La Scala Ristorante scores on Italian authenticity
My first work-related dining-out in phase two of Singapore's reopening was at La Scala Ristorante, which had the misfortune of launching just before the coronavirus outbreak.
It soft-opened last November, but the word of mouth was not kind.
Foodies considered the dishes to be pedestrian and pandering to local tastebuds.
I had meant to head for Northern Italy for a vacation in March before Covid-19 killed those plans, so I ignored the hearsay and turned up for the tasting because the craving for Italian food was real.
And I found the pandemic-imposed hiatus may have been a blessing for La Scala.
The kitchen had time to rework its menu, and has presented an updated, more authentic version of itself.
Or maybe I was just happy to eat something I did not da bao.
Anywhere you go, there are just some things you have to eat when you are visiting another country.
Even things you do not usually like. For me, that's pizza.
Maybe it's in the head, but the ones I had in Italy just tasted better (the crust, the toppings, the sauce).
But there are a few here that match that experience, and now I can add the Pizza 'La Scala' al Tartufo Nero ($48) to the list.
This is aromatic with truffles, with the umami gooey pull of cheese. It is familiar, yet superior to a lot of other pizzas I have tasted.
But the most memorable dish is the Vitello Tonnato ($30), a classic Piemontese dish with veal and a housemade tonnato sauce that provides the magic.
Just when you are enjoying the savoury saltiness of the sauce, you get pleasantly hit by bright notes from the capers.
Another veal dish is also a must-try - the Veal 'Ossobuco' in Gremolata ($52).
The meat is slow braised and served in a housemade gravy, lemon, parsley and garlic. The final touch is buttery grilled polenta which forms the base.
This fills the stomach in a very satisfying way.
A test of an Italian restaurant is the pasta.
And at La Scala, the Mezzi Rigatoni Amatriciana ($26) passes. The tubular pasta, popular in Sicily, is paired with a white wine and tomato sauce, with aged pork cheek and Pecorino on top.
There is also a touch of chilli for some semblance of heat.
The whole experience started off weak for me though.
The bruschetta al Pomodoro ($9) is decent but unremarkable.
You may actually be able to assemble this at home.
I'm mentioning this last because I don't want to start with negativity.
And unless you really love bruschetta, save on the carbs and don't kick off your meal with negativity too.
La Scala Ristorante
Arcade @ The Capitol Kempinski
Opens 11.30am to 2.30pm, 6pm to 9pm