Cicheti: and then there were Italian small plates

Before stepping through the rustic black wooden doors, a thought crossed my mind; I was sure the Italians would be equally bewildered and perhaps outraged by the notion of Italian cuisine served in small plates format. Slowly taking my time to adjust to the sheer darkness of the interiors, after just having wandered around the bright-light, touristy outskirts of Kampong Glam, I let the oddity of the situation slide. Ordering a glass of house white to soothe my nerves.

Cicheti is Kampong Glam's newest addition. A narrow shopfront reveals a massive monster of an oven right in the middle of the service floor; the pizza maker revelling (or not) in the rousing heat of its hell-like hearth, the balls of dough proofing ever so slightly from the heat of the atmosphere. Gleaming in through the glass doors meant to separate this inferno and the slightly cooler interiors, we watched as spectators, as the maestro does a pronounced counter spinning motion followed by a swift arrangement of assorted ingredients.

Our meal began with my mandatory order of Calamari Mollica Di Pane ($11). Crisp fried calamari in homemade breading served with garlic aioli dip. My feathers were left unruffled. The word 'homemade' making excuses for its crumbing which was under seasoned and slightly too stodgy. Aside from the fact that the calamari could have used a good 20 seconds out of the deep fryer; the self professed garlic aioli lacked any resounding trace of garlic (not that my companion was complaining since he's very much a hater.)


We were told the Duo Caprese was not available and pointed in the direction of a house special salad ($15) instead which turned out to be an exact replica of the former, sans the fried mozzarella and with a ton more rocket piled over the top. A decent medley of boccocini, cherry tomatoes, balsamic and rocket. There was just no 'umph' in there.

And as the oven-obsessed owner would trumpet, the heart and soul of Cicheti lies in its pizzas. I was eager to get that in my belly.

A couple more glasses of wine and a Peroni later, our beautiful bubble crusted pizza stood in full glory before us. The Bismark ($19), had ham, bacon, mushrooms lying on a bed of homemade tomato sauce, before being sprinkled with a liberal dosage of mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. To further feed the illusion, an egg is cracked right in the middle, tossed in the oven for a couple more seconds before being plated. The result, an imperfect, blistered edged pizza with delicious dark patches of burn marks and a delicate spot of sunshine in the middle. Chef Lim might have misjudged the cooking time of the dough while juggling the finesse of the perfect runny egg that led to a severely under-cooked bottom. Raw dough... outrageous. Nonetheless, we polished our plates in respect of alcohol laden stomachs.

Cicheti falls short of expectations on so many levels. Yet the tight spaces within the establishment allows for a lot of food ogling situations especially with thy neighbours. Perhaps I'll be back for the pastas.

52 Kandahar Street
Singapore 198901
Tel: 6292 5012

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