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Food Happenings Reviews

Comfort and style in Italian dining

Esther Lew 23 October 2020
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New Chef-Owner Simone Fraternali of Solo Ristorante welcomes diners in the CBD.

Changes abound in the CBD area to rejuvenate the taste buds of corporate professionals returning to the office for staggered work weeks. Walk down Amoy Street and you will face an international array of rich culinary offerings. Planning a lunch meeting makes for thoughtful considerations in the right cuisine and ambience to make the right impact.

Nestled amidst these temptations is Solo Ristorante, a cosy modern Italian venue recently taken over by Chef-Partner Simone Fraternali who hails from Gradara in the Marche region. Chef Simone was previously from Michelin-starred restaurants Da Vittorio Relais & Chateaux in Brusaporto and La Tana Gourmet in Asiago before heading over to Singapore to join the pre-opening teams of IlLido’s Aura and IlLido at the Cliff restaurants.

Open kitchen and counter seating. Photo by Solo Ristorante.

The mood is warm and cosy, with ambient lighting, dark wood and tan furnishings for a stylish and comfortable look. The distinct dining spaces cater to the needs of professionals and casual diners alike. For a quick meal, the kitchen counter seats offer the best vantage point to watch the chef at work; the casual dining area with banquette seats is ideal for groups; and the more private dining area dressed with an end-to-end wooden wall display for Berlucchi’s bottles lend a sense of intimate exclusivity for lunch meetings.

Private dining area. Photo by Solo Ristorante.

Big, bold flavours tempered with restraint that allows more delicate notes to take over the palate define a style that is unabashed in its rich Northern influence, yet uplifted by the diverse flavour profiles of Italy’s regions. From the chef’s hometown to the region of Emilia-Romagna, the nuances of various regions were represented in Chef Simone’s dishes. The journey began with antipasti such as a Wagyu Carpaccio of Parmigiano Reggiano elevated with “Vacche Rosse 24 month” Shaving, Pickled Artichoke and Aceto Balsamico di Modena IGT; and Baked Eggplant “alla Parmigiana” with Buffalo Mozzarella & Spicy Basil to open up the palate. The tender Grade 5 Australian wagyu coupled with the sweet delicate profile of the beautifully aged cheese whetted the appetite, as did the deep-fried eggplant in a light tomato sauce.

Baked Eggplant “alla Parmigiana” with Buffalo Mozzarella & Spicy Basil. Photo by Solo Ristorante.

For the pasta dishes, I was particularly taken by the Gnocchi of Angus Beef Ragout “alla Bolognese” with Rosemary and Red Wine, which was so smooth and melt-in-the-mouth, achieved by using as little flour as possible, allowing the deep flavour of the six-hour ragout to stand out. My next favourite was the Tagliolini handcrafted with Sea Urchin, lightly tossed with smoky Uni sauce, Tarragon and Lemon Zest, which offered extremely umami and addictive bites. Another hearty option is the Pappardelle, homemade with slow-braised Pork Ragout, herbs and Marsala wine.

Gnocchi of Angus Beef Ragout “alla Bolognese” with Rosemary and Red Wine. Photo by Solo Ristorante.
Gnocchi of Angus Beef Ragout “alla Bolognese” with Rosemary and Red Wine. Photo by Solo Ristorante.

My favourite in the Secondi selections was the Faraona, a Guinea Fowl Sous Vide Breast, Extra Virgin Olive Oil Confit Leg, Oven Baked Banana Shallot and Natural Jus. Inspired by his family roast lunches, Chef Simone’s refined version is light and tender, well complemented by the natural jus from the poultry.

Faraona, a Guinea Fowl Sous Vide Breast, Extra Virgin Olive Oil Confit Leg, Oven Baked Banana Shallot and Natural Jus. Photo by Solo Ristorante.

To end, the Torta Al Limone of Amalfi Lemon and White Chocolate Curd Cake, Strawberries, and Basil Sorbet sweetened the palate with a nice balance of citrusy notes, while the Tortino Al Cioccolato of Coconut and Dark Chocolate 70% Lava, Toffee Yuzu & Orange Sorbet provided an uplifting finale.

Tortino Al Cioccolato of Coconut and Dark Chocolate 70% Lava, Toffee Yuzu & Orange Sorbet. Photo by Solo Ristorante.

45 Amoy Street. Tel: 62600762.

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