Etna Italian Restaurant, an evergreen on the Italian restaurant scene, delivers traditional Italian cuisine with modern twists
With its lively paintings and wood-accented white-washed walls, you feel that you’re on a sun-kissed vacation in the Mediterranean and have just stumbled on a gem of a restaurant on the Sicilian coast. But this is Etna Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria, one of the stalwarts in Singapore’s dining scene, and they are celebrating their 10th anniversary this year.
Gianluca Impemba and his partner, group executive chef Anna Borrasi (pictured) started it as a humble trattoria in Lau Pa Sat in 2007. Etna has since blossomed into two upmarket outlets at Duxton Road and Upper East Coast Road. The restaurant is named after Mount Etna, a volcano in Sicily and the area around it known for luscious produce like premium pistachios, citrus fruits, tomatoes, seafood and wine. Its name is also a convenient acronym for ‘Every Table Needs Attention’, a mantra they have always held themselves to.
Says Impemba, “These ten years have been about bringing the best Italian produce to our diners. We started off with a regional emphasis on Sicilian food because we thought Singapore was lacking in Italian restaurants with a Sicilian touch and we were well connected with farmers and producers in the Etna Valley. Over the years, we have broadened our repertoire because there are just so many different produce and styles of cooking in Italy. We don’t want to restrict ourselves; we are constantly improving and bringing new and exciting dishes to our guests.”
About 80 per cent of their ingredients at Etna are sourced from Italy, presented through a wide range of Italian cuisines and myriad techniques. Says chef Borrasi, “When we first started, there weren’t many Italian ingredients readily available in Singapore. But we brought in and used authentic ingredients such as Bronte pistachios from Sicily, an ingredient that has formed the basis for signature dishes such as our classic tiramisu with Bronte pistachio paste.”
Innovation a Daily Affair
The secret of their longevity lies in their ability to maintain tradition, yet innovate. Some of their signature dishes that have delighted customers throughout the years are linguine al granchio ($28), or linguine with fresh flower crab in crabmeat sauce; ciriole alla Norcina ($28), homemade semolina pasta with mushrooms, sausage and truffle pasta; ravioli all’ Aragosta ($36), homemade lobster ravioli with butter pistachio cream and prawns; and filetto di maiale al Marsala ($34), or glazed pork tenderloin with Marsala sauce, roasted tomatoes and gremolata. Every week, chef Borrasi challenges herself to come up with chef’s specials showcasing lesser-known ingredients like kamut wheat flour or hemp seeds, and dishes marrying regional flavours, like purple cavatelli (Neapolitan gnocchi) with fontina cheese from North Italy and leek, a fusion of Northern and Southern Italian flavours. She says the beauty of different regions, seasons and her passion for ingredients inspire her to come up with creative dishes.
Mark of Recognition
Accolades are aplenty for this longstanding restaurant. It is one out of about 40 Italian restaurants in Singapore awarded the Ospitalità Italiana Award. This recognition is given by the Italian government, and certifies its authenticity, quality and service standards, according to strict criteria, such as having a menu that mostly include dishes and recipes of the Italian tradition, and a wine list with at least 20 per cent DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) Italian wines.
They also received the Best of Singapore Service Star Excellence Award by the Singapore Tourism Board in 2009, and was awarded one star in our very own Singapore’s Top Restaurants guide 2017/2018. But the award they prize the most is the two temples (or stars) they were given in 2016 and 2017 by the Accademia Italiana della Cucina, a cultural institution which safeguards Italian culinary traditions. Tasted and evaluated by connoisseurs of Italian cuisine, the award rewards authenticity and creativity.
49/50 Duxton Road, Tel: 6220 5513
This post is brought to you in partnership with Etna Italian Restaurant. For more information, please visit Etna’s website or Facebook page.
This was first published in Wine & Dine’s August 2017 issue – Love Singapore