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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

Italian food served in S'pore style

At Tratorria Gallo D'oro, one can expect homecooked fare with a bit of twist and top-notch execution
The Business Times - May 21, 2012
By: Cheah Ui-Hoon
| More
Italian food served in S'pore style Casonsei alla Bergamasca -- BT IMAGE

Trattoria Gallo D'Oro
#01-03 Central Mall  (7, Magazine Road)
Opening hours: Mondays to Saturdays, noon to 3pm (lunch) and 6.30pm to 11pm (dinner)
6438 8131

ONE can still find a slice of homey, rustic European in Central Mall. In the space where The French Kitchen used to be, Tratorria Gallo D'oro now offers country-style Italian fare.

It seems that Italian chef Carlo Marengoni - after some 17 years of working in fine-dining settings in hotels - has had enough of dividing up platters just so that his customers can share their food but in individual plates.

"I always got requests like that. The dishes were often sent back to the kitchen to be divided into sharing portions. So I've decided to serve Singaporeans in the style they want to eat!" declares the 45-year-old who started his career at Fratini's here, in 1995, and was last at the helm of the now-defunct Ristorante Bologna at Marina Mandarin hotel.

At Trattoria Gallo D'Oro (Golden Rooster), apparently a classic Italian name for cafes, it's all about sharing portions placed at the centre of the table and wholesome, hearty flavours that one would expect from an Italian mama's kitchen.

Chef Marengoni has worked in fine dining ever since he graduated from the San Pellegrino school of cooking, but at this trattoria, he's executing recipes that draw from his Bergamo roots and heritage.

For his first independent restaurant in Singapore, a joint venture with the Bonta Group, one can expect homecooked fare with a bit of twist and top-notch execution.

It's interesting that even though there are so many Italian restaurants in Singapore, chef Marengoni can still deliver unique dishes which seem so simple and tasty and you wonder why they aren't more commonly available.

Such as his whole oven-baked seabass, for example. The whole fish is done in quintessential homecooked style: stuffed with leeks and aromatic herbs such as rosemary and sweet basil, rubbed with salt, topped with lots of sliced garlic and spring onion, and drizzled with oil and then roasted in the oven.

In the Branzino intero al forno ($29), the natural flavours of the whole fish are fully coaxed out and enhanced, though of course the expertise is in getting the balance and roasting time right.

One usually gets the whole fish only in seafood restaurants, while Chinese restaurants tend to either steam or deepfry a whole fish, so this is a refreshing change.

There are a few other dishes that make you think that this chef has been rightly localised after 17 years in Singapore, such as the dumpling-like Casonsei alla Bergamasca ($20), a signature dish of Bergamo.

Like guo tie dumplings but not pan-fried, these half moon-shaped pasta are instead stuffed with minced veal and spinach, along with some cheese, herbs and the like, and then tastefully "christened" with crispy bacon. The stuffing is subtly flavoured, while the ravioli pasta has a firm bite.

We got to savour the homemade pappardelle, cooked with sausage and spinach in the Foiade del Gallo D'Oro ($20). The sausage is just a tad porky, but the fresh pasta had just the right thickness with a firm bite. Plus it wasn't too rich.

Another uncommon dish we tried was the rolled beef with mozzarella, smothered in capers and tomato-based gravy ($28) which surprised with its tender beef. Again, this was a balanced blend of flavours.

These were some of the key creations that impressed us. There are the classic Italian standards, such as the fresh buffalo Burratina cheese ($18) served with rocket leaves, sliced tomatoes and drizzled with first-pressed organic extra virgin olive oil. The silky coat of the cheese gave way to a chewy texture, with a very clean and fresh taste to the cheese.

The roasted chicken with potatoes, olives and shallots (sageollo al forno rustico, $26) is easily Provencal chicken by another name, given the Italian stamp by the generous use of black olives.

We ended our hearty meal with a slice of Torta della Nonna con gelato ($10) - Mr Marengoni's grandmother's custard cake. I had thought to have just one spoonful, but ended up eating it all up. It's about the most perfect custard pie I've had, the almost mousse-like custard not at all like the lumpy, fake-tasting type you always get. Soft pie-like pastry encased the custard beautifully, and the cold vanilla ice-cream was the necessarily decadent touch.

Every Italian city has a cafe called the Golden Rooster, apparently, as it's the name that conjures up wholesome home-style dishes. We've been given a taste of the Italian home kitchen here, but one suspects that chef Marengoni is being modest because his version of home-style cooking belies the touch of a master chef.

Rating: 7/10


    10: The ultimate dining experience
9-9.5: Sublime
8-8.5: Excellent
7-7.5: Good to very good
6-6.5: Promising
5-5.5: Average


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