With such a vast array of Italian eateries across Singapore, it can be difficult to know exactly where to go for authentic and quality cuisine. Luckily (for us and for you), we’ve tried and tested tons of dishes to bring you some of the best options on the island. So, read on for restaurant reviews, readers’ recs and Italian wine picks.
Go for: Family-friendly Italian eats
We came on a Wednesday evening, and the eatery was pretty full, especially with families with young children. This casual joint serves Italian fare based on recipes by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, with a variety of antipasti, handmade pastas, pizzas and hearty mains available, as well as a kids’ menu for little diners. Vegetarians also have numerous options to choose from.
To start, we enjoyed the crab arancini (fried crab risotto balls, $15.95), which came crisp and hot in a portion of three, and paired well with the yuzu lime and yoghurt sauce. If you like cold cuts and cheese, order the San Daniele prosciutto board ($13.95) or Jamie’s burrata ($15.95); or, go all out with the Ultimate Plank ($39.95), which includes a variety of cured meats and fish, cheese and other antipasti treats.
Next up, we had the prawn linguine ($18.95/$27.95); flavourful and tasty, it had a hint of spice and came with a generous portion of prawns. We also liked the Jamie’s Italian burger ($34.95) for its juicy beef patty. For sides, we’d recommend the smooth and creamy truffle mash potatoes ($7.95) topped with black truffle shavings. For dessert, we dug into three large scoops of tangy passionfruit sorbet ($11.95) and the yummy molten chocolate praline pudding ($14.95) paired with salted caramel ice cream.
The must-try: Crab arancini
Tip: Don’t miss Jamie’s $24.90 two-course lunch set (add dessert for $8) and a three-course dinner for $39.90.
– LINDSAY YAP
Go for: Classic and casual cuisine
Stepping downstairs into Pete’s Place (just turn left from the Grand Hyatt’s main entrance), feels like you’re entering a secret, underground eatery – you’ve probably walked by it time and again without realising it was even there! Only, it’s not actually a secret, as it was crowded with families and groups of friends on the Saturday night we went. Nevertheless, you’ll be glad you discovered Pete’s, because it’s a great place to know when you’re looking for a family-friendly, relaxed atmosphere and classic Italian eats – everything from pastas and pizzas to meat and seafood dishes aplenty.
We started with the salad bar ($24), an all-you-can-eat buffet of fresh veggies and anything else you’d want to top your salad with (hello, Parmesan shavings!), and bread counter with an assortment of yummy breads and homemade herb butters. We also started with the delicious eggplant Parmesan ($16), which I highly recommend.
As for our pasta picks, we ultimately chose the spaghetti cioppino ($46) with plum tomato sauce, Maine lobster, blue swimmer crab meat, clams and black tiger prawns, and the just-as-delicious-as-it-sounds ravioli di ricotta (ricotta and spinach ravioli with egg and brown butter; $20). Yes, we also ordered the Margherita pizza ($18), which was overkill, but soooo worth it for the quality of the dough! If you can manage it, finish things off with the sinful morbido al cioccolato ($16) – warm chocolate fondant with Nutella ice cream and cherries.
The must-try: Ravioli di ricotta
– AMY GREENBURG
Go for: Party platters and pizzas
“Chi mangia da solo si strozza!” – or, to put it in English, “He who eats alone, chokes!” It’s a reminder that food is best enjoyed in the company of others, and this Italian proverb is the backbone of the Ricciotti ethos. With a loyal following since 2004, this riverside spot is a great option for families and groups – a modern, open-concept vibe with river views and attentive, hospitable staff that make you feel you’re being hosted in their own home.
Honest Italian fare is the go here, with every dish being hearty, hefty and Instagram-worthy. To start – and for a real group pleaser – we recommend you couple the caprese salad ($20) with the platter of cold cuts (tagliere di affettati gnocco fritto, $26); the aged Parma ham, pistachio mortadella, smoked Tiroler speck and spicy finocchiona salami go perfectly with the ultra creamy buffalo mozzarella and salty fried bread.
Picking a pasta or meat to share is easy; the lamb loin agnello alla Ligure ($36) comes perfectly cooked and ready-sliced for sharing, while the ravioli del plin ($28 – “plin” refers to the act of pinching the ravioli to close it) is easily portioned with a generous pool of rich Parmesan cream, porcini mushrooms and veal jus to scoop up. It takes considerable deliberation, however, to agree on the three flavours that will make up your Pizza Mezzo Metro ($54) – a half-metre-long pizza made for sharing. There are 15 flavours to choose from; two definitely worth including are capricciosa (artichokes mushrooms, baked ham, black olives) and the Genovese (Burratina DOP, basil pesto Taggiasca olives, green beans and pine nuts).
The must-try: Ravioli del plin
– LEANDA RATHMELL
Go for: Exquisite Italian fare by the pool
Located in the grand surrounds of The St. Regis, La Brezza serves classic Italian dishes with a modern flair in an elegant setting. The décor is refined yet cosy; think grey and wood furnishings, plush armchairs and an open kitchen towards the back. Opt for window seats for an intimate evening (which was what we did) or sit outside by the pool if you prefer an even more relaxed atmosphere.
Heading the kitchen is Italian chef Armando Aristarco, who boasts a decade of culinary experience in Egypt, Italy and Singapore. We sampled the sixcourse degustation experience ($132 per person), where most of the dishes are available in the new à la carte summer menu. A standout for us was risotto with Sicilian red prawn and caviar. This main featured a generous dash of Amalfi lemon zest, which gave the otherwise safe dish a refreshing and different element. Another favourite was organic egg, fava bean and pecorino fondue with crispy guanciale; this creamy number will be a hit with anyone who loves cheese and bacon!
The must-try: Homemade ravioli with pork cheek and carrot, with al dente pasta stuffed with incredibly tender meat, on top of a carrot puree for added sweetness. The flavours are simple and familiar, but the dish was well executed! It’s not available as part of the à la carte menu yet, so you’ll have to order the degustation experience to sample it.
Tip: It’s best to reserve in advance if you’re visiting in a group. We were there on a Tuesday evening and the restaurant was full by 8pm! – ANTHIA CHNG
Go for: Casual, colonial-chic setting
Masons is located within the historic Gillman Barracks, which has become the art hub of Singapore, with lots of interesting galleries to visit; so, if you need a bite before or after your gallery hopping, this place is a good option. Set in a colonial black-and-white bungalow from 1935, the restaurant’s got a lovely outdoor area, where we kicked off our evening with some bubbles. It’s breezy and quiet, and surrounded by trees – a relaxing escape from the city.
While the menu incorporates a variety of cuisines, we were excited to try the Italian specialties, since Masons is part of the same restaurant group as Verve pizza (which means they must know a thing or two about Italian!). For starters, we had the calamari ($16), which was done right – crispy, but not chewy or heavily battered – and a caprese ($18), along with truffle fries ($12), which were lovely.
Moving on to mains, we were interested in trying some of the restaurant’s homemade pastas. We chose the prawn, zucchini and arugula linguini ($24) with fresh chilli, olive oil and garlic, and the Seafood Nero ($28) – squid ink linguini with a selection of seafood. The pasta portions are what an Italian mamma would give her child – huge! – so, come hungry! Still, while both pastas tasted good, we felt they lacked that Italian grandma “magic” – which, admittedly, is really hard to achieve!
There are over a dozen pizzas to choose from, with a range of flavours and cheeses. Among the signature pizzas here are the Clemenza ($26), with goat cheese, sweet balsamic onion chutney, beetroot, red onion, basil and baby spinach leaves, and the Corleone ($26) with Parma ham, arugula and shaved Parmesan.
The must-try: Calamari
Tip: Don’t miss happy hour from 4 to 7pm daily, when you’ll get 50 percent off the price of drinks; we recommend sipping your drink on the patio!
– SUSAN KNUDSEN-PICKLES
Go for: Giant meatballs and awesome views
Perched atop Marina Bay Sands, Lavo serves up Italian-American cuisine with a side of stunning city views. We started with the eggplant Parmigiano ($28) – a heaped helping that definitely didn’t disappoint; in fact, my eggplant parm-obsessed husband even declared it as one of the best he’s ever tasted. The burrata ($31) with red and yellow cherry tomatoes, onion and pesto was also a nice pick from the salad selection. But, while the other starters were hits, the tuna tartare ($32), unfortunately fell short; the yellowfin tuna with avocado and crispy garlic had potential, but the overpowering black olive dressing led the dish astray. However, when The Meatball ($38) hit the table, all was right again. Lavo’s signature starter (or, you can order it as your main, like I did) is a one pound mound of super fresh-tasting ground wagyu and Italian sausage, topped with whipped ricotta that melts into the dish and makes it extra heavenly. Meanwhile, my husband opted for an indulgent truffle gnocchi ($46). There’s also a selection of meat and seafood mains available if you’re not into ordering pasta.
Though the giant “20 Layer” Chocolate Cake ($24) with peanut butter mascarpone is the signature here, it was much too big for two of us to order. Maybe next time! And, don’t forget the drinks: there’s a fun list of cocktails ($25 each) with so many great choices. If, like me, you love rosé, don’t miss ordering the Frozé ($25) – a slushy made with Kettle One vodka, rosé wine and raspberry.
The must-try: The Meatball
Tip: The prices here may be punchy, but at least the portions are enormous – so, definitely go with a group, and an appetite! And, be sure to grab pre- or post-dinner drinks on the outdoor terrace.
– AMY GREENBURG
For more head to our wine and dine section