|Interior of Gattopardo|
I’ve visited Gattopardo several times since it opened at Fort Canning in 2010 and after its subsequent move to Tras Street. This Italian eatery by chef-owner, Lino Sauro, a native of Sicily, prides itself on Sicilian-accented Italian specialties and in the Zagat Singapore guide that I worked on few years back (that was never published), it emerged Singapore’s highest-rated Italian eatery. That had piqued my curiosity since my personal experiences had fallen short perhaps owing to unusually high expectations. But a recent trip to explore Gattopardo’s newly launched menu gives me reasons to be optimistic.
|Gambero rosso carpaccio|
Apart from pouring extra virgin olive oil specially produced for the restaurant by a 100-year-old farm where Sauro’s father and brothers work, Gattopardo now serves gambero rosso, a wild-caught Sicilian red ruby-prawn fished by the third-generation Giacalone family in Marzara del Vallo city that has been on the menu since the restaurant’s inception, as a carpet of carpaccio (S$30) with a refreshing oil of chervil, anchovy essence, dollops of mayonnaise, chopped olives, pickled radish and pearls of ikura. Vibrant in colours and flavours yet refined in presentation, this is one of Sauro’s strongest acts yet. (4.5/5)
|Sicilian red prawn ravioli, melted burrata, black truffle shavings|
The same scrumptious Sicilian red prawn also arrives stuffed in a dumpling-like ravioli (S$30) topped with melted burrata cheese and black truffle shavings. Served in a shallow but intensely savoury bath of cooking jus, it’s simple but breathtaking. (4.25/5)
To showcase the importance of sardines in Sicilian cuisine, Sauro also offers stuffed sardines (S$22). The plump Japanese sardines are first warmed in the oven then stuffed with blended raisins, pine nuts, garlic, parsley and breadcrumbs, rolled-up and served on a piece of toast. Whilst I generally prefer pristine sardine fillets to be served unadulterated, the stuffing is tasty and gives the dish a deliciously rustic edge. (4/5)
|Squid-ink tonnarelli, seafod, nduja, pistachio pesto sauce|
Pistachios, another staple in Sicilian cooking, also get extensive airtime on the menu. Try the dish of house-made squid ink tonnarelli (S$34) tossed with not-overly-chewy cuttlefish, succulent bouchot mussels and a schmear of heady nduja paste served in a pesto sauce made from pistachio nuts. It’s a refreshing departure from what you are used to. (4.25/5)
|The highly-rated signature seafood stew|
For mains, it’s convenient to just re-order Sauro’s signature seafood stew (S$42) that arrives with a riot of octopus, calamari, snapper, seabass and shrimps in a hearty prawn shell and head-rendered sweet broth slow-cooked with zucchini, carrots and onions. (4.5/5)
|Monkfish, lard, snow pea sauce|
But I urge you to give Sauro’s monkfish (S$44) a shot – it’s an uncomplicated dish of pan-roasted monkfish enrobed in a layer of lard that arrives with snow pea sauce alongside dollops of reduced red wine and slices of beet confit. There is beauty in its simplicity only because the fish is cooked just as it should, with its flesh still succulent and its flavour beautifully interjected with a barely-there hint of lard. (4/5)
|Sicilian blood orange custard, espresso coffee granita, lemon sorbet|
For desserts, I am inclined to recommend Sicilian blood orange custard with espresso coffee granita and lemon sorbet (S$16) because orange pairs curiously well with coffee. (3.75/5)
But if you’ve not tried the signature dessert of Sicilian cannolo (S$16), it’s high time you do. A menu fixture, the deep-fried wafer cone is filled with ricotta cream and it arrives in a prickly pear sauce with pistachio ice cream. It has everything I want in a dessert – not-too-sweet, slightly creamy, nutty, crispy and somewhat savoury and it trumps the all-too-common tiramisu that continues to hoard the dessert menu in Italian eateries. (4.25/5)
In a city where Italian eateries are a dime and a dozen, Sauro has found a perfect recipe to stand out from the crowd. Remarkably, this recipe lies not just in concocting a storied Sicilian-anchored concept but is rooted firmly in classic Italian flavours and kitchen execution that I can no longer find fault with.
© 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.