Amo – short for Amore, an Italian word meaning love that is also a term of endearment – is the latest restaurant under the ilLido Group. Its menu focuses on shared dishes and pizza. You don’t have to share, of course, and some of the dishes are sized for one person. But sharing means you get to sample more of the offerings. You should try one of Amo’s pizzas – which, if you eat all by yourself, would leave you as stuffed as a toy bear. The menu lists them under two sections: classic and signature.
I have tried a different signature pizza at each of my three visits and have been increasingly impressed with the pizza crust each time. It is neither thin nor thick, is easy to bite through, has a pleasant chewiness and is flavourful and slightly smoky from the burning logs inside the gas oven in which the pizza is cooked. Toppings-wise, my favourite of the three is the Mushrooms, Truffle, Mascarpone And Tuscan Pecorino ($32). The crust is spread with mushroom puree, a grey paste with the distinct aroma of truffles which, thankfully, is not overpowering. Mascarpone and pecorino cheeses as well as strips of assorted mushrooms, shrivelled almost beyond recognition in the oven heat, provide the pizza with lots of umami goodness.
The other two pizzas are commendable too. Stracciatella, Prosciutto, Rucola And Fig Vincotto ($29) is more conventional, with the prosciutto ham dominating the flavours. The stracciatella cheese and figs add to the profile, but stay very much in the background. Friarielli, Pancetta, Pumpkin And Smoked Mozzarella ($28) is an unusual combination for a pizza, but I like how well the sweet pumpkin balances the bacon saltiness of the pancetta. If the thought of more carbs does not make you shudder, check out the pasta too. The Linguine With Clams, Paprika And Cherry Tomatoes ($29) offers no surprises, but is very satisfying nonetheless. There is a generous number of plump clams and their juices blend with olive oil to coat the pasta thickly, and that is enough to keep me happy. I enjoy the Kurobuta Pork And Sunchoke Ravioli With Truffle Butter ($32) more for the smooth pasta skin. The filling of pork and sunchoke, a root vegetable, is blended too fine for my liking and is too rich.
Then there is the Spaghettoni With Boston Lobster And Tarragon ($78, serves two), which is hard to resist. You get a whole lobster and it is so huge that it covers the plate, so the pasta beneath can hardly be seen. It can easily feed more than two people if you are sharing a pizza too, so the price is another draw. Taste-wise, it is better the second time I eat it, as there is a nice acidity in the sauce and the taste of tomato sauce is less strong. The other dishes are less striking. Crispy Calamari With Sumac And Sundried Tomato Aioli ($22) is not exactly crispy and the sumac comes across a little too timid. The Butter Roasted Golden Chicken With Grilled Corn Custard ($58, serves two) is well-executed, with an appealing aroma of rosemary wafting from the juicy chicken. The letdown is in the quality of the bird itself, because under the tasty skin, the meat is bland. I can imagine the same recipe working wonders with better-quality chicken elsewhere, but here, perhaps the chef should increase the marination time.
Desserts generally pass muster. Pick the Ricotta Cheese Castagnole With Moscato Sabayon ($15) if you do not have a sweet tooth. The deep- fried dough balls are filled with ricotta cheese and dusted with icing sugar. On their own, they taste dry, but dip them in the accompanying airy, smooth sabayon – made by whipping egg yolks, sugar and moscato together – and they are lovely. Amo is housed in two shophouse units, so there is plenty of space. There is even room at the back for an alfresco courtyard dining area which will open soon.
With the current heatwave, I’m staying put in the air-conditioned area though. I also like the ambience indoors, with its light industrial look of red-brick walls and metal-framed chairs. The lamps are interesting, especially the wall lights which cast a sunburst pattern on the bricks. If you are planning a business lunch or a romantic dinner, however, there is something you need to take note of. Because there are no soft surfaces to absorb the sound, the restaurant gets really noisy when it fills up. So you will have to raise your voice to be heard and all your intimate secrets will be shared with the next table.
This story first appeared on www.straitstimes.com
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