The Serangoon Gardens district has been gentrifying over the past decade, with many restaurants and cafes sprouting across the “village”. The latest opening is Casa Manini, bringing a slice of la dolce vita to the once staid residential enclave.
This charming restorante is founded by self-taught chef Fulvio Manini, a former executive at luxury brand Bulgari, with a lending hand from his multi-tasking wife Fiona who’s a marcom executive at the same company, helping out after office hours and over weekends. Fulvio shared that he fell in love with cooking from a young age, having been brought up in a large family in the medieval town of Bergamo in the Lombardy region of northern-Italy where food is the centrepiece of family life. Hung on the wall of the restaurant is a black-and-white photo of his family 4-storey house, built in 1915 by his architect grandfather.
You can feel the labour of love that has gone into the making of this restaurant – the cosy and cheery space is tastefully decorated, showcasing bric-a-bac from the owners’ home. You get little touches like a card with your reservation name placed in a little pot of plant, and a decorative red Vespa scooter that fronts the restaurant. Indeed it does make you feel like you are dining at Manini’s home, in line with the Italian meaning of Casa Manini.
The food is rightfully authentic. One of my litmus test is the classic Margherita Pizza; it didn’t disappoint with its crisp yet doughy crust topped with molten cheese and tomato sauce, perfect with the generous and very drinkable Sangiovese house-pour.
One of our favourite Italian dishes is Vongole Spaghetti; the rendition here is not bad with the clams quite fresh. The Seafood Risotto with Tomato Sauce was a firm hit with our table, addictive with its light yet flavoursome sauce, embedded with pieces of tasty calamari imported from Italy.
From the mains, the grass-fed Angus Beef Ribeye was done a perfect medium rare – delectable with its nicely charred meat imbued with a smoky flavour. Excellent value at S$29 for 200g.
We were comped a refreshing and well-chilled dessert of Lemon Sorbet, a delightful zesty palate cleanser.
We didn’t get round to trying them but Chef Manini claims the piece de resistance at Casa MANINI is the classic beef and pork Lasagne.
Casa Manini is a wonderful addition to the already vibrant dining scene in the village. With its charming decor, warm hospitality and neighbourhood-friendly prices, it should be a mainstay for discerning diners looking for affordable authentic Italian food. Buon appetito!
14B Kensington Park Road
Phone: +65 62811286