By: Shamus Sillar
47 Neil Road
“It almost feels like you’re in the wonderful old living room of someone’s home.” So said my better half after we’d taken our seats on the second floor of Da Laura’s intimate 60-seat shophouse restaurant on Neil Road.
Owner Laura Forlino (formerly of Forlino at One Fullerton) would be happy to hear it; “I want diners to feel like they’re part of my family,” she says on her website. Hence the space is fitted out with furniture from her childhood home: 50-year-old chairs, a school desk, her grandmother’s hand-sewn lace – it makes for a relaxed and welcoming vibe. Outstanding service courtesy of Laura herself and restaurant manager Daniel Camerini helps too. (Laura’s a sommelier, incidentally, so the list of Italian wines is a winner.)
And the food leaves cookie-cutter Italian restaurants in its wake. Milan-born chef Michele Blasi has Michelin-star pedigree and it shows. He’s particularly adept at taking vegetables to the next level – a whole red onion ($22) sounds daunting as a standalone dish but at Da Laura it becomes a soft, intensely sweet, slow-baked delight ($22). Don’t miss it. The eggplant and Sicilian tomato terrine ($18) is also superb ($18).
A pair of pastas followed – a rustic, meaty ragu ($26) for the missus and cod ravioli ($32) in an intensely green sage and spinach sauce for me ($32); both hit the spot.
Desserts often play second fiddle at Italian restaurants, but Michele is also a pastry chef who trained under Alain Ducasse, so you’d be crazy not to indulge. We shared the Cannoncini “Numero 8”, a plate of wonderfully crispy mini-cannoli, and a world-beating semifreddo with meringue, anise and wild berry sauce. (Both $16. each).
Too many Italian restaurants in Singapore? Maybe. But if there’s more like this one in store, keep ‘’em coming!
Must-try dish: Anything with vegetables or any of the desserts