Considering the range and quality of Italian restaurants in Singapore, it seems almost foolhardy to enter this saturated stratosphere. But if diner numbers are anything to go by, new entrant Publico Ristorante has placed its bets right, not just with aperitivo hour on its lush riverside perch, but with a handsome main dining hall studded with millennial-pink marble tables and striking custom furniture pieces by New York design firm Avroko. Equally smart-looking servers in polished brogues and sharply tailored ankle-grazing trousers are the very sartorial image of Italian dandies.
Besides subverting expectations of the archetypal hotel restaurant, Publico’s modern interiors belie the menu’s respect for tradition. Under executive chef Marco Turatti’s watchful eye, only top-notch ingredients are allowed to pass. The buffalo mozzarella antipasto, featuring vine-ripened tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, and basil, needs little else to shine. The special for the day, a smoked artichoke and olive pasta, serves up bold flavours that do justice to the current vegetable-forward trend.
Umami-rich dishes come in the form of the Tartufata, a pizza loaded with porcini mushrooms, truffle, and smoked scamorza. The pizza dough, made using flour from a small Italian producer, is fired to a light, chewy crust, thanks in no small part to yeast derived from the fermentation of green apples.
Pizzas and pastas aside, diners can satisfy their primal cravings for Iberico pork chops, lamb cutlets, and hefty fiorentina steaks coming o the grill. Our Bistecca beef steak, cooked medium-rare as requested, arrives with a side of rosemary-roasted potatoes and heirloom tomatoes.
To round up our meal, we call for what the menu claims is “Singapore’s best tiramisu” – a declaration which proves deserving, save for its campy presentation in a ceramic pot. The tiramisu recipe itself is textbook perfection.
The evening ends with the affable manager surprising us with complimentary shots of homemade limoncello. The ice-cold Italian lemon liquor is just what the doctor ordered after our hearty feast.