pasta

Photo: Chicco Pasta Bar

Rigatoni, fettuccine, penne, and linguine — pasta, in its multi-varied shapes, sizes, and forms, is wonderful. It is a versatile canvas for Italian nonnas to showcase treasured sauce recipes that have been handed down for generations and anchored with the best seasonal, often hyper-local produce.

Pasta’s flexibility also means that it serves equally well in an unfussy neighbourhood trattoria and fine-dining establishment — with the right complements to elevate it. These can range from hearty meats and the day’s catch to the earthy, decadent bounty of winter truffles. Read on for five luxurious pasta joints in Singapore and where to find them.

1. Chicco Pasta Bar

pasta
Photo: Chicco Pasta Bar

Chicco Pasta Bar is the latest concept to spring from the mind of Australian-Italian chef Drew Nocente. Think of it as a casual, pasta-focused (if the name wasn’t enough of a clue) sister concept to his flagship Cenzo, also operating in the Telok Ayer area. 

The restaurant seats 38 in a charmingly decorated blue and white dining room facing an open show kitchen. Its name, Chicco, means grain in Italian — the fundamental building block of fresh pasta, the star of the show at the eatery.

There will be seven varieties of handcrafted pasta, made fresh from scratch daily in a variety of familiar shapes and paired with sauces both full-bodied and flavourful, along with sharing platters laden with meatballs, roasted vegetables, cold cuts, and grilled meats. 

Try the fusilli with a traditional mushroom ragu sauce uplifted by spicy nduja sausage, or the conchiglie, a vegetarian-friendly medley of conch-shaped pasta paired with creamy Stracciatella, basi,l and a hearty tomato sauce. There’s also a rigatoni inspired by the classic Amatriciana, here made with pan-fried chorizo instead of the traditional guanciale and complemented with a punchy cherry tomato sauce.

Find out more here.

2. Bottega Di Carna

While flame-grilled steaks and unconventional cuts like cow’s knees and picanha take centre stage at acclaimed master butcher Dario Cecchini’s outpost in Mondrian Singapore Duxton, Bottega Di Carna, the meat temple also delivers an intriguing pasta programme that hearkens to the chef’s Tuscan heritage.

These range from meat-heavy pasta like the pici; think of it as spaghetti, but fatter, tossed with Francesina braised beef, pecorino cheese, and chilli oil, and the braised beef cheek macaroni uplifted with parmesan and a hit of earthy black truffle, to an indulgent linguine topped off with a whole lobster and confit tomatoes. 

If you’re looking for something a little less carnivorous, there’s also ravioli parcels stuffed with a classic combination of pumpkin, sage, and Cacioricotta cheese, along with a green lasagna brimming with layers of kale, truffle, and Taleggio cheese.

Find out more here.

3. Capasso

Colombian chef Fernando Arevalo pays homage to his Italian heritage (through his late paternal grandfather, who hailed from Salerno in southwestern Italy) with his restaurant Capasso, which features a bevvy of pasta dishes alongside other plates inspired by his own Colombian roots, like Iberico pork chop paired with a spicy mango compote and purple sweet potato.

But back to the pasta: There’s a tagliatelle dressed in a hearty Angus beef ragu with a heap of shaved parm; a seafood-centric chitarra (meaning guitar in Italian, referring to the square-edged pasta’s resemblance to guitar strings) paired with a tangy San Marzano tomato sauce, mascarpone, and blue swimmer crab; and delicate ravioli enveloping shredded duck leg confit and a four-cheese fondue, paired with a sunchoke sauce and finished with crisp fried pork skin.

Find out more here.

4. Fico

pasta
Photo: Fico

Pugliese chef Miko Febrille is well-acquainted with the democratising power of pasta, having fronted a hit handmade pasta hawker pop-up in Chinatown Complex after leaving his post as chef de cuisine at one-Michelin-starred Braci last year. 

That’s probably part of the reason why a live pasta bar is the dining room centrepiece of his new eatery Fico, which opened last May in a breezy corner of East Coast Park with a focus on old-school Italian conviviality.

Apart from a medley of pasta plates like the Denti Del Drago (Italian for “dragon’s teeth” in reference to its rough, jagged edges) draped in white ragu and a classic linguine a la vongole, don’t miss out on the carby goodness that is the restaurant’s signature focaccina, a crisp, airy lovechild of focaccia and pizza.

Find out more here.

5. Matera

Traditional Italian flavours meet Asian influences at Matera, the fine-dining outfit opened last June by chef Bjoern Alexander, former executive chef of two-Michelin-starred Octavium in Hong Kong and an alumnus of three-star The French Laundry in California before that.

Combinations available in the restaurant’s tasting menu format — which ranges from three to a full eight courses for dinner — include ravioli made from dumpling skins cradling sweet red prawns; a hearty gnocchi, buried under tender beef tendons, parmesan, and shavings of black truffle; and an indulgent spaghettini laden with tomato, shellfish, and a heaping crown of uni.

Gastronomic delights can also be found outside of the restaurant’s pasta offerings in the form of an ode to the prized Carabinero prawn, served whole after a brief cold smoke in lychee wood alongside a crispy Hong Kong-style XO prawn toast.

Find out more here.