I’ve been to Italy once and I absolutely loved the food there. One of the best foods in Europe, in my opinion. But when I came back to Asia, I found that nothing could compare. I wasn’t sure if it was the ingredients used or the way the dishes were cooked that was slightly “Asianised”.
But I was brought back to that summer I spent in Italy when I dined at Burlamacco over at Amoy Street, which is helmed by Chef Gabriele Piegaia from Tuscany, Italy.
If you notice, Burlamacco spots a carnival like theme, with a jester or clown-like figure as its logo (and in most of its paintings inside). And when I asked, Chef Gabriele told us that it was the mascot of his home town, Viareggio in Tuscany. I thought this was a nice touch as the chef was sharing with the patrons a part of his home.
When we arrived, we started off with some drinks and purposely picked some Italian wines. We had a glass of Pinot Grigio, 2013 (left: $18 per glass) and a glass of Rosso Veneto L‘Appasione IGT, 2014 (middle: $18 per glass).
The Pinot Grigio was a dry white wine that was light in flavour, while the other was a red wine which was very rich in flavour.
I’m honestly not a wine person, but the white wine was quite delightful.
We also tried one of their mocktails (because there should always be one designated sober person). And had the Shirley Temple (right: $10). I’d say this drink didn’t stand out as compared to the others you’d get outside. But I’m not here to comment too much on their drink, but rather the food.
Walking around the restaurant, I noticed that they have won several awards for their food! This got me even more excited!
An interesting thing about the menu here is that new dishes are added every month. Chef Gabriele did this with his regular customers in mind, so as they wouldn’t be get bored with the dishes here at Burlamacco.
A basket of bread baked in-house was served to us Italian style -- with olive oil and vinegar. I'm not sure what kind of vinegar is used here but I thought that it wasn't too sour and had a slight sweet tinge to it. The bread also went well with butter, but I would suggest going full on Italian!
For starters, we had the Hand Chopped Red Tuna Tartar Served with Avocado ‘Battuta’ ($28). This came highly recommended by Chef Gabriele. As someone who doesn’t fancy eating raw fish (sashimi), this was a really nice starter. I never would’ve imagined that avocado and raw tuna would be such a great match. Also, the tuna was definitely really fresh. Such a refreshing starter that totally whet my appetite.
Another starter we tried was the Duck Foie Gras with Caramelised Onion & Green Tomato Jam ($32). Ever since I had the raw foie gras from Audace, I was quite certain that nothing was going to come close to that. But this foie gras dish definitely gave it a good fight.
The foie gras was nicely pan seared such that it had a nice thin and crispy layer on the outside, while the inside stayed so soft. What blew my mind was the green tomato jam this dish came with. The sweet flavours from the jam paired with the strong meaty flavours of the foie gras was just the perfect combo. Though, I would definitely say that this dish would be more suited to share between two people as it can be a little fatty and thus a little heavy (jelak) for one person as a starter.
Down to the mains, we first had the Pappardelle with Pork Leg Ragout Marinated 7 Days in Red Wine ($30). This was by far my favourite dish among the lot. The pappardelle was hand-made and came al dente. The pork leg ragout was mind-blowing!
The meat was so tender and totally melts in your mouth. I also loved how you can still taste hints of tomato in the sauce, because I found that most places that serve ragout tend to lose most of the tomato and red wine flavour after stewing of marinating the meat for long hours. This sauce retained everything and was a lovely marriage of flavours.
Next, we had the 48Hr Slow Cooked Beef Short Ribs with Marsala Wine Sauce ($44). When you think of something being cooked for two whole days, you’d imagine it to be super soft and has soaked up all the flavours from the marinade. True enough, this was so soft, I could easily cut it with a fork. Every bite was so flavourful, as the marinade has been absorbed into the meat. Just amazing.
Here’s a traditional dish all the way from Tuscany, the ‘Cacciucco’ Traditional Tuscan Seafood Stew with Garlic Bruschetta ($42). If you love seafood, this is definitely a must try!
A super hearty and soul-warming dish, I can imagine myself enjoying this on a cold rainy day or even for lunch as a hangover remedy. The stew had a very strong seafood flavour, so I would suggest that if you’re ordering to share, have this last, because if you were to eat anything else after, it would end up masking the flavour.
It doesn’t stop here! There’s always room for dessert.
We tried the highly recommended ‘Tiramisu’ With Lady Finger Biscuits & Mascarpone Cheese ($18). What’s Italian food without some Tiramisu right? Although the presentation for this wasn’t as fantastical as the Pannacotta, I thought this tasted much better. The lady finger biscuits were clearly soaked in the coffee for a long time as every bite I took was very strong in coffee flavour. This is definitely another must try in my list!
As for the ‘Pannacotta’ Eggless Custard Cream with Vanilla Bean & Berries ($12), I was glad that this came before the Tiramisu as I would imagine the strong flavours from the Tiramisu would mask the taste of the Pannacotta.
I love all things vanilla and I was glad to spot a lot of vanilla beans in this dessert. I would highly suggest this if you, like me, have a low tolerance for caffeine and would like to keep yourself from staying up all night. However, my only issue with this was that I thought the plating was a little bit childish. The chef later said that the coloured syrup was inspired by confetti (what you'd typically see in carnivals). Personally, it didn't appeal to me, but I'm sure kids will appreciate the colourful notes. But then again, all these didn't matter that much because it tasted so good!
Since I work around the area, I’ll definitely pop by here again one day (probably after pay day!).