La Braceria: My Current Favourite Italian Place

La Braceria came up in a search for newish Italian places in town. I’ve since been there a couple of times and the food was excellent. Here’s a combined review of what I’ve eaten there. First, you have to have the antipasti platter with creamy cheese, assorted cured meats and grilled vegetables. The first time, we had a beautiful burratta, which is cow’s milk mozzarella augmented with cream. It was beautiful – rich, creamy and decadent. The grilled vegetables were a stunning counterfoil as they were masterfully cooked – tender, uber yummy (somehow very tasty from vegetable goodness rather than addition of herbs) and charred in the right places. Then the cured meats. They had mortadella, which I’m not super fond of, and parma ham. The parma ham is one of the best I’ve had in Singapore. It’s not over-salted like most parma ham that makes it to our shores. Rather, it was delicately flavoured and very moreish.

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The next time I was there, they hadn’t any burratta, but they made up for it by serving bufala (made from buffalo milk and not augmented with cream – buffalo milk is already much richer than cow’s milk) instead. It was equally yummy. Though less creamy than burratta, it had a pristine, almost grassy flavour. The grilled vegetables were excellent as always and the mushrooms were juicy and succulent like the last time. I was so glad that they had more of the tiny little shrooms this time. And the parma ham? Still as good as ever. They have a great produce supplier!

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On my second visit, they had a special of airflown mussels. Though a small serving for about $20, they were well worth it. The small morsels were plump and juicy and bursting with the sweet flavour of the sea and the white wine it was cooked in. We asked for more bread to mop up the juices even though there was plenty more food coming.

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The next dish, crab linguine ($22), is a firm favourite. The first time I ordered it, I wasn’t sure if it was worth my while because there didn’t seem to be a great deal of crab in it. Sure, the tomato base was buttery and rich, but there was something slightly lacking. The strange thing was that I kept picking at it, and before long, I found that I couldn’t stop eating it! The second time round, they seemed to have fixed the problem and we all had to fight for our portions of crab linguine. Definitely something to order over and over again. What’s lacking in actual crab chunks is made up for in sheer flavour.

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Then came the pizza. It’s decent, but not mind blowing. The magherita pizza was well-received by a discerning 7 year old but I didn’t find anything special about it. (By the way, the Slurpee in the background is from 7 Eleven and not from La Braceria!)

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On visit #2, the pizza crust was still the same – not quite thin enough to be nicely crisp but decent enough. But the topping we chose was nicer. The pizza alla braceria was topped with mozzarella, beef tenderloin and porcini. The beef was yummy as I could just taste the blood on it, too bad it was a touch overcooked. The porcini was perfect, though. It was soft and slightly truffly. Excellent.

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Also on visit #2 was the roast pork special. The rest thought it, well, special. I thought it was well executed but lacking oomph. The meat had bite yet was tender (belly pork, see) and the crackling just about crispy but not light and heavenly.

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On visit #2, we didn’t have space for dessert, mainly because of lack of will. Because on the first visit, the Braceria cheesecake was a little underwhelming. It was a bit like eating a solid block of cream, as if the cream was whipped till light and frozen, but was somehow not freezing cold. I guess it was good execution, but didn’t do anything to me flavour-wise. Save your calories for the antipasti and pasta.

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La Braceria
5 Greendale Avenue
Tel: +65 6465 5918

Peperoni Pizza

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I’d wanted to go to Peperoni for a while and was delighted when Misa wanted to check it out too. We had girly gossip over the most amazing truffle pizza where the truffle was earthy and almost buah keluak-like in flavour. The thin crust was excellent and freshly made, I how loved the flavours of yeast and bread and the crisp-chewy texture of the crust mingled and really made this pizza work. It’s not just the truffle and melted cheese, it’s also the excellent crust that made this pizza. It’s not quite perfect though, because the egg wasn’t runny as it should be. Still, a small defect. I’m going back for more soon!

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It was a pity that the linguine vongole had an off day. The clams weren’t very fresh and it affected the whole dish. Such a waste since this dish is potentially such a winner. I hope they do this better the next time I get there!

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Peperoni Pizza
6 Greenwood Avenue Hillcrest Park
Tel: 6465 6556

Greenwood Oysters Galore

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Hypodermically wanted to eat cheap oysters so we went. By the time the gang assembled at Greenwood Fish Market, they’d been cleaned out of their $1 oysters. No biggie because they offered us the ginormous Baron Point ones at $3 each. Thus our group of seven cleaned out their $3 oysters too.

They came piled high on the plates. Since we’re all on Facebook, we had a field day alternately taking pictures and cam-whoring. Pride of place of course were the two massive platters of massive oysters.

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Just so you can get a handle on how big these suckers were, here’s a picture. J-thing said they were as big as a yeti’s paw. (Like he’s seen one before.)

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Of my three oysters, one was absolutely sublime. It had a clean seafood flavour with the characteristic metallic oyster tang. It slid down my throat like a dream and my only regret was that I was on a budget and I couldn’t have a glass of muscadet to go with it. Nonetheless, there were a few priceless seconds where only discreet slurping was heard at our normally too-loud table. Of course it all ended when we reduced the oysters to this.

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Now for the bit on the downsides.

  1. Service was abysmally slow. We were a loud boisterous group and it took ages before we managed to catch someone’s attention to make our order. Even though we kept flagging down the servers, they weren’t allowed to take orders and were too harried/distracted to get a manager over to take our orders. It had to get down to this: J-thing called the restaurant on his mobile phone to get someone to come over!
  2. Two of my oysters were a bit… ripe. So was one of Cheshirefeline’s. He paused dramatically mid-oyster and very drily said “Uuuhhhh… I think I just had what my oyster last ate before it died…” I had the runs the next day. Yup, you got it right. The one who indiscriminately eats Southeast Asian street food had the runs from eating $3 oysters at Greenwood. Perhaps I didn’t have any alcohol to kill the oyster cooties, but this really shouldn’t happen.
  3. Nowhere on the menu did it say that everyone at the table had to order a main dish to enjoy the $3 oysters. Some of us health freaks only wanted (expensive, mind you) salad and others wanted to share. It’s fair enough if the restaurant was upfront about it, but we only knew when we tried to order. Luckily we were a bunch of yaw gwees and the restaurant |”closed one eye” to let us order one less main. Uh, yeah, fine. Whatever.

Anyhow, Tristella and I shared the fish and chips. It was decent, but not particularly memorable. Good chips, OK fish and too sweet salad dressing. Meh.

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Greenwood Fish Market and Bistro
34 Greenwood Ave Singapore 289236
Tel: 6467 4950