Ciao@ Italian Risto-Bar is a restaurant in a bar with front entrance at Haji Lane and back entrance from Arab Street. Chef Domenico calls it his home and I can understand why. The passionate chef has created a menu comprises of recipes from members of his families as well as using most of the ingredients from Italian whenever he can.
Fritto Del Piceno 3/5
Diners at Ciao@ can start with some Italian finger food in the Fritto Del Piceno ($16). The mixed fried of Marche region includes cheeses, vegetables and a chef's surprise. If I am not wrong, the chef's surprise is minced meat with olive. It turned out to be my favourite among the trio for the layered flavours.
The Pan Fried Calamari with pine nuts, cherry tomato and olive taggiasche is a light and refreshing appetiser, lightly seasoned, allowing the main ingredient to be the star.
Sughe D' Magre 4/5
The Sughe D' Magre ($23) is a linguine dish cooked with tuna, anchovies and green olive in tomato sauce. It may look like any ordinary dish but this is packed full of flavours. The fresh tomato sauce is the highlight for me, bringing the pasta to life.
Ravoli Di Ricotta 4.2/5
The fresh tomato sauce once again is the highlight for the Ravoli Di Ricotta ($22). The handmade pasta stuffed with spinach and ricotta cheese works beautifully together. This is definitely one of the best ravoli I have tried.
Focaccia Al Rosmarino 4/5
The Focaccia Al Rosmarino ($15) is definitely good for sharing. The Italian bread is topped with fresh rosemary and garlic for an enriched flavour.
For an unique offering at Ciao@, there is the Pizzawich ($15) which is a cross between a pizza and sandwich. It is like having a toastie. There are a total of nine different flavours to chose from. We tried the Sud E Nord Pizzawich which has burrata cheese and parma ham. I personally like the idea of the pizzawich. Besides the fact that it is good, it is also convenient to eat and for takeaway.
With innovation in the pizzawich, Ciao@ also offers the traditional thin crust pizza in their menu. As we were too full to tried the different pizzas, we specially requested for the chef to do a half-half pizza. Do note they do not sell half-half pizza on their menu. This is specially done for the purpose of our tasting. Anyway we tried the Tartufina ($24) and 4 Stagioni ($20) pizza.
4 Stagioni 3.5/5 and Tartufina 4/5
The Tartufina Pizza is spread with the earthy truffle paste and mozzarella. The aroma of the truffle can be smelled from a distance. It is a rich and flavourful pizza but somehow one dimensional in terms of flavour. For the 4 Stagioni Pizza it has more varieties, topped with mozzarella, tomato sauce, cooked ham, artichoke, black olive and mushroom. I preferred this for the medley of flavours.
Stinco Di Maiale Alla Birra 4.5/5
Besides the staple pasta and pizza in Italian cuisine, we also tried the Stinco Di Maiale Alla Birra ($38). The chef seems very proud of his pork knuckle. He explained that usually pork knuckle are done such that the flavour is concentrated on the exterior but the meat itself is bland. I can understand why after having a piece of it. I can still taste the beer in the tender meat which fell off the bone with ease. The pork knuckle is also served with mash potato and white cabbage.
Bistecca Di Polipo 4/5
I was actually quite curious when I saw grilled octopus steak with sauteed spinach in the menu. The Bisteeca Di Polipo ($32) is actually chopped grilled octopus molded into shape. A beautiful dish with the light seasoning, allowing the full enjoyment of the pillowy grilled octopus.
Zia Luisa's Tiramisu 3.8/5
Accordingly to the Chef, the Zia Luisa's Tiramisu ($12) is his sister recipe. The layers of velvety mascarpone cheese and finger biscuit drenched in coffee is on the lighter side compare to many other places. He explained this is how his sister likes it and he finds it appropriate to be part of the menu after all the rich flavour dishes.
Panna Cotta 3.5/5
The Panna Cotta ($9) with its wobbly and silky smooth texture, paired with the mixed berry compote is another light and pleasing dessert to finish the dinner.
Ciao@ Gelato 4/5
The homemade gelato, Pistachio Mascarpone Cheese ($6) will cap off the diner in a sweet note with its sweetness and creamy texture.
It makes me wonder Chef Domenico wants to open an Italian restaurant in the Malay enclave at Kampong Glam. Probably he sees an opportunity that non of the food establishments in the vicinity is offering authentic Italian cuisine. It may also caters to the hotels and residential nearby. One thing for sure, the large menu offering an array of home cooked fare will delight diners with the home recipes, just like dining at the Chef's home coupled with his warm hospitality.
Ciao@ Italian Risto-Bar
8 Haji Lane
(39 Arab Street - back entrance)
Tel: +65 62969688
Nearest MRT: Bugis (EW Line, DT Line), Nicoll Highway (CC Line)
Tue-Thu: 5pm - 1am
Fri-Sat: 5pm - 2am
Sun: 1130am - 10pm
(Closed on Mon)
1) Alight at Nicoll Highway MRT station. Take Exit A. Take the overhead bridge to Beach Road. Walk towards the junction of Jalan Sultan and Beach Road. Cross the road and walk down Beach Road. Turn right onto Arab Street. Walk to destination. Journey time about 10 minutes. [Map]
2) Alight at Bugis MRT station. Take Exit B. Walk towards Raffles Hospital. Walk to junction of North Bridge Road and Ophir Road. Cross the junction and walk down North Bridge Road towards Haji Lane. Turn right into Haji Lane. Walk to destination. Journey time about 10 minutes. [Map]