Mandarin Oriental Hotel
65 6885 3551
Hot ciabatta arrives with olive oil, tapenade and a sweet, rich olivetti tomato dip, then an amuse-bouche of three cold meats: succulent salami, Parma ham and bresaolo, cut fresh from the motherlode on the nearby buffet and served with crostini.
I love the starter of yellow-fin tuna in a jacket of Tasmanian pepper with avocado tartar ($26), lifted by the merest drizzle of intense citrus marinade. The pumpkin ravioli with scallops and crispy Italian bacon that follows is tasty, but the ravioli itself is a bit dry at the edges and its delicacy somewhat swamped by sauce.
Rack of lamb ($44) is my favourite dish, and these herby, deep pink, flavourful morsels served with thyme polenta and a green bean gateau do not disappoint.
The dessert – crusted Tahitian vanilla sorbet with white star-anise-flavoured oranges ($14) – is beautiful. Flash-grilled, its warm top layer becomes steadily colder as you dig deeper, and it’s light enough not to make you feel you’ve been greedy.
The friendly, knowledgeable staff members provide faultless service. With its classy yet informal décor, soft lighting and floor-to-ceiling glass onto an alfresco dining area and the pool, La Dolce Vita is a good choice for a special occasion.
Try the degustation menu: three courses ($68) or six courses ($128), or the three-course business set lunch at $48. The wine list is upmarket with prices to match, and there is a decent selection of wines by the glass starting at $20.