Updated November 22nd, 2016
What started off as a top 5 Italian restaurants in Singapore has morphed into nearly 20 restaurants. I have no doubt (and I hope) that you’ll be able to suggest a few more to add to this list.
I know we’re in Singapore and Italy is far, far away, but when I was asked recently by Heather and Donny at Turtles Travel, “If you had to choose one country’s cuisine to eat for the rest of your life what would it be?” The answer quite simply had to be, “Italian”. So I feel a post dedicated entirely to the best Italian restaurants in Singapore warrants some space. Here goes:
Baci Baci (Best Family Friendly Option)
After a summer sojourn to Sardinia I returned to Singapore to find a wonderful new family run Italian restaurant in Serangoon. Typically Italian with warmth, charm, good food and wine Baci Baci is a great option for a family night out. You can read more here.
Angeleno (Best for Decadence)
With thanks to David J Almany who reminded me that I’d skipped Angeleno off this post (the original post was written back at the end of 2014). Angeleno was opened earlier in 2016 by Travis Maseiro, he of Luke’s fame.
As with Luke’s, everything at Angeleno is done impeccably well. The two pastas I tried at Angeleno were definitely among the best I’ve had in Singapore. And I’d have to say, they even rival some in Italy. Angeleno is what I’ve described as a modern American take on Italian food. The classics underpin everything, but there is an unmistakable American twang to it. Starting with the negroni-esque cocktails. And moving onto the hearty and imaginative pastas, crispy bread with whipped ricotta and simply fantastic meat. The catch is, you will be lucky to leave without spending $150. You can read more here.
20 Gemmill Lane, Singapore
phone +65 6221 6986 for reservations (recommended)
Open Monday to Saturday 12pm to 11pm
No Menu (Best Family Owned and Operated)
This is a tricky category because most of the Italian restaurants in Singapore are family owned. No Menu edges the others out for their super friendly service that I attribute entirely to ‘la famiglia’. Husband and I enjoyed a Friday night dinner here, when the restaurant was obviously busy, and everyone who served us managed to smile whilst taking orders, delivering orders and keeping things running efficiently. Highlights (which was in actual fact everything we ordered) were the delightfully gooey burrata with Sicilian tomatoes and prosciutto, tender vitello tonnato, beautifully grilled barramundi and melt in your mouth osso bucco (and apologies for the terrible photo quality, it’s a dimly lit restaurant 😉 ).
We certainly left feeling full but at $109 per head including only one glass of wine between two people this is not exactly your everyday local Italian restaurant. For the combination of service, food and location though No Menu is definitely one to return to. The main reason is the very personalised service and being able to ask questions of the chef and his wife and have them honestly and lovingly answered. I’ll post a complete review for you in the coming weeks.
21/23 Boon Tat Street, Singapore, 069621
phone +65 6224 0091
Trattoria Nonna Lina (Best All Rounder)
I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was best about Nonna Lina until I realised that everything was done well. I really can’t fault anything about the experience. On a Tuesday lunch time the restaurant was only about half full but given the weather and the day of the week that’s not bad. The other thing I observed about Nonna Lina was the staffing was efficiently performed by only one person at front of house. The one person was the Italian mother of the Italian chef (we’re not sure where Nonna is) and she swiftly dealt with patrons in a calm and measured manner. In saying that we did have a mix up with our order but again that was dealt with professionally and without blaming the customer.
A starter of buffalo mozzarella with parma ham was a good size portion and more than enough for two. The cheese could have been softer but a plane ride will have that effect. Next up we both had pastas, a penne Granchio and Pappardelle al Ragu. Both were ample servings with al dente pasta and good sauces. The Granchio in particular had a perfect spice level and good amount of crab. We then shared an appetiser of the Tenderloin with gorgonzola sauce. Really excellent. Tender meat cooked medium which suited it fine and a creamy gorgonzola sauce complemented it perfectly. Two of us paid just under $70 each inclusive of tax and service. Nonna Lina also do a set lunch for $33++ per person.
Trattoria Nonna Lina
61 Cantonment Road, Singapore, 089757
phone +65 6222 0930
Buko Nero (Best for Date Night)
Buko Nero is a tricky place to get a reservation. The intimately managed 20 seater restaurant is run by husband and wife team Tracy and Oscar Pasinato who’ve built a solid reputation over their 14 years in business. Firstly though you need to be aware that the size means that you will need to reserve a seat well in advance for a weekend night dinner. And the best bet is to reserve a seat for weeknights as well, just to be sure. Leave a message on the answering machine if you don’t get directly through and they’ll call you back.
Tracy and Oscar somehow manage to do an outstanding job of keeping things simple whilst providing excellent food and top service levels. With only two of them around. It’s impressive when you see restaurants only slightly larger with five times the staff who don’t seem to be able to get their shit together. Anyway.
The room itself is simple and homely. Tables are quite close together so if there’s only a few tables occupied I suggest you ask for table away from the others so that you don’t have to overhear their conversation and vice versa. There is a daily set menu to choose from, or an a la carte menu. We opted to try one set menu and two dishes from the a la carte which was the perfect way to enjoy the best of what was on offer.
The set menu is super value at $58 for five courses (inclusive of gst), and includes an amuse bouche (of which they also served one to me even though I didn’t order the set, touches like that really make an experience memorable), soup, sorbet, pasta and dessert.
From the a la carte menu I ordered a starter of mashed potato and octopus. I’d had an octopus craving since visiting FOC a few weeks back and this was the exact right time to cave into it. Beautifully creamy potato, not machine mashed though, it was light and smooth, and perfectly seasoned. The octopus was grilled and tender. Simple and perfect. The way proper Italian food always is. Both starters from the set were good, fresh and simple and the soup had a good kick to it. My main of crumbed cod with fresh vegetables was light but well seasoned and full of flavour. Pasta ragu was also very good. I didn’t try dessert but Husband was fully satisfied with his serving.
Service is professional although not particularly warm, however, Tracy clearly understands the menu inside out as well as the wines. We paid $150 per head including one bottle of wine ($120 + 10%) so it’s certainly not cheap but well worth every penny. It would be good to see some more reasonably priced wines to choose from.
126 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore, 088534
phone +65 6324 6225
Gattopardo (Best Set Lunch)
The set lunch at Gattopardo was so good on my recent visit that I dedicated a post entirely to the experience. You can read about it here. The location is good, the setting is refined (not quite fine dining but not far off) and the food is excellent. As for value, at $36++ for three courses including cheese, I haven’t found a better value option around town.
34 Tras Street, Singapore, 079026
phone +65 6338 5498
Ristorante da Valentino (Best Overall)
The level of quality and service at Valentino’s eclipses anything else on this list. Unfortunately so does the price so one can’t afford to dine there every week. You can read my full review here but we usually spend in excess of $150 each.
Ristorante Da Valentino (reservations recommended)
200 Turf Club Road, #01-19, Singapore, 287994
phone +65 6462 0555
The restaurant is at the back of Turf City literally underneath the grandstand slightly toward the southern end
Saveur at Cathay (Best Value)
The talented duo who originally opened the budget priced French restaurant Saveur have turned their hands to Italian with the opening of Saveur at Cathay. The casual lunch and dinner service is perfect for a pre movie meal if you’re heading over to the nearby Cathay or alternatively it could work for a speedy business lunch or casual catch up with friends. The relaxed atmosphere, with tables fairly tightly spaced, turns out excellent quality Italian fare at good prices and with surprisingly good service. It could be the location near universities (SMU, SOTA) and museums that attracts the youthful youngsters who work here, whatever it is it works well because they’ve all got a smile on their faces. You can read more about the food here.
Saveur at Cathay
#01-11, The Cathay, 2 Handy Road, Singapore, 229233
+65 6735 1141
La Barca (Best Steak)
Although I’ve only visited La Barca on one occasion, and it was for an organised wine dinner, the steak was so memorable that it warrants a mention on this list. The location at Goodman Arts Centre is unusual, and hard to find, but once you’re there you can lounge in the vast al fresco area and enjoy a sip of good Prosecco and antipasto before you head inside to eat your way through the excellent menu.
The steak we enjoyed on our visit was La Bistecca alla Fiorentina della Barca and was cooked absolutely perfectly, seared on the outside and rare in the middle. It costs $13 per 100g, with a minimum of 500g, which is a bargain. Enjoyed with a rocket salad and potatoes this is the kind of simple meal that the Italians are rightly famous for.
La Barca at Goodman Arts Centre
90 Goodman Road, Singapore, 439053
phone +65 6346 5813
Noti (Best for Atmosphere)
Noti stands out as a memorable evening primarily because of the maitre d. Toni’s effervescent character is embodied at Noti, creating a warm and welcoming ambience that goes a long way to creating a fun evening. The food is good too, antipasti is the highlight, with standards like arrancini balls, bruschetta and crispy calamari all being executed well and reasonably priced. Pastas are good but not a highlight. The bottle of Negroamaro that we tried was excellent and well priced. We spent $130 per head that included three bottles of wine, starters and appetisers all between three people. You can read more here.
54 Club Street, Singapore, 069431
phone +65 6222 0089
Garibaldi (Best Brunch)
Garibaldi has become somewhat of a stalwart of the ever changing Singapore dining scene over the past few years and has enjoyed well deserved success. Garibaldi is ideal for almost any occasion, be it a romantic date night, a business lunch or a get together with friends. Highly recommended is the Sunday brunch at $108++ per head with free flow Prosecco and wine. The food quality is right up there and the Prosecco is dry and crisp. It’s also worth noting that Garibaldi are open for Saturday and Sunday brunch. Definitely a worthy feature on the Ultimate Guide to Brunch and the Best of Italian lists. You can read more here.
36 Purvis Street, Singapore, 188613
phone +65 6837 1468
Al Forno (Best For Kids)
Italian food is famous for being the heart of any family gathering. Even in my relatively uncultured Australian childhood, where going out to dinner was a rarity and a treat, the local Italian restaurant is one of my most vivid memories. As in Italy too, real Italian restaurants will be about food and family and Al Forno on the East Coast seems to typify that to a great degree, all the way on the East Coast of Singapore. The atmosphere is casual and you’d feel comfortable bringing kids, girlfriends, clients or friends here. The menu is great for sharing or equally for individual portions. You can read more here.
400 East Coast Road, Singapore, 428996
phone +65 6348 8781
Burlamacco (Best for Business Lunches)
In its two years of operation Burlamacco has managed to provide consistency and quality to their offering that have kept the crowds returning. There’s nothing here to blow your mind but the combination of location and good food are hard to pass up. The service, as summarised on their website is, “knowledgable but friendly, welcoming without excessive and unnecessary frills”. The set lunch offer at $30++ is excellent value. You can read more here.
77 Amoy Street, Singapore, 069896
phone +65 6220 1763
Bella Pizza (Best Pizza)
Although I’ve had good pizza at many of the venues above, it is Bella Pizza that remains my go to pizza spot in Singapore. It’s partly because they’re only down the road from home, but also because their Diavolo pizza is my favourite. The thin crust with just enough cheese but not too much, just enough salami with just the right amount of spice, always hits the spot. As does the setting by the river.
30 Robertson Quay, Singapore, 238251
phone +65 6734 0139
No Menu Bar (Best Al Fresco)
If you’re in town on a week night and looking for good quality Italian restaurants with good service, a relaxing setting and good value then No Menu Bar is hard to fault. The buzzy little spot on the corner of Boon Tat Street and Telok Ayer Street is a great place to people watch whilst you enjoy daily specials or standards like pizza, roasted vegetables or roast chicken. A main meal will set you back between $12 and $16. You can settle in and enjoy a glass of wine in your hand and happily imagine yourself on the pavement in a Roman trattoria. You can read more here.
No Menu Bar (no reservations)
Corner Telok Ayer and Boon Tat St
phone +65 6224 0091
Alkaff Mansion (Best Value Brunch)
Here’s an idea for a brilliant Sunday in Singapore. Go for a relaxing and satisfying brunch at Alkaff Mansion and once you’re stuffed to the gills then take a short cab ride to Mt Faber and hop on the cable car over to Sentosa for the afternoon. When you arrive, jump on the luge and head down to Siloso Beach and pop into Coastes for a cheeky afternoon drink or two and then head home. Ok, so it’s not an every day kind of event, brunch is extravagant and so is the cable car trip, but it’s a whole lot of fun for both big and small kids 🙂
The brunch at Alkaff is good value and of a decent standard. The antipasto offerings of octopus ceviche and oysters were highlights, and for something more substantial the pastas and roast beef were excellent. Free flow Prosecco brunch on Sunday is $88++. Service is a little bit inconsistent but generally ok. I’ve been warned off set dinners here, apparently they’re not as good value.
10 Telok Blangah Green, Singapore, 109178
phone +65 6510 3068
Cicheti (Best near Bugis)
I almost skipped Cicheti from this list because people have been commenting on some poor aspects of the service there. But a reader who visited recently noted that service was decent so I’ll throw it out there for you to decide. The owner (or one of) is sometimes to be found doing front of house duties which apparently isn’t her strong suit. It’s a shame when service was so good on my first visit there (read about it here) but when you see consistent comments citing the same problem it does make you think. Anyway, the food at Cicheti is worth a visit. Their pizzas are worth particular mention, as is the oven cooked Branzino Sotto Sale (salt baked fish). All prepared well and provided in good serving sizes. Flavours are unadulterated Italian. You can read a full review here.
52 Kandahar Street, Singapore, 198901
phone +65 62925012
Limoncello (Best at Robertson Quay)
Although there’s nothing to rave about at Limoncello it’s one of those Italian restaurants I’ve been to probably four or five times and it’s always been good. Not great but good. Service is a little flakey (we had a corked bottle of wine last time and the waiter simply looked blank when I asked for a replacement, eventually they complied), pizzas are good and the wine list is reasonable. The outdoor seating by the river is definitely a plus on a balmy evening. On my last visit I paid $90 and we shared two pizzas, a pasta and baked mushrooms as well as two bottles of wine between three.
95 Robertson Quay, Singapore, 238256
phone +65 6634 5117
Enoteca L’Operetta (Best at Boat Quay)
Boat Quay is not normally my first choice for a lunch venue. On a public holiday weekend when we were in town though, and Husband had been at work, we decided to meet at Enoteca for lunch. The alfresco area on the water is a lovely spot to sit, and service here is very good, catering to the business clientele I guess. We ate simply on this visit, a burrata to share and a bowl of pasta each plus two glasses of wine. Everything was simple but perfectly done. Esquisite Burrata and fresh prawns with al dente pasta as well as a great Arrabiata sauce. Again the setting makes for a lovely place for lunch or dinner with professional and reliable service. We paid $70 each.
78 Boat Quay, Singapore, 049866
phone +65 6438 2482
Alba 1836 (Best in Duxton)
One of the newer Italian restaurants in town, Alba 1836 is situated neatly at the end of the Duxton Hill courtyard. The space offers a mix of a natural, light filled, atrium and a more sedate and loungey room surrounding it. Service was very good on our visit, although on a Tuesday lunch it was very quiet indeed. The set menu offered three choices for starters, two for mains and two for dessert. I chose a ricotta stuffed eggplant dish, served on pureed eggplant.
It was decent but I had hoped the truffle flavour wouldn’t overpower the dish and I was wrong, my own fault really. My friend enjoyed her buffalo, prosciutto and tomato salad (which was a huge portion) but it lacked seasoning and oil. The main of pumpkin risotto was good, the right consistency and well seasoned. Baby chicken was indeed baby with the portion being a little on the small side. I’d like to go back and try the a la carte that includes some interesting options like, “Roasted lamb loin in a Sardinian Pecorino cheese crust, served with stewed artichokes “Cacciatora” style with shallots and lamb sauce.”
28 Duxton Hill, Singapore, 089610 (right at the top of the pedestrianised section)
phone +65 6222 2048
Worth a Mention
Clearly it would be impossible to visit the 500 odd Italian restaurants dotted all over Singapore so I’ve drawn the line at the list above. Others that I’ve visited and would happily return to, but for various reasons didn’t write, about include: Oso, Jamie’s Italian, da Mario Pizzeria, Cugini Trattoria and Pizzeria, Da Paola La Terrazza, Pietrasanta, Osteria Mozza and Bistecca. A few that I’ve visited and don’t warrant a recommendation were Da Laura, Etna and La Villa. If you’d like to know more about any of the above please feel free to email me at email@example.com.
Please share your own favourite Italian restaurants in Singapore in the comments!