In case your are wondering about the connection between La Strada and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it happened that we planned to watch the movie at Shaw Center and figured that with the movie running long, we should dine nearby – hence La Strada, a subsidiary of the award winning Les Amis Group (one of my fave F&B Group in Singapore, especially during the times when world-class Masterchef Justin Quek was helming the kitchen) that reopened end September 2013.
First about the movie – don’t cringe; no spoilers here. It really brought back memories of Hans Solo, Chewbacca, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, C-3PO, R2-D2 and many other characters from the first episode I watched as a young man. It’s somewhat disconcerting to see how some of the faces then has aged. The special effects are good and I must say the producer did a good job of rehashing the original; but I’m no fan of 3-D movies – makes me dizzy. Here’s a tip you will appreciate later on: empty your bladder before the movie starts.
Back to the food. La Strada underwent a remake (just like Star Wars: The Force Awakens) into a rather authentic Trattoria, repleted with decorations carrying the national colours of Italy: deep green awnings framing dark colonial shutters, and red furnishings; creating a cozy and rustic ambience that, in their own words, “offers diners a temporary escape from the monotony of the urban jungle“. How true in that it is located near Orchard Road with its shopping frenzy accelerating so near to Christmas.
The walls of the trattoria are adorned with Italian paraphernalia and artworks. We ordered the house pours of a 2013 Aldo Clerico, Dolcetto d’Alba DOCG – Piedmont (S$15) and the 2012 Antonio Caggiano, Tauri, Aglianico dell’Irpinia DOC – Campania (S$15) which turned out full-bodied and smooth.
The restaurant dishes up a delectable spread of Italian cuisine under the guidance of Head Chef Dalton Fong who has had years of experience in sister concepts Bistro du Vin (my fave French go-to in Singapore) and Au Jardin by Les Amis group. We started with the FRITTO MISTO (S$32) of deep fried seafood & vegetables with a side of piquant aioli. It was decent but nothing special to write about – the plating was surprising plain, perhaps in deference to the rustic theme.
The pastas are excellent; authentically al dente and flavourful – beginning with Andrew’s all-time favourite of Penne Pomodoro. This and a few pastas are off-menu. Heres’ another tip: while perusing the menu I commented that the pasta dishes were rather limited when the waitress overhead me and informed us that we may order whatever we want – very impressed!
The Aglio Olio Spaghetti (S$18) was among the best that we had- fragrant, garlicky with a hint of heat from the chilli padi. We had to order seconds.
The TAGLIOLINI AL GRANCHIO (S$34) appeared as flat pasta with very fresh spanner crab, cherry tomatoes, white wine, chilli, garlic – a very tantalising dish; the flavourful stock was mouth-watering.
Next came the CARBONARA Spaghetti (S$28) with chitarra, bacon crumble, runny egg confit, parmesan and true butter – a calorie-laden delight.
The main of BRACIOLE DI MAIALE (S$36) roasted Mangalica pork rack with potato, rosemary, garlic and lemon was heavenly with a robust lip-smacking gravy. Let me rephrase that – the little meat that we had was heavenly; as unfortunately the rack was 1/3 meat and the rest fat. Mangalica pork is from a rare Hungarian breed of domestic pig, termed as the “Kobe Beef” of pork. I knew it should be fatty, but NOT that fatty.
Andrew was rather disappointed with the dessert Of Tiramisu Lemoncello; the traditional version was sold out.
I know it’s a little crass but I couldn’t resist taking a photo of the quaint renaissance-style wash basin in the toilet, beautifully framed by the ethnic-looking tiles.
We enjoyed the dinner as much as Star Wars: The Force Awakens (sorry had to insert this to improve the content SEO); the pastas are authentic and excellent. The place is also decorated for the Christmas celebration and invokes a festive mood. A nice sanctuary if you need to escape from the maddening crowd.
#01-13 Shaw Centre
Phone: +65 67356656