin air when the dessert arrives. The redeemer? A hearty sweet of hazelnuts-flecked homemade nougat parfait alongside Noto almond dip (S$18), a Sauro signature. This dessert alone is worthy of a detour.
|Lino Sauro is still cooking in the kitchen…|
Besides the above average seafood and must-have nougat parfait, there are more compelling reasons to grace Gattopardo: Sauro remains one of few Italian veteran-chefs still cooking in the kitchen today and this, to us, is an investment that will pay dividend.
Just you wait and see – the CBD crowd will lap it up.
Gattopardo Ristorante di Mare | 34/36 Tras Street | 6338 5498
© 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.