For this Munchy Mondays, here’s a special Valentine’s menu from inITALY – just in time to celebrate love and friendship with an exquisite menu of Italian classics.
Tucked in a cosy shophouse along Craig Road, inItaly has been serving classic Italian dishes for over 6 years. Helmed by Chef Mario Caramello, a gastronomic globetrotter and unofficial figurehead for overseas Italian cuisine, this unpretentious and cozy Italian restaurant has been quietly serving Italian cuisine quite unlike any other – from pink-hued beetroot risotto to roast suckling pig, Chef Mario ensures that each dish was an Italian classic before Italian became worldwide.
Coming in just in time for this Valentine’s Day weekend, Chef Mario has crafted a menu to romance the taste buds – the Valentine’s Day Set Menu ($150++ for two) seduces with five courses of delicious fare – it’s Italian food like you’ve never experienced before.
The night begins with a playful teaser of Stuzzicappetito – a generous heaping of finely shaven parmigiano that literally melts in your mouth – accompanied by two complimentary glasses of sparkling prosecco.
The second course, is the succulent Scallops Carpaccio seasoned with Dry Pink Peppercorn and Tomato Emulsion drizzle. The scallops come in a tomato and olive oil sauce that is gently beaten into a refreshingly light, smooth mayonnaise with the amino acids in the tomato taking the place of the eggs otherwise found in traditional recipes, making it both healthier and lighter than a conventional mayo dressing and giving it a mildly acidic character much closer to a gazpacho. Thus rather than over-powering the delicate creaminess of the fresh scallops, it envelopes them in a thin, smooth blanket of sauce allowing the flavours of both to come to the fore, first with the sauce tickling your taste buds, while the scallops linger longer on the palate.
Next is the Lobster Spaghettini with Coriander Pesto & Ginger that is an innovative spin on the idea of conventional pesto pasta. Utilizing both traditional Italian flavours (like pesto), and seemingly ‘local’ flavours like ginger and coriander, what at first glance could be simply seen as an East-West fusion dish, is actual an homage to Italy’s ancient culinary traditions. The result is a marriage of both familiar herbal hints, like pesto and coriander suffused with a fresh pop of ginger lurking in the background of each bite, giving the dish a distinct, clean finish.
While the strong coriander and ginger flavours may seem Asian, historically speaking they’ve been used in Italian cuisine much longer than the humble tomato!
Crispy Skin Boneless Suckling Pig
The carne (meat) portion of the meal is the succulent suckling pig – with its extremely crispy skin, it not surprisingly makes for a rich, fulfilling taste that lingers. As they say, timing is everything and in this case the suckling pig is cleverly served after the pasta; since with its commanding taste, even as a small portion if taken earlier in the meal would simply drown out the more delicate scallop or pesto dishes.
Eaten in tandem with the stewed prunes, each mouthful is a perfectly balanced savoury-sweet whole unto itself. All of which is laid over a bed of peppers and tomatoes, further complimenting the earthy richness of the pork.
Made of sugar, egg yolk, citrus sorbet and Mandarin orange slices, the Cointreau Sabayaon has a refreshing, light, airy texture that reawakens your contentedly slumbering taste buds. The dashes of moscato and Cointreau make this the perfect, feather-light finish to such a gastronomically diverse meal. You may just find the combination of warm Sabayon and cold sorbet an interesting way to enjoy your dessert.
Those of you who like to end their meals with coffee, inItaly serves one of Italy’s best – Illy – with the humble espresso recommended by Chef Mario as the perfect meal finisher.
Situated in a quiet neighbourhood surrounded by high-end eateries, inItaly is reasonably priced. The Valentine’s Day set dinner is a great value, considering it’s for 2 and includes alcohol (both in the starter and the dessert). For a normal night, their menu is extensive and includes items rarely found in any Italian restaurant – think raw beef carpaccio, risotto with eel and beetroot sauce, fried frog legs, and the like.
Chef Caramella even owns his own vineyards in Queensland – the sprawling Ballandean Estate – and serves his own boutique wines as part of his extensive in-house wine list.
inItaly manages to retain a fine balance between fine dining and casual atmosphere – the leather seating gives the place a very gentrified look, while the stucco walls and hand-painted wine cellar give the restaurant a homey feel. The bar area is an inviting place, not just because the ceiling is adorned with a pair of bicycles from Chef Mario’s personal collection. Tucked away under an awning and a courtyard, the restaurant itself feels secluded, and is ideal for a quiet dinner with loved ones.
inITALY Bar Ristorante
38 Craig Road, Singapore 089676
Opening Hours: Mondays – Saturdays: 11pm – 3pm, 6pm – 10pm
Tel: +65 6423 0918