Fulfilling, kid-friendly and oh-so-tasty, pasta is undoubtedly a crowd pleaser.
These 6 restaurants prove that when cooked right, it can make you sing with joy. And no, we’re not just talking about the usual Italian options…
Carbonara, done right, is such an amazing dish – slurp-worthy pasta coated ever so lightly with a smooth creamy-savoury sauce. But it really is not easy to find a satisfying carbonara these days, and we are talking about a real carbonara prepared with the classic combination of pancetta, Parmesan cheese, black pepper and egg yolks (read: no cream!). We are happy to report that Head Chef Luca Beccalli serves a brilliant version at Basilico with the added goodness of shaved black truffles.
When the Spaghettoni (a slightly thicker version of spaghetti) alla Carbonara e Tartufo ($33) is served, you will want to put your phone away and attack it immediately as it is best enjoyed piping hot. Other pastas, such as the handmade Tagliatelle with a rich Wagyu beef bolognese and aged Parmesan cheese, are wonderful as well. Both pastas are available on the dinner a la carte menu.
Basilico Italian Restaurant
Level 2, Regent Singapore, 1 Cuscaden Road, 249715
Tel: 6725 3088
While searching for squid ink pastas, we found two main versions: One has pasta (usually spaghetti) cooked in a deep black sauce, which seems to be the more old school way, and the other has the ink incorporated into the pasta dough so the dark inky pasta is then paired with other sauces. Both versions have their merits, but if we had to enjoy the characteristic briny taste of squid ink in the company of associates and friends then we would go for the latter.
At Gattopardo Ristorante di Mare, the squid ink pasta is still painstakingly handmade and Sicilian chef-owner Lino Sauro, who advocates using sustainably-farmed seafood, combines the toothsome pasta with seasonal seafood. It could be Atlantic blue lobster and brandy one month and Argentinian prawns the next. Presently, the homemade squid ink pasta is prepared with Queensland spanner crab and Nduja (a spicy spreadable salami, say: en-doo-ya). Best enjoyed with a glass of chilled white wine or Prosecco.
Gattopardo Ristorante di Mare
34 Tras Street, 079026
Tel: 6338 5498
Love mentaiko pasta? Then you have Kabe no Ana (it means “Hole in the Wall” in Japanese) to thank. This eatery, founded by Takayasu Narimatsu in Chuo-ku of Tokyo in 1953, first served spaghetti in Tokyo in the ’50s and ’60s when pasta was a relatively unfamiliar food in Japan. They were also known to be the first to incorporate natto (fermented soybeans) and mentaiko (marinated cod roe) in their pasta, thus pioneering the new wafu (or Japanese-style) pasta wave.
We hear that mentaiko spaghetti in particular, was inspired by the request of a regular Kabe no Ana customer who suggested adding caviar to his spaghetti — they improvised and replaced caviar with tarako (salted cod roe or pollock roe) instead. You can find Kabe no Ana’s mentaiko pasta dishes (think: Mentaiko Carbonara, Mentaiko Ebi Kinoko (mentaiko with prawn and shimeji mushroom) and more) in Singapore at Shokutsu Ten Japanese Food Street.
Kabe no Ana
#B1-80 NEX, 23 Serangoon Central, 556083
Tel: 6634 8024
Lavo, perched atop Marina Bay Sands (MBS) at 57-stories above-ground, takes the Italian-American classic of Spaghetti and Meatballs ($48) to new heights. Chef Ralph Scarmardella, Chef and Partner of Tao Group (Lavo is a collaboration between MBS and Tao Group), tells us that the famous Lavo Meatball consists of freshly ground veal, pork and imperial Wagyu beef.
It is always prepared by hand, never a machine. For the sauce, ingredients include Italian canned tomatoes, basil, parsley, onions, olive oil, salt and pepper. The whole dish takes about three hours to prepare. The result is a meatball pasta dish that has deep, rich meaty flavours with a slightly spicy finish. Best come for dinner, the view is spectacular.
Level 57, Tower 1, Sands Skypark, Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Avenue, 018956
Tel: 6688 8591
Fideua is essentially a paella that uses short pasta instead of rice, and it is absolutely delicious. Well, at least at Ola Cocina Del Mar it is. Chef-owner Daniel Chavez, who worked with the late Catalan masterchef Santi Santamaria for many years, helms the contemporary and cozy Spanish restaurant. Chef Chavez’s version of fideua is hearty, satisfying and packed with flavour from his intense seafood-based stock.
Short, thin fideos (or fideus) pasta is toasted in a large paella pan and cooked in that amazing stock with bits of sausages and finished in a very hot oven so there are crispy bits that the local diners favour. It is then studded with seafood, such as sweet fresh langoustines and prawns, and served with a creamy garlicky aioli sauce. A squeeze of lemon provides a touch of brightness and completes the dish. One portion can serve two to three people, but likely, you will not want to share.
OLA Cocina Del Mar
#01-06 Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 3, 12 Marina Boulevard, 018982
Tel: 6604 7050
While the Laksa Pesto Linguine by local chef Willin Low has quite a following, we would now like to bring the spotlight to another local-inspired creation Chef Low serves at Relish: The Hae Bee Hiam Spaghettini ($22.80). This mod-sin pasta dish tossed with spicy shrimp belachan, conpoy (dried scallops) and tiger prawns hits the spot if you are looking something spicy, punchy and yummy.
While you are there, do also try their spam fries served with kaffir lime mayo ($9.50) and the lip-smacking Wild Rocket Beef Burger with Sarawak black pepper sauce ($19.20).
Relish @ Cluny Court
#02-01 Cluny Court, 501 Bukit Timah Road, 259760
By Xie Huiqun, November 2018 / Updated October 2020
More on The Finder: