Aficionados of Italian cuisine will definitely have heard about the sumptuous Italian fare served up at Prego, Fairmont Singapore. With a new menu freshly launched, more of Chef Antonio Facchinetti’s homely Italian gastronomy flavours take centre stage in a play of what is traditionally delectable and the use of choicest ingredients. Definite must haves include the Cotechino (Italian Pork Sausages) and my personal favourite of Paccheri (Maine Lobster Pasta). And if you cannot decide what to have on the menu, the restaurant serves up an extensive a la carte buffet lunch every Sunday. Now that is satisfying!
The almost market place, festive like atmosphere greets every guest.
Chef Antonio is originally from Ponte di Legno (Brescia) in the Lombardy region. His culinary emphasis is clearly seen through his dishes where he talks about quality ingredients and a strong team producing the best plate for each guest, humbly trying to remove himself from the equation. However, his knowledge and passion for the best produce reflect a deeply traditional style of cooking, leaving each dish a delight to savour.
Starting off a meal at Prego is done with a selection of breads and a seasonal dip. For yesterday’s lunch, we were given a sampler of the three dips available for now. My favourite dip is the Caramelized Onion with Ricotta Cheese. The onion sweetness is tender, with a good thick texture for that extra bite. Having that contrast with the savoury, slightly salty ricotta cheese lends a deeper overall flavour and becomes an excellent spread with breadsticks.
The other options include the Tomato with Basil or the Truffle with Ricotta Cheese. The tomato dip is naturally a clear favourite for many because of its robust, umami flavour. The Truffle dip, while carrying the complexities and light aromatics of that premium ingredient, stands a little lacklustre when paired with the stronger cheese. Although I do admit it is still good in its own right.
Bread for the dipping!
Out comes the wine trolley!
I was clearly in the mood for something light and perhaps a little sweet. The first wine served up was a Donnhoff Riesling 2011, which is not too dry and clearly sweet, slightly floral and easy to drink. It goes very well with the dishes, lending further notes of lightness that erases any sense of long lasting deep flavours.
While I am not necessarily always the best gourmand for salads, the appetiser of Insalata Mista ($19) stood well on its own. The choice of mixed greens, radicchio, fennel, red onion and lemon dressing presents a clean and simple combination, with no overt heaviness from either ingredient. Although I would generally prefer a more robust and combined presentation and taste, this appetiser made its opening as a simple, yet elegant execution. Good.
The table raved when everyone tried their portion of Cotechino ($23). Freshly made Italian sausages is served up with a good spread of roasted organic sweet pepper sauce. The sausage, crumbly, moist, with a flavour that slightly resembles luncheon meat, is simply one of those dishes you would call comfort food. Pair that smoky saltiness with a crisp freshness from the capsicum sauce and what you get is a harmony of flavours that balance well.
The portion of Stracciatella di Bufala ($26) is another of dishes that was prepared so simply, that its ingredients were the main focus here. Marinated king prawn is placed gingerly atop a serving of buffalo stracciatella. The cheese was smooth, luxurious, with a wholesome stringy texture throughout. The topping of zesty tomato, oregano and spring onion lend light herbed touches. Sea sweet, savoury prawn with milky, textured cheese, this was sheer bliss.
Seafood seems to be on a roll for me and I found the Paccheri ($42) to be a delightful seafood pasta creation. Essence of maine lobster is deeply assimilated into the tomato base sauce, combining neatly into the folds of umami and sea sweetness. What you then get is a flavour that is close enough to a reduced yet lighter lobster bisque. Pair that in with the folds of paccheri pasta, and relinquish all holds that bar any semblance of a deeply satisfying meal. Comforting, with flavours that leave a spring and warmth in each step.
The Bucatini ($36) was another favourite around the table. Calamari, bread crumbs, chilli, black anchovy and fennel is stir fried with the bucatini pasta. Its savoury salty fragrance is impeccably delightful, matched equally with textures from the crumbs and springy bits fro the calamari. I thought this was however a little too oily for my own liking. Paccheri for me any day!
Truffle Risotto is always a classic when served up. The delicate fumes of truffle is wonderously interweaved within the creamy rice grains, nicely touched up with the earthy flavour from the yolk and mushrooms combined. Hearty, and very filling.
I was particularly intrigued by this serving of Medici Ermete Reggiano Lambrusco Dolce. This sparkling red wine is a nice match with any meats, and it is the fizz that refreshes the palate before the next bite. A newfound discovery, and a very enjoyable drink for that dinner party.
The dancing pizza tossing chef amazed us with his skills before the next dish was served.
The Stinco d’ Agnello ($38) is one serve that is both richly flavoured and a crowd pleaser if any. Braised for at least 8 hours in a vegetable stock, the meat falls off the bone easily. Indulge in the thin layers of lamb fat strewn throughout, and enjoy the thickness of the stew that hint of a good use of carrots, celery, fennel and potatoes. Good to share, and I will call for some bread to match with its savoury and slightly salty sauce. I particularly enjoyed the slight gameness in meat, but that is purely a personal preference.
For those who look forward to a dish from the sea, consider the Merluzzo ($42). This baked cod classic is served with artichoke, pomodorini, kalamata olive and a excellent serve of mashed potato. Notable bits are definitely the crispy skin, and I must mention again the mashed potato. It just carries a deep buttery flavour that almost mimics a touch of cheese infusion. Be forewarned about the pomodorini (tomato), my white shirt was a victim of its juices.
The dessert of Zabaglione ($14) was a perfect end to the entire meal. Lightly prepared with berries and port wine sabayon, the flavours are berry sweet with the occasional textural crunch, all encased in airy serve of light custard. Fantastic.
Jasmine tea to end the day
Myself and Chef Antonio
Prego is definitely one of Singapore best Italian restaurants. The lunch time crowd during the weekdays can certainly attest to that with robust clatters and conversations going smoothly over the meal. Its dishes are traditional, generously portioned, making it easy to share with friends and family. Meals are made family friendly at this trattoria, and there is something for everybody on the menu. For those who are looking for a good, hearty Italian meal to dine with friends, Prego is one of those places to think about when you are in the city. If you can’t decide what to have, go for their Sunday buffet lunch with a few friends and try the assortment available. Maybe you’ll pick up a few favourites that might just keep you enchanted.
Thank you Fairmont Singapore for the invitation.
80 Bras Basah Road
Reservations: 6431 6156Opens from: