Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Osvaldo

I meant to visit this place for the longest time and never got a chance, since I have been indulging with my favourite spots for the past few months. Disappointingly, this is another restaurant that fears bloggers' opinions and does not allow pictures of the food. Now, I could understand if a fine dining restaurant such as Andre' didn't allow pictures of the food, as they might not like beginners to portrait their food in a suboptimal way and spoil some of its attractive presentation. But for restaurants such as Buko Nero and Osvaldo where presentation is not really the point, I see no excuse, besides the fact that they might be afraid of criticism and they intend to discourage open opinions about their food. This is why, despite the absence of pictures to go with the review, I will not be discouraged to express my views. I will actually post below the only picture I managed to take, before I was told that "no pictures of the food were allowed".


We started with some cold cuts, or affettati (as we call them in Italy) for $25, which were quite good. The platter included things like Parma ham, salami, mortadella, coppa and lardo di colonnata. I would have preferred if the lardo di colonnata had been saltier, as it was a bit too mild for my liking. The focaccia bread which was served with the affettati would have been outstanding if only it had been properly salted, as everyone around the table thought that there was total absence of salt in the bread. That was a real shame because other than that, it would have been perefectly baked. Clearly it was intentionally plain, but none of us could see the point. Apparently there are rumours that the affettati are "homemade". In general I wouldn't be fooled by such rumours, since home making affettati of this caliber is a complex and involving job which cannot be achieved within a Singapore shophouse. The process of curing meat requires special premises at controlled temperature and humidity which cannot be achieved in Singapore, unless you invested significant amounts in the creation of special (spacious) chambers with humidity and temperature controllers, dedicated to curing meats. Even supposing that someone in Singapore had the knowledge to produce anything close to Parma ham, This would be so expensive to do, both in terms of space, investment and processing, that it would make no sense unless you did it oon a large scale. There are some restaurants in Singapore that claim their own production of affettati only because some of the products they offer (such as mortadella, coppa, bresaola, pancetta, guanciale...) cannot be legally imported in Singapore, so they have to be a bit inventive about their legal origin.

We then tasted a pizza with Parma ham and rocket. It was quite good, we had no complaints, although not outstanding (no differentiation factor from many other pizza restaurants in Singapore).

It's now time for pastas, which should be every Italian restaurant's pride. Let's start from the good ones. Osvaldo's filled pastas were above average. We ordered a Pansotti with spinach and ricotta ($25) which were essentially ravioli. They came in a generous serving and had a classic and rich filling.  Next, the Agnolotti Piemonte ($25) were in my opinion the best of all pastas we tried: a kind of tortellini, but wrapped in a different shape, with a juicy meat filling, served in a slightly creamy meaty sauce. This is the only dish that I would have again.

The spaghettini with fresh tomatoes and bottarga ($27) was the worst of all. The spaghetti itself had a cheap texture. To be honest, none of the spaghetti I cook at home is never so bad, and I suppose it's due to the poor quality of the pasta they use. The spaghetti looked quite transparent, which is usually an index of poor quality wheat. But the worst part was that instead of using fresh, lightly sauteed tomato cubes, which could have paired elegantly with bottarga, the pasta actually came in a tomato sauce, with bottarga sprinkled all around the plate. It is quite obvious that the combination of tomato sauce and bottarga makes no sense whatsoever, since the tomato overwhelms the Bottarga. As a proof of that, none of us could taste the Italian delicacy. The high price felt like a ripoff, since the most expensive pasta of the evening was essentially cheap spaghetti with basic tomato sauce and a 50 cents sprinkle of bottarga on the side. I make pasta with bottarga myself and I know the costs of the products, so I won't be fooled.

Second worst was the wild boar tagliatelle ($25). You think wild boar, and you imagine dark, robust flavours of long braised shredded meat.... the aromas of the wild. These tagliatelle came served with some minced pork tossed in butter and herbs. The sauce had no flavour of "wild boar", nor a cooking technique to match. Quite a disappointment. Edible overall, but just not what it said on the label.

Not so impressed with the pastas, we jumped to the desserts and had the ice cream spaghetti ($15) and an assorted desserts platter ($29). My favourite was the ice cream spaghetti, which reminded me of my hometown (it's an Italian classic), and was quite respectful of the original recipe besides the missing coconut flakes.

Overall Osvaldo serves decent food, but nothing out of the ordinary once you take into account the price tag. There are other Italian restaurants in Singapore which serve better, cheaper pasta, although perhaps they are not as 'fashionable' places to be seen. I can't think of any good reason why I would want to go back.

Osvaldo
Website: http://www.osvaldo.com.sg/
Tel: +65 6224 0978
Address: 32 Maxwell Road #01-03 Maxwell Chambers

8 comments:

alkanphel said...

That's quite a pity to hear about their pasta. I have always wanted to try them out but kept hearing not so favourable reviews.

sooks said...

To be honest, I have yet to be impressed so far even after a second visit. I won't be so quick to say that I wouldn't return but it probably won't be on the list for a while.

amiscell said...

Sooks - I agree with your assessment. Maybe I will give it a second chance at some point in the future, but I'll give it at least 6 to 12 months or so. In the meantime, if I really want to go out to eat Italian, I will stick to the places I know, unless something else comes up.

eimyllin said...

admittedly, i've not been to osvaldos in a while nor taken pictures and i'm surprised to hear about the photo-taking. My friends and I took plenty when we visited the restaurant during its early months.

On the homemade stuff, i definitely agree that it isn't made in singapore, but i think that attribution is to do with them owning their own farm/place in italy and bringing produce over - they told me a story about making their own honey wine.

All in all, I've had some good ones and some misses, been with friends who swear by it and weren't impressed. Mores the pity, i truly enjoy the decor and environment there.

amiscell said...

eimyllin - maybe they introduced this rule recently. I agree with you that the environment is nice and as bloggers we must acknowledge that there are hits and misses everywhere. My main criticism is that I just don't like it when shortcuts are taken purely for speculative reasons. Then again, a restaurant is a business, and if it's doing well they must be doing something right, but it's just not the kind of right I am looking for (and this is very subjective).

MissyGlutton said...

I do "like" the food they prepared, esp ice cream spaghetti. Although the service staff's attitude can be improved.
I would say the "no photography unless u get into a 'I must shoot for my own use'" attitude with them does put me off going there.

Just a question though, Andre is not allowing photography?

bossacafez said...

i wonder if their no-photo policy is new coz my friend took lotsa pics while she was there :

http://vintagetrinkets.blogspot.com/2010/07/osvaldos.html

amiscell said...

MissyGlutton - no, it's definitely allowed. That was my point. If Andre'allows it, I don't see any reason why Osvaldo shouldn't allow it! Tippling Club doesn't allow photography, though.

Bossacafez - Your friend's review is very positive, and the pictures are beautiful. If anything, that review should encourage them to have more!

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