|Don Antonio Pizza Bar, Italian Restaurant, Kampong Glam, Singapore|
Don Antonio Pizza Bar
“simple authentic Italian flavours”
A feeling of comfort and good humour encompasses us as we enter Don Antonio Pizza Bar. Faces are friendly. Smiles are wide. Service is prompt. The interior is unpretentious and the food wholesome. Although far from Europe, we get the impression that we could be in the very hospitable south of Italy.
|Don Antonio Pizza Bar|
White walls are dotted with framed photographs of Chef Antonio Cocozza’s home village, Torraca, four hours from Naples. Others pictures are taken by the chef’s sister-in-law, showcasing some of the core ingredients of Italian cooking. A simple cement floor holds seating for about 30 and modern Latin themed tunes hum softly from the speakers.
It’s a family affair, just as many reputable Italian restaurants often are. Chef Antonio helms the kitchen, and wife Germaine charms guests on the floor. Only a few months old, this friendly Italian establishment is already esteemed for remembering guests’ names, knowing favourite dishes, and recognizing individual preferences. A spirit of community and kinship impregnates the air.
Chef Antonio has a worldly 25 years of experience in some very well reputed restaurants around the globe. His philosophy here though, is of “home cooking,” “food from the heart.” It’s honest, wholesome cuisine, no fuss.
Wine by the glass is refreshingly well priced for Singapore. Hubby orders the Lazio Seiano Bianco ($10), which has the crispness of a typical sauvignon blanc and a light fruity aroma. The Chianti Classico ($15) is a comforting favourite from Toscana. Brandishing floral aromas, dry in the mouth and soft tannins, it’s my drop of the day.
|Lazio Seiano Blanco|
Insalata di Spinaci ($14) has us off to a healthy start with baby spinach, walnuts, shaved Parmesan, halved cherry tomatoes and a basil oil dressing. It seems as though each individual leaf has been checked for flaws and only the exemplary make it on the plate. It’s a prime model of what makes Italian cuisine so likeable – use of high quality ingredients, simply combined, allowing each item to contribute its unique flavour and texture to the dish. The Italian white goes well with this salad, the light bitterness of the nuts matching the acidity of the wine.
|Insalata di Spinaci|
Silky layers of aubergine are alternated with a tomato sauce, mozzarella and fresh basil in the Eggplant Parmigiana ($16). A ceramic pot holds the piping hot dish and as I lift my fork the stringy cheese resists, forming a bridge from plate to cutlery. It’s rich and seems to work Italian magic in filling both the mouth and the soul. The sides are lightly caramelized and worth scraping up to relish the crisper edges. My Chianti is a great match.
One of chef Antonio’s specialties is white cream based pizza. It’s not just the sauce, but the crust too that is something not so common. Using a combination of three Napolitan flours, and a reduced amount of yeast, the dough is let develop for 24 hours before use. The result is something to bite into with more texture than the usual crispy base. It’s lighter on the stomach too. We don’t get the heavy feel that is oft felt after consuming pizza.
Pizza Porchetta ($24) sounds gloriously decadent with roasted pork, cream, Provola cheese and salsa verde. The pork has been slow roasted and gives a special oomph to the flavour profile. Cream leaves a lovely smoothness in the mouth and the green sauce a little taste of garden. All in all, it’s an intensely satisfying choice.
Potato dumplings with Porcini cream, white truffle oil, rocket and shaved Parmesan compose the Truffle Gnocchi ($24). Exceptionally well cooked, these little balls are of model delightful texture. Dense and cushiony, they’re evenly baked all the way through. The sauce is creamy but the rocket slices through it with a mild bitterness.
Rigatoni Salsiccia ($24) gives prominence to spicy Italian pork sausages, with cream, thyme and Parmesan cheese lubricating and seasoning the dish. The thyme imparts a wonderful fragrance, and the minced meat leaves its distinctive porkiness with a hint of liquorice imparted from fennel seeds in the mouth. There’s just enough sauce, to leave a dribble on the plate, but not wasted preventing the tubes from swimming around in excess. The spice is mild and only imparts a gentle zip, so if you’re not able to take a lot of kick, don’t be disturbed by the description of “spicy.”
The portions are generous. A meal here will leave your hunger happily assuaged.
Even with tummies full from the mighty servings, a pocket of space should be saved for Chef’s Tiramisu. It’s a signature dish he has carried with him over the years and now comes to prime place on the dessert menu at Don Antonio’s Pizza Bar. Again allotments are large, and this rich, moist indulgence can easily be shared. Kahlua soaked savoiardi biscuits (and yes the alcohol is much more than a drop), mascarpone whipped with cream, shavings of dark chocolate, and a drizzling of yellow zabaione sauce, has hubby with eyebrows raised and declaring, “Tremendo finale! Very good.”
As if we didn’t already have reason enough to return, Chef teases us with the news that in the next few weeks he will launch a Limoncello Tiramisu! Don Antonio’s has a firm place in our little black book of ‘must eats’ in Singapore and we think you should visit too.
Reasons to visit: hearty Italian fare; reasonable prices and generous portions; everything we tried we’d order again; don’t miss Chef Antonio’s Tiramisu!
Don Antonio Pizza Bar
2 Jalan Klapa
+65 6293 6548
+65 9227 1890
Open Tuesday – Sunday
12pm – 2:30pm
6:30pm – 10:30pm
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