With an understated name like Pasta Bar, this Italian restaurant evokes images of rustic family meals.
True enough, enter Pasta Bar on Keong Saik Road and glowing candles set against red brick walls emanate warmth like that from a home kitchen. Inch a little closer and you get to the heart of the action in the restaurant, an 18-seater open kitchen bar-counter. Here, chef Alessandro Giustetti uses family recipes and his knowledge of Italian regional cuisines to make 11 different pastas by hand, a chef’s daily lasagne, and a short selection of other dishes.
Chef Alessandro hails from Genova (Genoa) in Liguria, Northwest Italy, and has been in Singapore since 2014, working in restaurants such as Garibaldi. He says he is “passionate about cooking the different types of pasta in the way they were each originally intended”. Rather than making you feel full and stodgy, handmade pastas done right are wholesome, light and good for your diet. To prove it, his dinner menu heroes pastas made with a varying combination of semolina and OO flours, whole egg, egg yolks and water.
Start your evening here with antipasti such as burrata with pesto ‘Genovese’ ($38 for two to share), featuring burrata from Puglia and chef Alessandro’s version of Genovese-style pesto typically made with ingredients such as basil, pine nuts, Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino. Follow that up with the tender arrosticini or lamb on skewers ($19) served with rosemary infused olive oil, a popular dish originating from Italy’s Abruzzo region. Otherwise go for the veal tongue with pickled vegetables and salsa verde ($24). The off-cut dish may be considered a poor man’s meat, but it’s certainly one that’s rich in flavour.
Palates teased, it’s time to dive into the handmade pastas made with chef Alessandro’s family recipes. The lagane with chickpea, chili and spicy garlic ($28), for instance, has an unmistakable rustic charm with its earthy notes and sticky, staccato texture. Thought to be the father of pastas and a predecessor of the ubiquitous lasagne, the eggless lagane is typically eaten in Southern Italian regions such as Calabria where it is served with locally-grown chickpeas.
Alternatively, for something more familiar, there’s the pappardelle with rabbit ragu, olive and pine nut ($30), where silky smooth sheets of pasta are accompanied by a fine strings of flavourful rabbit ragu; or the morsels of plump, delicate tortelli with pumpkin and sage ($26) that end on a sweetish note. Aside from pastas, secondi protein courses such as pork rib terrine ($32) and veal with prosciutto and sage ($38) make other tasty options.
Drinks to go with your meal could well begin with a cocktail such as the truffle old fashioned, featuring truffle-infused scotch, porter syrup and shaved truffle ($24), and progress to wines by the glass such as Super Tuscan Il Ponte Balto 2015 ($18), a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah.
For dessert, go with the decadent Sicilian cannolo with sheep’s milk ricotta and chocolate chip ($14). The delicate cannolo shell, a shade darker from the red wine added to the dough, cracks easily on the bite, unveiling a creamy melange of ricotta and chocolate.
#01-05, 55 Keong Saik Road. Tel: 62220627