La Trattoria, Singapore Art Museum

I don’t know how long this has been at the S.A.M., but I recalled countless times when I have walked past, alone or with a friend, and thinking that I will pop in for a meal one day. That one day finally came when I decided to make a dinner reservation to celebrate my friend’s birthday one evening.

Before we visited the restaurant, I looked for some reviews of the place and read some mixed comments. Generally the consensus I felt, was that food was pretty decent but service iffy; it ranged from good to bad, so I guess it boils down to luck and whether you got the right people serving you or not. But since we went in without any expectations of good service, I guess maybe that was already the correct start.

We were really early but there was already a couple of other guests inside. I liked how the interior seemed to be able to cut us off from the outside, at least for me, it’s like the decor of the place was a cosy little outfit that didn’t seemed like it belonged in the heart of town. But of course it wasn’t like I was made oblivious to the noises outside courtesy of the Formula One race happening over the weekend.

Back to the service, there were just a few wait staff, and they were not the extremely friendly kind of wait staff like I would probably expect of restaurants of a cosy nature but they were nonetheless still ok, meaning that they were fairly prompt, which could also be because the restaurant was not too busy yet, and because we had not asked for any recommendations but just went straight to order what we felt like having. I read about a review where the reviewer asked for recommendations and the attending waiter/waitress replied “pasta and pizza”. I almost fainted when I read that, because honestly, what else would you order in an Italian restaurant, and there were numerous choices of pastas/pizzas.

Since it was early and we didn’t think we could stomach that much food, we opted to skip the appetiser and breads, but we were served a complimentary garlic pizza bread that we cleaned off in a matter of minutes. Maybe that explained why we couldn’t finish our mains.

We decided on the Risotto ai Porcini, which I read wasn’t too bad, and since I (or maybe both of us) am quite the mushroom fan. The plating for the risotto was interesting, to put it nicely. But really, we were both amused and thought it made it look a brown mess, so that’s something that can be improved. Thankfully, it tasted great but a tad on the salty side though. There was a distinctive cheese taste to it though, which could also be the reason why I liked it but the saltiness got to me in the end and also because the portion was pretty generous so even sharing it we were unable to finish it.

The other main we picked was a home baked pasta, Cannelloni ripieni di carne e verdure, which is, based on the menu, layered pasta rolled with filling of minced meat, vegetables and parmesan cheese in tomato cream sauce. It looked like a chee cheong fun in disguise, don’t you think? But I liked this dish because the meat wrapped in the pasta felt a little like having ravioli, and it still reminded me of the Chinese dim sum or even wanton. I can’t recall what meat it was, maybe pork, and mixed with strips of greens, ending with a taste that reminded me, yes of dumplings. In a good way. The cheese probably helped too, because since from when I can’t recall, I started having a love for cheese.

Desserts-wise, they had a few typical Italian desserts but we are predictable that way in ordering the tiramisu. It was also quite a big serving of rich creamy goodness that I allowed myself the indulgence even if I am watching how the scales are tipping!

By the end of the dessert we were stuffed to the brim so we finished off with a shot of Limoncello that had me thinking of honey lemon Strepsils, weird much? It was only half past seven when we left and the restaurant was by then having more diners but it wasn’t too difficult getting the attention of one wait staff for the bill because after all, it isn’t that big a place, and sitting on the inside it is not hard to wave and be noticed. We stepped out thinking that it wasn’t so bad like we read, so like I said it is right that we came without too high expectations where service is concerned, so I will consider returning some day but it’s a question when that some day will be because there are still so many other places that we haven’t been to!