Available in every nook and cranny of our little island, from big malls to little coffee shops, Italian food is probably one of the more accessible European cuisines available in Singapore.
So how do we choose the places that offer something different and stand out from the rest? It depends on the type of price range and style of cooking that you are looking for. Personally, I have a wide range of places I like to go to for specific dishes or a certain style of cooking. However, my all time favourite is always one that offers a slightly rustic kind of home-style cooking that is both comforting yet surprising because of the varied recipes that are handed down by great, great grandmothers.
There aren’t many places in Singapore that offer an authentic experience like that with pocket friendly prices, and if they do, it’s usually in a small and intimate setting bordering on a pricier side. And then comes Bottura, the brainchild of fifth generation Luca Bottura who hails from Bologna. Earlier this year, the Italian decided to bring his family’s style of traditional food that he tasted growing up to Singapore. Bottura is located in an expansive space within a mall (Suntec City, to be precise). If you think that the space with its modern decor cannot offer age-old recipes that are cooked with love, get ready to be surprised. At the heart of the kitchen, with all its shiny customised equipment, you can find Luca’s mother, who ensures that everything is cooked to perfection - at least the Bottura way, that is!
All of the dry ingredients used in the making of fresh pastas, breads, and pastries, right down to customised kitchen equipment have been imported from Italy, mainly from Luca’s hometown of Bologna. By directly importing the ingredients, Bottura ensures the highest quality with their freshly made pastas, pizzas and even gelato (You can see the staff members making the gelato on-site through their open kitchen concept).
Apart from the stunning kitchen, my eyes were immediately drawn to the selection of oils, vinegars and wines that are available for sale and exclusive to Bottura. As a wannabe cook who also loves well-packaged ingredients, I knew I had to revisit that section, but more on that later.
For starters we had their star dishes, the Arancini al Ragu as well as the Cold Cuts and Cheese Platter. From the moment the plate was set down in front of me, I can see why the Arancini came highly recommended. My problem with many versions of this dish is that the risotto tends to be overcooked hence losing its texture. The ones at Bottura, on the other hand, have managed to keep the consistency of the risotto, which to me is a plus point.
I always enjoy ordering cold cuts because I like trying the specific produce a restaurant picks which I think gives an insight to their flavours. This dish, suffice to say, did not disappoint. Luca also kindly opened a bottle of rodi Vino balsamic vinegar for us to taste and pair with the bread. Uh, can I just say that I was blown away? I mean, not only was this beautifully packaged but this vinegar, that has undertones of honey, is possibly my new favourite. A must-buy when you visit the restaurant.
I'm definitely going back for more.
With our stomachs nearly full, we trudged on to try their pizzas, where we chose a Magherita (a must when it’s your first time at any Italian restaurant) and one of Luca’s new innovations, a prosciutto and melon pizza. The Margherita was a classic but the prosciutto and melon pizza was definitely a killer. With the warm thin crust complementing the sweet and juicy melon and salty ham, the juxtaposition of flavours leaves you slightly confused at first and then gets you wanting more. It is sort of like a good Tinder date I would say, you don’t really expect much because of the strange circumstances but then you start making plans for a second date halfway through the first!
I realise whenever I write about restaurants that I enjoy, I tend to ramble on so much and write essays about them. It’s really hard to be conclusive when you have so much to say about a place and what they have to offer.
As someone who always chooses her grandma’s cooking over any kind of food, I admire Luca’s efforts in bringing the food he grew up with to Singapore and to make it available for Singaporeans from all walks of life. His efforts are reminiscent of young generation hawkers who believe in their family’s recipes and fine-tuning them so as to share these a part of themselves with the rest of us.
This is why I am a fan of Bottura. The painstaking effort to ensure the taste and quality of food still matches the matriarchal standards is laudible. It’s not easy to please the Singapore palate, but I wish Bottura all the best in converting the mass into enjoying true blue authentic Italian food.
BOTTURA IS LOCATED AT SUNTEC CITY MALL TOWER 1 #02-472/473/474