It was a first visit to PerBacco, yet another restaurant sitting amid the many others along Craig Road in the Tanjong Pagar vicinity. For me who have a love-relationship with carbs but still gobbles down her pasta unreservedly, the presence of this Italian joint is certainly not a complaint.
But of course, this casual yet chic establishment is more than just about pasta. There is a refreshed element with the spotlight specially falling on wholesome Northern regional specialties.
"PerBacco" (means "of Bacchus" in Italian) pays homage to the mythical God of wine and merrymaking, both of which are encouraged at the restaurant.
Though I do take a sip of wine every now and then, I'm more of a teetotaler so all the calories spent at this meal were on the food.
And I must say, Chef Marco Fregnan did a pretty good job of satisfying our tummies with the deliciousness that was presented on the table.
Hailing from Treviso in Northern Italy with 14 years of culinary expertise, he seeks to acquaint his guests with the lesser-known regional cuisine, one with a clear penchant for ingredients such as butter, cheese and milk, alongside familiar Italian classic dishes. His signature dishes are as he likes to say, "just like nonna's (grandmother)".
The complimentary bread made a reasonably good impression and some of us even had repeated serving into our meal. But if your appetite is not of the ferocious kind, my advice would be to go easy on that, and focus on the many appetizers, pastas, mains and desserts that PerBacco has to offer.
For instant, the Spicy Crab Meat Croquettes ($12) were little nuggets of fresh crab meat with ricotta and potato addictiveness that was quite impossible to resist. Though it lacked the mentioned spiciness, I didn't come to an Italian restaurant expecting the chili padi kind of fiery heat. So, okay lah.
Scamorza with Soft Fritters ($14) is good for you who loves the combination of baked scamorza cheese wrapped in parma ham, accompanied with crusty fried fritters made with a batter consisting of flour, butter, peas, carrots and zucchini.
I wondered if the Sweet & Sour Prawns ($24) would be similar to our well-loved local zhi-char sweet & sour pork dish before reminding myself that hey, this is an Italian restaurant.
The rendition here is actually a twist on the classic Venetian dish, Sarde in Saor, which is traditionally made with sardines. Instead of fish, juicy prawns are wrapped in parma ham before being seared and served on a bed of slow-cooked onions with a touch of vinegar, sweet raisins and garnished with pine nuts. The entire starter was an enjoyment which made me anticipate in greater excitement of the upcoming pasta courses. So far, so good.
Gnocchi is not my usual order being personally not too fond of the dough dumpling's typical starchy heaviness, but PerBacco's freshly housemade Potato Gnocchi with Gorgonzola & Walnuts ($26) surprised with its soft and delicate texture that was all too pleasing. The addition of crunchy walnuts gave the pillowy goodness a welcoming textural contrast, and the creamy gorgonzola cheese sauce complemented it well.
Though the Green Pea Risotto ($20) was perfectly executed with al dente premium Acquerello Carnaroli rice that was cooked in a vegetable broth with green pea puree and whole green peas with flavors lifted with a drizzle of mint-infused oil, it got monotonous after the initial few tasty spoonfuls.
There was a sense of dissatisfaction that refuses to leave, until I realized we did not try any of the time-honored classics such as Homedmade Tagiatelle with Beef Bolognese ($22), Spaghetti Vongole ($23) or Lobster Linguine Carbonara ($28).
I felt that we cannot step out of PerBacco without trying at least one pasta noodle dish, and finally decided to order Squidink Angel Hair with Crabmeat & Bottarga. Oh boy, what a great choice! Everyone at the table loved the lovely bite of the pasta! The generous chunks of crabmeat and salted, cured fish roe that filled the mouths were undoubtedly agreeable as well.
Main selection of Milk-stewed Codfish ($32) was no less enticing. Cooked in milk, onions and anchovies for 1.5 hours till flavors are infused deeply into the fish, and served with grilled polenta, it was indeed one of the most comforting fare to have especially on a cold night.
The Stewed Veal Cheek ($34) had the fork-tenderness and tasty robustness of meat that is marinated overnight in red wine then slow-cooked for three hours. Nice, but the dish lacked a note of unexpectedness which was displayed in the earlier courses.
Our dinner ended on a sweet note with a rich yet light Ricotta Cheesecake ($15) served with peach compote, and Hazelnut Panna Cotta ($12), a signature of Chef Marco's that is crowned with caramelized whole hazelnuts.
For busy executives on-the-go, PerBacco also serves a 3-course lunch meal that is reasonably priced at $29.90.
Address: 20 Craig Road, #01-03 Craig Place, Singapore 089692
Contact: +65 6635 7130
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 12pm-2.30pm & 6pm-11.30pm / Closed on Sunday
Prices stated are in Singapore dollars and subject to 10% service charge and 7% GST.