Why would you need to go all the way to Italy to relish authentic and traditional Italian specialities, when inITALY brings the best from Italian kitchens to you?
By Lester J Wan
The first thing you might notice when you enter inITALY Bar Ristorante is the mural sketches on various parts of the walls. These sketches of olive trees and such, by the chef’s wife, conjure up the impression that you are truly dining in a restaurant in Italy.
InITALY is an expression of Chef Mario Caramella’s personality and culinary tastes. Prior to this, most recently, Chef Mario was Chef Patron of the award-winning restaurant, Forlino. InITALY’s menu is a showcase of the classic cucina Italiana, or Italian kitchen, with Chef Mario’s personal touch.
A great start
Our day was already made perfect when we started our authentic Italian gastronomic experience with a bowl of Raspadura ($7) – finely-shaven Lodigiano cheese flakes. The slices are shaven so thinly, the cheese almost melts in your mouth.
It was already a promising start, with one good thing after another. The Gnocco Fritto (Italian beer bread) with Salsa Verde (both at no cost) freshly made with herbs, lemon juice and olive oil, was both chewy and crispy at the right parts and whet our appetite for more good things to come.
This pleasing snack was followed by Cous Cous alla Trapanese ($26), a tasty cous cous salad with raw Sicilian tuna and citrus vinaigrette. To call it a cous cous salad doesn’t do it justice. The flavours were nothing short of ambrosial and sent us on the way to Italian heaven, though we had just started.
This is my second favourite dish of the day. Though other dishes had been served, like a husband returning home to his wife, I kept going back to it. Perhaps that’s why cooking is so important to Italian families.
Traditional Classics & New Takes
Fresh from the oven came the classic-looking Crostino ($20), of thin focaccia with melted Taleggio cheese, prosciutto, black olives and radicchio tardive (a European herb vegetable). The prosciutto (cured Parma ham) is also finely shaven. Each bite has just the right dose of flavour.
If each dish was an ever-higher level of heaven attained, the Crispy Duck with Pistachio Sauce ($38, off-the-menu special)must have been the crescendo, or seventh heaven. The pistachio sauce, pumpkins and raisins perfectly complemented the tender duck confit.
This is not on the menu, so be sure to ask for it. With all the rave reviews Chef Mario has been getting for this dish, including from us, he is fairly convinced that he will have it on the menu in the next change.
For a Grand Feast
The Gran Bollito ($28) was another interesting and flavourful dish that is traditional mixed boiled beef, veal, pork, chicken, veal tongue and vegetables. This dish was historically served for Italian royalty and reserved for special occasions.
Chef Mario’s modern take on this scales it down to individual portions, and it is served with a selection of parsley sauce, sweet and sour tomato sauce, chutney and horseradish.
If this is still not enough for you and your party, you can order the Beef Fiorentina that comes in a portion for four to five people ($258). This imposing signature dish consists of oven-roasted 1.5kg of select Porterhouse Rangers Valley Angus Beef with sautéed porcini mushrooms, peperonata, crushed potatoes and rucola salad. This grand dish will make it a feast fit for a king.
Wines from Piemonte
“Italian food goes with Italian wine, not water,” stresses Chef Mario.
To that end, Chef Mario presents his own ‘Caramella Selection’ range of wines, to perfectly pair with his cuisine. Each wine hails from the private harvest of boutique wine growers in Piemonte, Italy, and is personally tasted and selected by Chef Mario before being bottled.
Chef Mario’s initial portfolio encompasses five quintessential Piemontese wines: Barolo, Barbaresco, Nebbiolo d’Alba, Dolcetto d’Alba and a Moscato d’Asti.
I was particularly happy with my glass of Moscato d’Asti 2011 D.O.C ($12 per glass, $68 per bottle), which is sweet and aromatic, with great balance. This one was a lovely wine with wonderful harmony, good to be enjoyed at any time of the day.
inITALY Bar Ristorante, 38 Craig Road, Singapore 089676, Tel: 6423 0918, E-mail: email@example.com