The plans to visit Pietro Ristorante Italiano started when my friend asked me, "Do you like Italian food?". My answer was one which does not require a second thought - Yes!... "Then you should try the food at Pietro!"- I was told that the restaurant serves perennial favorites like pastas and pizzas, while staying true to classic Italian recipes such as preparing the carbonara without any cream. A few days later, a fellow choir sister told me she just celebrated her birthday at Pietro and how she enjoyed the food. A double sign for me that I must go, go, go!
Admittedly, Pietro's location at Jalan Kelulut, within the quiet private residential neighborhood of Seletar Hills estate (off Yio Chu Kang Road), sounds like a very remote area which I would usually not explore into, except when there is the lure of good food. We were blessed with a car ride that day, but after doing a google map check, I realized that the restaurant is actually rather accessible with bus services stopping along the main road.
A little off the beaten track but the travel would be worth it, as the laid-back, kampung (village) feel of the surroundings coupled with a casual, spacious restaurant interior makes Pietro a great, unpretentious place for gathering with family and friends over delicious food!
The lunch crowd had more or less dispersed as it was quite late when we arrived. Residents living in the vicinity and office crowd from the nearby commercial hub makes up the bulk of diners, and there many regulars who have followed Pietro's owner chef, Peter Neo, in his culinary journey through the years.
You may find Chef Peter a rather familiar face, as he does appear regularly on local TV shows, and is widely sought after for food demonstrations, interviews for events and radio programme. Having spent a few years in Italy learning his craft and after horning his skills at several Italian restaurants in Singapore, he finally opened a place of his own and named it 'Pietro', which means 'Peter' in Italian.
Don't be fooled by Chef's Peter's Chinese roots, or his conversations in Hokkein, this man can cook up a scrumptious Italian feast just as well as his Italian counterparts. An open window from the dining area allows patrons to have a peep into the on-going actions of the kitchen, but we had it better - we were graciously invited into the working space!
Chef Peter demonstrated to us the art of cooking pasta and shared some finer tips. I thought it was simple, it doesn't look difficult, I'm sure most of us have tried cooking pasta at home. But Chef Peter's mastery control of fire and timing makes all the difference.
Take for instance the Spaghetti alle Vongole ($20). We witnessed the whole cooking process, and attest to the fact Chef Peter uses only basic ingredients like fresh clams, garlic, chilli and not even any broth to enhance the cooking of pasta or white wine sauce, but the plate of spaghetti was remarkably bursting with full-bodied sweetness in every mouthful. It looked straightforward, but the rich taste might not be one which we can replicate fully in our home kitchen.
The Spaghetti alla Carbonara ($18) was equally delectable, sticking to the classic recipe using bacon, egg yolk and parmesan cheese. No cream is added for this carbonara, the only creaminess came from the egg yolk which also gave the dish a boost of delicate fragrance on top of the smokey aroma of bacon.
My choice of favourite went to the Spaghetti Aglio Olio con Anatra ($24), a pasta done aglio olio-style with duck meat! Chef Peter does his own roasting for the duck and its flavours are wonderfully infused in the spaghetti tossed with olive oil, garlic and chilli. A beautiful combination which is absolutely a delight to relish in!
The menu also features another pastas like homemade fettuccine, penne, ravioli, gnocchi as well as risotto. Selections include Gnocchi con Porcini e Olio al Tartufu ($28) of homemade dumpling stuffed with porcini and finished off with a drizzle of truffle oil. For a stronger taste, go for the Gnocchi allo Spezzatino de Wagyu ($34), another homemade pasta with stewed Wagyu beef, cheery tomatoes and permesan cheese. Fettuccinne al Tartufo e Foie Gras ($36), homemade truffle-pasta with foie gras, porcini mushroom and truffle oil certainly sounds like a decadent indulgence (I wanna try this next time!).
I may be whining about getting fat from eating carbs all the time, but nothing gets between me and pasta, especially when the pasta dishes we had that day were cooked to the desired al-dente perfection. The firm-to-the-bite texture was highly pleasing to us who love it to be done in this classic Italian way, though some localized tastebuds actually prefer it otherwise. Chef Peter, being easy-going and obliging, will accommodate to diner's request for a softer bite if preferences are made known to him beforehand.
When Chef Peter initially asked what would I like to have, my dining companions unanimously answered for me, "CHICKEN WINGS!" lol. Pietro's rendition of Ali Di Pollo Alla Griglia ($16), was a platter of chicken wings deep-fried to crispy goodness and tossed in a tangy sauce of lemon juice and herbs, completed with subtle notes of appetizing spiciness.
The main offerings are just as appealing, with the signature Pancetta Arrosto ($26) being a must-order. Laboriously marinated, steamed and then roasted, the resultant pork belly boasted of flavorful tender meat crowned with a layer of light crackling skin. It was served with a tasty company of porcini mushrooms and kidney beans, as well as apple sauce to counter any feelings of greasy surfeitness. The Pollo Impanato con Rosmarino e Salsa al Vino Rosso ($22), a gorgeously grilled whole rosemary chicken in red wine sauce is a safe, but nonetheless delectable choice which satisfied the palate.
At the corner of the restaurant sits a red wood-fired oven where countless pizza are churned out in full view of diners. The initial plan was to learn from Chef Peter and have a hands-on experience in making our own pizzas, but we started eating, and eating, and forgotten about it lol.
Chef Peter did a demonstration for us instead, a sight to behold as he shaped the dough with his hands and giving it tosses in the air, before topping it with a cream base sauce, mozzarella cheese, homemade pork sausages and porcini. Into the high-temperature inferno it went, all it took was a couple of minutes for this Pizza Pietro ($26) to be ready.
It came out a tad charred at certain parts, but the fault was ours as we distracted Chef Peter with our incessant photo-taking and yakking. Still, with a final garnishing of pink peppercorns and arugula, the end product was exactly how I love pizzas to be - Thin, crispy at the edges yet retaining a slight chewy bite at the center, light tasting with a well-balanced amount of ingredients and flavors.
Chef Peter's streak of experimentalism saw him giving the classic tiramisu of espresso-dipped lady fingers and mascarpone cream a slight twist, with pistacho added to his moist and spongy Tiramisu Pistachio ($14). Lava cake lovers have choices of Pistachio - Tortino di Lava al Pistachio ($15), Chocolate - Tortino di Lava ($13) or Chocolate with rum - Tortino di Lava al Rum ($15), all served with vanilla gelato.
Chef Peter is one of the most affable chefs I've met. His enthusiasm and sincerity in wanting to share the fruits of his labour is infectious, and you might just end up eating more than you intended to! Lol! It's a good thing, because the food is all of comforting, homey deliciousness, capped with a great value 1-for-1 deal for most of the pastas and pizza during lunch on weekdays. Great place which you should come, come, come! :D
Many thanks to the kind hospitality of Chef Peter and the wonderful company of Ian, Alvin, Tony, Jimmy and Uncle Smart.
Pietro Ristorante Italiano
Address: 12 Jalan Kelulut, Singapore 809030
Contact: +65 64845528
Opening Hours: Daily Lunch 11.30am-2.30pm / Dinner 6pm-11pm