|The bar at Osteria Art|
|The handsome dining room at Osteria Art|
Beppe De Vito is on a roll.
Within weeks of opening iLido Bali in April, he’s back in his adopted hometown of Singapore for the debut of Osteria Art.
Opened since 18 May 2015, Osteria Art took over a space vacated by a canteen in Market Street.
Far from its less glamorous past, the 80-seat Italian newbie is decidedly swanky, with a buzzy bar in Italian marble and copper table lamps leading up to an elegantly masculine dining room enlivened by red leather seats and S$10,000-a-piece brass sconce.
It’s a fitting scene for the Central Business District’s moneyed and power-lunching crowd.
Thankfully, an aperitif and/or a dinner here will not create a huge dent in your credit card.
Save for a few exceptions, cocktails are generally priced below S$18 and house pours from S$10 to S$18.
Food-wise, antipasti and pasta offerings are mostly in the S$20s, with mains weighing in slightly higher at S$32 to S$49 each (the suckling pig porchetta for two, priced at S$98, is bit of an outlier).
For Osteria Art, De Vito has written a fresh “libretto” that veers from the modern leaning that iLido Sentosa, which is closing in August, is known for. It trades hip for elegance, emphasizes refined classics over contemporary pizzazz.
During our dinner a week after its debut, we braved the packed bar and scored a table to sample some of De Vito’s menu pickings.
|Grilled baby romaine with bottarga|
Grilled baby romaine lettuce (S$20) from the antipasti menu arrived gently scorched and slathered in a light but savoury Caesar-inspired dressing enriched with barely-there shaved bottarga. It wasn’t a complicated dish but the layering of smoky flavour with hints of bottarga umami made this a highlight.
|Porcini mushroom flan|
The creamy and savoury porcini mushroom flan (S$22) was another standout. Served moated in a pool of thick leek veloute, the earthy parcel of joy was made complete with a generous shower of Umbrian truffle shavings.
The pasta dishes also demonstrated a level of finesse.
|Spaghetti, octopus, nduja|
Spaghetti with octopus and nduja (S$28) was served nicely al dente with a transfixing depth of flavour and just enough heat to keep things exciting (thankfully it wasn’t tear-jerking).
The homemade beef agnolotti (S$28) was equally delicious – the Piedmont specialty has its place in the menu to “move” leftover meats but don’t pass on the opportunity to savour it. Served in roasted beef jus with lashings of truffle shavings, the delicate pasta “dumplings” gave way to the soft and somewhat mushy ooze of the ground beef within.
For mains, you can’t go wrong with the Milanese standard of oso bucco garnished with gremolata and potato puree (S$38). The braised veal shank arrived all saucy and fork tender but it wasn’t exceptional. We wouldn’t re-order it on our next trip.
|Black cod cacciucco with scampi|
The black cod cacciucco with scampi (S$32), a fish stew dish native to Tuscany and Liguria, on the other hand, was first rate. Basking gloriously in a robust – but skimpy – broth were pieces of sautéed Canadian black cod, each cooked a la minute and topped with the sweetest shelf-off scampi.
|Bollito misto soup with bone marrow|
If there’s anything on the menu that required tweaking, it was the starter of bollito misto broth with bone marrow crostino (S$23). A classic northern Italian stew cooked with various cuts of different meats including beef and chicken in vegetable broth, the dish sounded promising on paper. But much to our chagrin, the skimmed and strained clear consommé arrived a tad weak, the blobs of bone marrow under-seasoned and the crostino frail, if under-toasted.
|Coffee chocolate profiterole|
|Olive oil cake with Amalfi coast lemon sorbet|
The desserts fared better. Chocolate lovers would appreciate the coffee and chocolate profiterole (S$12) given its strong cocoa skew. The olive oil cake with amalfi coast lemon sorbet (S$15) stood out for the amazingly refreshing sorbet although we’ve had more divine olive oil cakes elsewhere.
We applaud De Vito’s latest CBD outing, it’s a valid attempt at plugging a gaping hole for affordable yet refined Italian fare in the financial district. With a 500 label-strong wine list, a la carte-only offerings plus an incredibly affordable S$32++ set lunch deal, it appeals to both the expense account types and shoestring lunch crowd. Plus, it has a bar that actually pulsates. What’s not to like?
If you want to know what success smells like, come over and watch De Vito in action before he gets busy with his iconic new concept at the soon-to-open National Gallery.
55 Market Street, Singapore 048 941 |+65 6877 6933 | osteriaart.com
© Evelyn Chen 2013
Please note that the reviews published on 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.