After two fine-dining restaurants, Osvaldo Forlino has decided to focus on homestyle Italian cuisine. But while his No Menu eatery at 23 Boon Tat Street is family run, it is by no means a casual family restaurant. The prices are near fine-dining levels with some mains close to S$50. We ponied up S$98 each for the Degustation Menu that would allow us to have tasting portions of the chef’s signature items.
For starters, a small amuse bouche of mortadella ham on toast followed by the cold mix antipasti.
Clockwise from top left: Insalata Caprese – Sicilian cherry tomato with bufala mozzarella cheese, topped with oregano, pepper, olive oil and basil. Prosciutto Parma Ham with rock melon Bruschetta – toast with diced tomatoes, onions and basil Russian Salad – egg and potato salad with carrots and peas, topped with Coppa Ham made from pork neck
There isn’t much cooking here, more of an assembly, so the quality of the ingredients are critical in making the antipasti shine. Fortunately, they are excellent.
We didn’t like the bread (background) though. Normally I love rustic breads, but this one tasted like some rye flour had gone funky. Perhaps that is the way it is meant to be, and my palate isn’t used to it. Anyway, the wait staff seemed to overhear us commenting on the bread, and changed a fresh plate for us. But it was still the same kind of bread.
Next up, two hot antipasti.
Poached mussles and prawns with homemade portofino sauce, served on a bed of mashed potato mousse. It was the delicious mash that stood out here, although the seafood was certainly fresh and the potent portofino sauce helped make the above-mentioned breads more palatable.
The trio of pasta courses were next.
Clockwise from top left: Green asparagus and parmagiana risotto Homemade veal agnolotti tossed with veal jus Homemade tagliatelle tossed with lamb ragout
The risotto was light and refreshing with the asparagus contributing a springy crunch. The agnolotti were hearty little bites. But the tagliatelle pasta was marvellous – piping hot and yet al dente. However, the hearty lamb ragout might be too pungent for some (it certainly was for my dining partner). I reckon it was due more to something in the sauce than the gamey scent.
For the main course, you get to pick either a meat or seafood dish. We had one of each, and were a little taken by surprise when the T-bone steak we had asked for turned out to be a pork cutlet. That’s thanks to miscommunication with the waitress who later clarified the steak is part of the daily special, not the degustation. It’s always hard to remember details when the wait staff rattle off a list of dishes with elaborate titles. No Menu needs more menus.
This is my pan-seared wild red snapper with Caponata vegetables (I see aubergines, olives and sun-dried tomatoes). The fish was not bad, and the vegetables were very savoury.
My dining partner took one bite from his meat dish and promptly sent it back (I did not even have a chance to take a photo of it). “That’s not pork. It tastes like some economy rice omelette!” he recoiled in disgust. It did look like a thin spongy slice to me. Although he is not a fish fan, he settled for the snapper instead when they offered to replace the meat.
Forlino’s wife chef Patrizia Barabino came out to investigate. Wide-eyed with large spectacles and gray hair, she looks like someone’s feisty grandmother. She showed grave concern that we were not happy with the dish, and said perhaps it is our first time, and we are not familiar with what they do, so inevitably some dish may not be to our liking.
When she brought us our trio of desserts (the final course), she carefully explained each element. The apple cake (top centre) she bakes fresh daily. The Gianduja (bottom left) is a chocolate from their hometown Piedmont, paired with sweet mascarpone and crocante. And on the bottom right, meringue – delightfully light and not too sweet. The desserts were excellent, but still a tad too sweet for me.
And then Patrizia came out with what was the best dish of the evening – The Chocolate Truffle.
Zabajone coated with frozen chocolate ice-cream. Finally we had our Oh-My-God-Mmmmoment. Patrizia had achieved her goal, “I must see you smile before you leave.”
Service recovery well done indeed.
NO MENU 21/23 Boon Tat Street Singapore 069621 Tel: +65 6224-0091 Open Mondays to Fridays 11.30am to 2pm; 6pm to 10pm (with second seating for dinner at 8.30pm) and dinner on Saturdays Closed Sundays, Public Holidays and Saturday lunch
Note: No Menu has a new sister restaurant called Amarone at Capital Tower (168 Robinson Road, #01-08/09/10, Singapore 068912, tel: +65 6423-0464).