Solo Ristorante: As close as it gets to dining in Italy
Italy remains one of the most loved foodie destinations.
Travel restrictions may prevent us from actually being there, but luckily, we have options such as Solo Ristorante.
It opened here in 2018, but in March, it acquired a new chef/ partner, Mr Simone Fraternali.
His love for cooking started at the age of four, assisting his nonna (Italian for grandmother) in the kitchen.
That led to culinary school and a stint at three-Michelin-starred restaurant Da Vittorio Relais & Chateaux in Lombardy.
The 34-year-old ended up in Singapore leading the pre-opening team for Aura at National Gallery and ilLido at the Cliff.
Before he joined Solo, he was head chef at SO Sofitel Singapore.
The interiors of Solo evoke a homely, intimate Italy. The dining hall is dim, and the restaurant is filled with noise from the open kitchen.
It is perversely thrilling to see the kitchen pulsate with activity, if only to provide you a relaxing meal.
When in Italy, you eat pasta. You just cannot skip that. And at Solo, you should do the same.
My favourite is the Pappardelle ($30), with a divine slow braised pork ragout, herbs and Marsala wine.
This sturdy pasta is the perfect foil to the dense, full-flavoured sauce.
It is delightful and delicious but can be a lot on the stomach.
For me, gnocchi is usually a miss. But it is a personal preference and not the restaurant's doing.
Solo's version ($30) comes with an Angus beef ragout "alla Bolognese" with rosemary and red wine.
The pillowy texture is loved by many, but it does nothing for me because I like a firm bite.
But I appreciate a good sauce, and that ragout needs to be on everything.
There is an option for the many fans of uni (sea urchin) - the Tagliolini ($45) is a good mix of firm pasta with a rich uni sauce.
The vegetarian option of Melanzana alla Parmigiana ($18) is not just a visual treat, but offers an explosion of colours and flavours.
The mains are excellent too.
The Polipo ($38) is simple but effective. It is octopus braised and grilled with tenderness and flavour, accompanied by olives to add a touch of saltiness.
I was also taken by the Faraona ($36), a breast of guinea fowl cooked sous vide, with an olive oil confit leg, tied together with oven-baked banana shallot.
The plate has a lot going on, and it is not the prettiest of dishes - but it all comes together to offer a variety of flavours and textures.
I am not a fan of sweet food, but the subtle sweetness of the banana shallot won me over.
If you miss eating in Italy, Solo Ristorante is as close as you can get.
For a few hours, just pretend you are there. You may also be fighting the temptation to say "ciao bella" to everyone as you leave the restaurant.
45 Amoy Street, Tel: 6260-0762
Opens Tuesday to Saturday, noon to 2.30pm;
Tuesday to Sunday, 6.30pm to 10pm