Food afficandos will probably remember the establishment of fine dining Italian restaurant Michelangelo’s back in 1995. It has been a good 18 years with the food scene in Singapore changing rapidly since then. Perhaps now the idea of dining at Michelangelo’s is beyond that of an exclusive dining establishment but more one worth revisiting for memories and that old charm along Chip Bee Gardens. For a little bit of snazz with open air dining, this is Michelangelo’s – the restaurant with the imprint of traditions and nostalgia in the fine dining Italian restaurant scene.
Start dinner light with a little bitter and savoury sea sweetness with the Warm Calamari Salad ($18). Pieces of tarragon marinated squid with generous portions of bitter crisp arugula tossed in a tangy sweet balsamic dressing make up the appetizer. Arugula might not be for everybody however as its crisp bitterness is uniquely acquired, but when paired with slightly salty flavours, the entire dish is well rounded with earthen sea aromatics.
For something a little meaty with the decadent aromatics of the earth, there is the Carpaccio di Manzo ($22) with finely sliced pieces of tenderloin, topped with arugula, parmesan and glazed with truffle oil. The impact of truffle is faint upon the arrival of the dish, though it subtly brought out a different layer of flavours from the beef. Good.
If common traditionals were to be the choice of the day, order the Caesar Salad with Prawns ($22). The single topping of poached egg makes the entire dish pure delight when one breaks into it, enveloping the romaine lettuce, bacon and prawns with the creamy savoury flavour. The salads definitely got the dinner off to a good start.
When it comes to the mains, my key recommendation is the Tuscan Rosticciana ($34). This full rack of tuscan style pork ribs has its meat tender and not too flaky, retaining a good amount of bite in smooth savoury flavours. The sauce brushed over the ribs makes this an excellent main when contrasted with the rest.
I had a craving for black squid ink pasta, so for my pasta dish I had the Fruitti di Mare ($34) served with linguine in squid ink sauce. And boy do I admit that this is the darkest pasta I’ve seen yet, with a very generous amount of squid ink sauce. A nicely done dish with a good amount of fresh seafood, giving complex sweetness. Still, I longed for the strong alkaline flavour prominent in squid ink that would leave a robust heartiness in the mouth.
The Barramundi ($28) was lacklustre on its own. I thought the portion of fish could be fresher with less of a perceived musky odour. I remember crisp sweet flavours, but this was not it.
The Quarantaotto ($44) is one beef dish that has seen the cooker for at least 48 hours, slowly braised through and through. It was a decent dish that highlighted simple clean cut flavours rather then my perceived impression of a thick collagen rich braising sauce enveloping the meat. The meat could also do with a little more fat as I found it too lean. But then again, maybe this is just one dish that I couldn’t agree with because of some preconceived expectations.
Accompanying mash with that trickle of truffle oil
The Singapore Sling
One sweet favourite to make the dinner a good ending is the Sticky Date Pudding ($12). Rich date an brown sugar make up the cake draped in a slightly aromatic sweet butterscotch sauce. Excellent. Have it when its warm though, to contrast with the chilly ice cream by the side.
The Gelato of Strawberry and Vanilla ($8 per scoop) was a perfect complement to the rest of the dishes. Sometimes, the best desserts are the simple ones.
Ending off the entire dinner with the Creme Brulee ($12) is almost like a classic finish to a traditional dinner. Some might like its gentle sweetness, but in retrospect, I would have preferred a stronger sweeter cream with a more intense charred crisp top.
The visit to Michelangelo’s is at best one place I would visit for the good memories tied to the location and the experience of peaceful alfresco dining off Holland Village. The dishes are generally decent with a few surprises from the salads and desserts, though I thought the mains could step up its ante especially with the range of good restaurants around the area. Go for the desserts in full detail, you might find the sticky date pudding exceptionally delicious. And for the full warm Singapore experience, do remember to sit outside.
Thank you Michelangelo’s for the invitation
Jalan Merah Saga
Chip Bee Gardens
Tel: 6475 9069