Ciao@: Food inspired by chef's mum
Restaurants are opening almost weekly and you need an angle to stay in front.
At Ciao@ (the "at" is pronounced), home is where the angle is.
Executive chef and owner Domenico Cicconi says eating at Ciao@ is like eating at his home.
He doesn't care what you wear, he just wants you to be comfortable and fed.
His servers - one of them is his daughter - are also friendly and chatty.
His recipes reflect a homey feel too.
Many dishes on the menu come from his mother. In fact, his lunch specials are inspired by what she is cooking that day.
He must have had an excellent time growing up because many of the dishes are delicious.
The linguine dish Sughe D'marge ($23) is a recipe from the chef's mother. I love the roundness of the flavours - a perfect blend of tuna, anchovies, olives and tomatoes. The sauce was watery when I returned unannounced but the flavours were there.
The bistecca di polipo ($32, grilled octopus) is another winner. The spinach needed some seasoning when I returned but the octopus was just as amazing.
Unique to Ciao@ is the Pizzawich ($15), basically two pieces of pizza dough with a filling in between. I love the burrata and parma ham version because it combined crispy (the dough), creamy (the cheese) and salty (the ham).
A popular pizza here is the Tartufina ($24), with mozzarella and truffle paste. It smells amazing but the truffle didn't overwhelm.
The fritto del piceno ($16) is a bunch of items (cheeses, vegetables and meats) from the Marche region, deep-fried. I tasted more batter than ingredients, so I'd skip this. There are better dishes on the menu.
WHERE 8, Haji Lane
WHEN Tuesday to Sunday, 11am-1am