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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

Dependable classics from mamma's cucina

Zafferano is the latest dining destination atop a tower which is a restaurant, bar and lounge.
The Business Times - August 27, 2012
By: Cheah Ui-Hoon
| More
Dependable classics from mamma's cucina Simple but good: Risotto Zafferano ($32) is creamy with goose liver and top notes of saffron, and anchored with a quail leg confit - PHOTO: ZAFFERANO

NEW RESTAURANT

Zafferano
Level 43 Ocean Financial Centre
10 Collyer Quay
Singapore 049315
Tel: 6509 1488

IT'S a hip prerequisite these days to have a restaurant on the top floor or rooftop of a skyscraper in the CBD area - one which takes advantage of the panoramic views of the city and Marina Bay. Zafferano is the latest dining destination atop a tower which is a restaurant, bar and lounge. Gastronomes shouldn't just dismiss it as just a chi-chi place with fancy drinks and a view - it's a worthy draw for fans of simple but good Italian food.

Zaffereno is set up by Food Concepts Group Asia, a regional F&B group. Which explains its slick set-up and wide range of food and drink propositions. Besides the view, the garden-in-the-sky-like setting, and its décor, Zafferano offers interesting dining options for the gastronome.

Three in particular stand out - the antipasti buffet spread for lunch, the 40 by-the-glass wine offer (mostly Italian now but French will be included soon) and the vertical ham tasting. The restaurant treads the simple but authentic path where its cuisine is concerned. It is pure, unadulterated Italian - but in a cucina della mama's style rather than fine dining.

Daily lunch is a set menu, with mains (a selection of eight to 10) sandwiched between buffet spreads of antipasti and dessert ($33++ for now). One can only get an a la carte menu for dinner, and then it's a crowd-pleasing selection as well - from pizzas to steaks. Prices are fairly reasonable at first glance, but this commensurates with the moderate sizing of the portions.

The antipasti spread at the set lunch was the stunner. If you took just one helping from each of the platters, that would fill up your plate. For small eaters, this could even be enough for lunch. The antipasti covered all the Italian classics from cured meats and roasted vegetables to tuna-covered roast beef. No wonder then that the serving for the main dish was actually quite small, but their simplicity made a good impression nonetheless. My seafood pasta was flavourful, made with fresh pasta that was firm to the bite; while my dining companion's veal escalope was tender with a light breading, served atop a potato mousse.

For the dessert buffet, the spread of little cakes won't knock you over, but the real highlight is the small cheese spread. The fresh gorgonzola is beautiful, with a drizzle of honey and whole almonds. Then there was a selection of two to three hard cheeses, including parmigiano reggiano, of course.

Lunch service stops at 2.30pm, but from then on, one can drop in for a glass of wine or two. Dinner service starts from 6pm, with menu selections from Cucina di Mamma (Mum's Kitchen), Terra (Earth), Verde (Greens), Mare (Ocean), Griglia (Grilled Meats), Delicate (Delicatessen favourites) and Dolci (Sweets).

The three tasting hams in the Degustazione di Prosciutto ($45) are Parma ham (24 months), san daniele (32 months) and pata negra bellota (36 months). At 36 months, the ham has a noticeably melt-in-the-mouth texture with a well-rounded salted flavour. The thin-crust pizza is as rustic as you can get, with a thin covering of mozzarella cheese, fresh toppings and chewy dough. Recommendations include Parma ham, tomato quarters and parmesan shavings ($18) or even the Tartufo, drizzled with black truffle oil and young spinach leaves ($24). Both were delicious. Hearty eaters might find they need two pizzas for a full meal though, or just order one as a starter.

The Risotto Zafferano ($32) is again simple but good - creamy with goose liver and top notes of saffron. It's also served with a quail leg confit in the centre. The steak is a bit of a let-down however, as the tenderloin cut (the Filetto, 200 grams for $49) was perhaps cut too thick, so our medium rare order was more like a medium well-cooked beef with a grainy bite.

Head chef Roberto De Franco's masterful interpretation of traditional Italian cuisine impresses, and overall, Zafferano has something for everyone and for all occasions - including Sunday brunch when it's ready to start the service.

Rating: 7/10

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