This is my second review of Otto, which I tried for the first time earlier this year during a group pasta tasting. I must say I was not impressed by the pasta dishes I had back then, so this time I stayed away from all those which perhaps are not a match for my taste, except for one. I had 4 pastas in total, a good sample out of their complete pasta menu, which includes 8 pastas in total.
The Paccheri di Gragnano, con Ragout di Cernia, pomodorini Pachino ($28) e origano was actually a generous portion of paccheri, filled with chunks of grouper on a bed of a light fish stock based sauce, lightly sprinkled with spices and herbs and topped with Pachino tomatoes (a superb Sicilian variety of cherry tomatoes). The dish worked well, since the sauce was light enough to let the Pachino tomatoes speak for themselves. I would recommend this pasta to those who like light, fresh, subtly flavoured, sauces.
The Pappardelle al vino rosso con ragout di faraona e pancetta croccante ($24) was a more robust flavoured rustic pasta. The sauce was a ragout of guinea fowl tossed with some cream and sprinkled with tasty browned bacon chunks. The pappardelle had a nice bite and the crispy bacon added crunch and taste to the creamy sauce. I didn't prefer this pasta since I am never for creamy sauces. To my taste, this would have been better without cream, simply with a jus reduction. Flavour and texture were all there and the cream just kind of masked and confused the flavours.
The tagliolini al nero di seppia con gamberi e pesto delicato ($28) was a rather classic pasta, pairing homemade squid ink tagliolini with a generous amount of prawns and lightly sauteed tomato chunks. I would rate this second best out of the four. The flavours were well blended and the sauce had a good density which made it easily adhere to the tagliolini. I would prefer the tagliolini to be firmer in texture, but this rarely happens with homemade pasta.
Finally, I ordered one pasta which I already had during my previous visit: the spaghetti ai ricci di mare e bottarga di Carloforte (sea urchin spaghetti with grey mullet roe, $30). I didn't like this pasta then, and I am still unconvinced by it. It lacks of the freshness that I would hope to taste from a seafood based pasta, and the taste is somehow unnaturally sweet. Also, I wonder what brand of spaghetti was used; the bite/texture gave me the impression of a low quality grain (only the spaghetti had this issue, the other pastas were all top notch).
I would say that Otto is one of the few Italian restaurants in Singapore that serve decent pasta, but for a hefty price tag. With pasta dishes ranging from $24 to $38 dollars, which is in the top price range in Singapore, Otto has to compete with other restaurants that serve equal if not superior quality at more reasonable prices. On the other hand, the attentive and discreet service and soft, comfortably sophisticated ambiance make up for some of the extra cost, making Otto suitable for dating couples.