PUBLISHED September 9th, 2017 06:00 am
The latest in Italian restaurateur Beppe de Vito’s sizable portfolio of restaurants and bars, which includes the likes of the stunning Il Lido at the Cliff, CBD eatery Osteria Art, and the one-Michelin-starred Braci, Amò was meant to be a casual concept that gathered the best culinary influences from all of Italy. When we visited the outlet on Hong Kong Street, the restaurant wasn’t congruous with most people’s notion of casual – for instance, their child policy only allows children aged six years old and up to dine, and you might feel out of place if you were dressed in anything less than smart casual.
That might not be a bad thing when it comes to this spacious 90-seater restaurant, however, depending on the kind of diner you are, especially since the food is reason enough for us to head back. We started with the pan-seared, mortadella-stuffed Zucchini Flowers ($26). Sitting on pistachio cream and drizzled with lemon honey, this is a moreish and texturally interesting shared appetiser to kick things off.
The interior of the restaurant might be a throwback to its history of being a warehouse in the 1950s with the warm lighting and exposed brick walls, but the scene stealer is definitely the wood-fired oven in the middle of the open kitchen. Pizzas are definitely the heart of Amo, with Chefs Federico Schiraldi and Mary Cirillo (formerly from ilLido Groups’s other restaurants Osteria Art and Aura) spending two years in Puglia to perfect their pizza-making techniques. Their effort has clearly paid off, with gems like the Friarielli, Pancetta, Pumpkin, and Smoked Mozzarella ($28) and the Stracciatella, Prosciutto, Rucola, and Fig Vincotto ($29) on the menu.
One thing that Amò does differently from most pizza joints is adding the toppings to the pizza post-slicing after it leave the almond wood fired oven, so you don’t have to fight over that slice with more toppings. You might scratch your head over the combination of the former but the sweet, velvety pumpkin puree contrasts exceedingly well with the salty pancetta and smoked cheese. The latter might be more conventional on paper with the dominance of the prosciutto, but the fig vincotto (made by hours of slow cooking and reduction) and the Stracciatella (an Italian buffalo milk cheese) enhances the familiar flavours for a whole new experience.
I love carbs so I didn’t shy away from the Spaghettoni with Boston Lobster and Tarragon ($78) when it came highly recommended to us. Served with the whole lobster still in its shell, it’s quite an impressive sight to behold since you can barely see the pasta under the crustacean. Thankfully, the sauce wasn’t overly tomato-forward and there was a nice acidity that balanced out the pasta (which could be more al dente) and the lobster. Folks who can still eat and are in the mood for seafood can opt for the Grilled Octopus ($35) with grilled Friggitelli peppers (a cousin of the capsicum) and Calabrian chili vinaigrette. It might be a little pricey for just one tentacle, but execution was pretty much perfect so no quibbles there.
Desserts are decent. Unfortunately, the Tiramisú ($18) is more of a caramel and banana sweet treat than a coffee and mascarpone cheese confection. Go for the Ricotta Cheese Castagnole with Moscato Sabayon ($15) instead. Filled with ricotta cheese, the deep-fried dough balls are then dusted with icing sugar served with a dip made with egg yolks, sugar and moscato. Yum.
Amò is located at 33 Hong Kong Street, Singapore 059672, p. +6723 7733. Open Mon-Fri 12pm-3pm, 6pm-11pm, Sat 6pm-11pm. Closed Sunday.
Images courtesy of Sylvester Fedor.