OSO Ristorante: Italian restaurants takes to newer heights at its new location @ OASIA Hotel Downtown

The real question is whether or not the food delivers on the same front as its new established heights off the ground.

OSO Ristorante previously located on Bukit Pasoh Road maintains its rigour and unmistakable melancholy in its set-up. White, stiff starched linen greets table tops, the oddly angled ginormous mirrors pandering to your stalkerish ways of taking stolen glanced at your picture perfect date. Don't get me wrong, it's a gorgeous space, the dry aging cabinet behind the high counter and the cheese room stowed away at the entrance providing inspirations for the meal to evolve. However, the real anchor in the equation is the emergence of a blue oasis, the sight of OASIA Hotel downtown's swimming pool through tall glass windows that provides a stark contrast and balances out the grandeur in the space.

I settled in with high hopes of the tasting menu (Surprise menu 6 courses for $91) only to have my feathers ruffled by my failure to reflect to the kitchen about my partner's allergy to shellfish prior to dinner. A quick chat with the server later and this was quickly rectified. OSO easily bagging that hospitality point with it's flexibility on the fly.

As do any regular Italian meal, this begins with warm Onion bread and extra virgin olive oil. It's delightful but you might want to save space for the tons of carbohydrate interceptions throughout the meal later. Sure enough, first course was the Timballo ($22) - Baked Sponge Bread, Toma and Black Truffle. A representation of humble home cooking, Timballo is deeply rooted in Italian culture; stripped down to its brilliant essence: pasta or rice bound with eggs or cheese baked into a mold. Instead, sponge bread takes its place, bounded by Italian cow's milk cheese, Toma. Crisp edged and steeped in the poignant flavours of black truffle, this dated dish makes a definitive first impression.

Bring on the second dish will you? The emergence of the Nero ($28) causing my tiny appetite to do backflips. A bed of Squid ink risotto comes glossy murky grey, each and every grain coated with a compelling gloss. Upon close observation, one would notice the rim of prawn head oil around the grains, revel in its intensity as it lends much depth in contrast to the herbaceousness of the marjoram.  Breaded sea bass atop teasing the palate with its elegant crumb.

Then there was pasta. I was left unimpressed by this one.  Possibly due to my partner's allergies, my dreams of Capelli D'Angelo was reduced to a dire looking vegetarian rendition that slapped together mushrooms, asparagus and garlic with strands of capellini pasta. The overall amalgamation crying out for more dressing and seasoning. 

Mains fared a whole lot better with the Acqua Pazza ($32) swooping into the rescue. Translating to crazy water in Italian, the broth beneath the sea bass leads ones taste buds to the bright side - herbed water used to poach the fish is tinted with tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil, making it slurp-worthy.

Our last course of Anatra ($48) was also my favourite of the night. Considering that I was suitably stuffed from the earlier 5 courses, the emergence of this elegant plate presenting deep resonating flavours is a revelation in itself. The neat slices of duck revealing centres as pink as a blushing bride. The duck gets smoked in oakwood, it's crisp edges and nicely rendered down fats seeing the interjection of whisky?!? Lagavulin to be exact, in hopes that its inherent peat characteristics would rub off more smokiness to the breast, to no avail. What I would say to that? - just hand me the dram of lagavulin please!

As do any trip to an Italian diner, desserts are not meant to be contemplated. We dove into our Dolci ($14) and Oso's Honey and Beetroot Cake ($14). Both ambrosial but not placing wild exclamation marks to conclude the meal. The former is your commonplace offering, sliced strawberries meets strawberry sherbet and balsamic. The shreds of basil, the defining characteristic of the estimable dessert. I much prefer the Honey cake which is plump with a deep resonating sweet vibrancy, the pink peppercorn confetti bringing out the velvety richness of the coconut sherbet.

OSO Ristorante threads in a very classical vein, paying homage to unwavering tradition; it's almost drab even. It's perilous to pass such a sweeping statement but my prior poor experience with this old-school establishment from Bukit Pasoh still stands firm. The glimmer of hope in that search for a spark of culinary brilliance only panning out when my eyes caught sight of the exuberant summer air poolside atmosphere. 

Oso Ristorante
100 Peck Seah Street
27th Floor
Oasia Hotel Downtown
t: 6327 8378

Operating Hours:
Daily: 12 - 2 30pm; 6 - 10 30pm

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