It is a pleasure for an Italian living in Singapore to review Italian restaurants now and then, although I am always afraid of disappointment. Basilico came highly recommended by quite a few people, so I thought I should give it a try.
Located at the second floor within the Regent's hotel, the restaurant entrance and interior is spacious, sumptuous and grand, as only a hotel can offer. A very large hall is dominated by a central buffet table with dinner tables on one side and a pizza counter, a desserts counter and a wines and spirits bar surrounding it.
As we seated and ordered our food, we were served a warm loaf of bread with homemade pesto. The pesto was very good indeed, freshly made and aromatic, with coarse bits of pine nuts rather than too finely ground.
I thought the Tavolo of antipasti ($26), or buffet or starters, had to be tried and so I did.
I tried an assortment of 'affettati' or hams and cheeses. I thought the 'aromatzzzato al tartufo' cheese was of particular relevance: a very interesting medium cheese with a pungent truffle smell and flavour. Out of all the hams/salami I tried, the pancetta was amongst the best you can have, and the Parma ham was lean, soft and sweet.
I then tried some scallops topped with parsley sauce. They were meaty and juicy. I would say excellent, except I would have preferred them warm/hot which I realise is hard to do with a buffet. The beef carpaccio was also well done. Thin slices of tender and lean beef laid on top of a rocket salad base and topped with bits of grated Parmesan cheese. Olive oil must be added at your own discretion.
Finally, the prawns and mussels were rather uninspired and had no particular 'Italian flavour'. It seemed to me that they were available simply for those who expect seafood to be present at hotel buffets.
I ordered 'Orecchiette with scallops and broccoli' ($25) as my main. I wasn't incredibly impressed with this dish, although it was technically well made. I just thought that the fish flavour wasn't a good match with the rest of the ingredients, including the orecchiette. It was a but overwhelming after a few mouthfuls.
The 'Maltagliati with tomato sauce and polpettine' ($27) was definitely nicer. The homemade maltagliati were superb in texture, perfectly matched by a classic tomato sauce and small meatballs that had a very classic southern flavour.
I ended my meal with an 'affogato al caffe' ($11) which was properly served with espresso coffee on the side, poured on the ice cream right in front of you. It was topped by whipped cream and a crunchy "cantuccino" biscuit, to dunk into the hot coffee.
The bill came to a total of $170 including 2 large bottles of water. The service was impeccable, with an Italian waiter who was knowledgeable and attentive.
We were finally served a complimentary nonalcoholic 'Strawberry Puree with Italian nougat', which I thought was a very nice gesture.
I was not disappointed with Basilico. I would be curious to try more of their dishes, including their a la carte 'antipasti' and 'secondi' to form a more accurate opinion of the quality of their cooking. I can say that their starters buffet is good value for money as it offers a variety of quality Italian products that would be otherwise hard to access in Singapore.
Their cooking style is very classic and the pastas I had were well prepared. Basilico is not cheap, but considering the good service and the fact that it's located within a hotel in a prime area, prices are easily justified.
For reservations: 6725 3232