Otto Ristorante


TRAVERSING ACROSS THE heated open decks of the Red Dot Traffic Building, sweats of prespiration trickled down my back involuntarily. I shuffled my toes under the tight band of my shoe strap and clunged onto my boyfriend's arm almost a little too tight.

As soon as we put our first foot into the ristorante, all anxiety melted away. "Seats for two please. We've got no reservations," I said in my coyest voice. The maître d', decked in his smartest suit complete with immaculate composure leaned forward and swung his burly arm to the side, "certainly. This way please."

A feeling of joy and immense excitment for the adventure unfolding before my eyes filled me up. Breathing the affluent air, I was thrilled to see the chains of shiny reflective surfaces rippling seductively across the windows and the deep, private feel of the room. Gray cushioned chairs lined with vivid red dashes sprawled the the theatre. My eyes swept across the clean white linen on the tabletops, my gaze interrupted by the occasional glitter of cutlery and glass. And as we were led to one of the tables that edged against the window revealing the expanse of the courtyard. I put my hand on the band of metal, appreciating its cool smoothness. As I folded myself into the chair, we were presented with our menus followed by a quick explanation on the set lunch menu by the maître d'. I languidly took a sip of cool tap water which I had specially requested from the frosted goblets to calm my nerves and perused the menu.


After our ordeal of ordering, our wine was brought to the ice bucket for chilling. Gavi, of certain Italian roots was the selection for the day as recommended by our lovely sommeliar whom thought half a bottle would do us just fine. I for once was obedient and thankful for it too. Across the table, Babe produced a deep sigh of contentment. When the wine was poured, he picked up his glass and took a tentative sip, slooshed it around his mouth and tilt his head back. He smiled and took another.


A fresh basket of bread was the next item of our fixation. The waiter, silver tongs in hand and a large basket of assorted breads in the other was making his usual rounds. Graciously, a generous slice of Sweet Onion Foccacia and another two thin slices of Walnut bread was placed on the white platter beside me. This was followed by the swift pouring of extra virgin olive oil from the most vintage bottle I've ever laid eyes on. From this moment on, I was taken. The bread nonetheless was excellent. In fact, I was about to announce my urge to purchase the fresh bread off the rack the next time. But I resisted.


What appeared next was a surprise. Salted Cod and warm polenta as appertifs compliemts of the Chef. With each lick of the spoon, my mind sparked like a lighted fuse. I murmed my silent 'oh-my-god' under my breath and generally sucked the rest of my surprise in so as not to startle the rest. It soon came to pass, the power bestowed in the room, my ears slowly adjusting to the luxurious murmur of money and hard-driven career woes of the powerful office-ladies around.


Our appetisers appeared almost as if a circus act had come to town. With one waiter re-adjusting the locality of the other plates on the table and one more positioning the fresh plates on the white linen. I had the Beef Carpaccio with mushroom salad and parmesan cheese shavings whilst Babe had the Sauteed baby neck clam and green zucchini in white wine sauce. A mount of greens bordered by thinly sliced beef greeted by hungry stare. The sprinkling of white sheets of parmesan and funghi adding to the glamor of the entire affair. The dish in all was hearty in portions with the lemon and dill dressing of the salad offsetting the heaviness of its settings. The touch of saltiness from the parmesan a welcome flavor to the mad party.


I lifted my eyes to see Babe already ravenously prying at the clams, making sure to slurp the hidden juices in every clam shell before disposing them in a heap on another clean plate. Occasionally dipping his spoon into the broth to awaken the palate. I prized the moment staring at him lapping up the food.


Not long after the appetiser plates boring signs of our memorable feasting were cleared, we were presented with our mains. When the Korabuta pork rack arrived, I was stunned by the eveness of the meat. I tasted it and tasted it again, wondering how could the scent of fennel seeds possibly make this rack so much more delicious than it already was. The flesh was firm to the knife yet tender and moist to the teeth. I felt as the bite-sized morsel swirled it's way beneath my tongue and along the sides, and then admired the chew of the flesh as it was crushed beneath my teeth. Wonderful.


"You want to try some?" uttered Babe across the table. Breaking my invicible chain of thought. I nodded agreeably. Instantly, a forkful of carefully knitted portion of salmon fillet met my lips. This my friend, is a simple luxury with the richness of the salmon fully demonstrated in a single bite. Unlike the usual versions with cream sauce laden over the overcooked salmon, Otto's version was served unadulterated. a testimony of its confidence in it's quality. The crispy skin of the salmon scored with bits of coarse sea salt was perhaps the most expressive of the fish, i could certainly have a whole lot of this if available.

and while it was all cleared away, the clean plates stained by juices we had failed to lick up, the maître d' turns and catches my eye. "the bone a little too hard for you, miss?", as he eyes the lonely bone sitting on top my plate, his accent chillingly lights up the room again, the twinkle in his eyes unmistakably mischievous. "Most definitely sir," I whispered huskily. Must have been the wine...

Otto ristorante offers a weekly change in lunch sets at a nominal fee of $38+. I would like to think that these depend a little more on seasonal ingredients, but with the influx of fresh ingredients to the ports of Singapore all year round, I highly doubt so. Still, it is clear that the restaurant rarely disappoints in terms of its choices.


"Desserts," I said now, almost reverently. I liked the Tiramisu' di OTTO al Caffe "Giamaica", with its glistering chocolate shavings dispersed over the cup and the crowning of an immaculate perforated chocolate decor. Still, the star of the show would have to be the Gelati e Sorbetti di OTTO. a concotion of fresh picked berries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and berry compote piled into a deep martini glass, then topped off with a scoop of vanilla bean ice-cream and just in case it got lonely, another scoop of strawberry sorbet and finally a fragile sugar tuile fluttered above all. This dessert was thoroughly amazing, with the strawberry sorbet blasting notes of a summer romance in every spoonful, the vanilla icecream providing that rich boost and the buttery tuile crumbling to bits upon first bite. Italian coffee in its riches form soon greeted the table and not long after, we bade farewell to OTTO.


" It was a fantastic meal," I concede, straightening my hair as we heading out into the searing heat. 3 weeks later, it still was. A restaurant so exciting that I wrote this review long after still eager to remember every bite.


Otto Ristorante
28 Maxwell Road #01-02

Tel: 6227 6819



Anonymous said...

hahaha i enjoyed reading your descriptions of the food, very entertaining :)

is this set lunch or dinner? how much is the damage? lol

Sihan said...

thanks Brad.

anyway, it's the set lunch. priced at $38+ for the 3 courses. But we had a bottle of wine to go along. so that was $160 thrown out of the window in total. All worth it in my opinion of course. hah.

Elaine Ng. said...

the complimentary bread looks real yummy! oh man..i so feel like trying otto after reading your entry =D

Jer Lin said...

nice blog! lovely pics you've got here (: