very good italian family-style trattoria in the food wonder that is katong. we’ve gotten in the habit of prowling katong hunting for new restaurants to try post-dinner, which is how we happened upon bruno’s – and it was a good thing we did.
the food is great – good ingredients, large portions, strong flavors – and the atmosphere of the place is as lovely as you’d want: there’s a certain coziness that comes with the patronage of clearly-regular customers who banter with wait staff and rambunctious children that properly create that rather indescribable something that makes an italian establishment.
nothing fancy here, so don’t worry about poncy posh fine-dining. we’re talking italian the way its meant to be – large portions, the option of using your hands, and none of that tweensy plated artpieces that never fill you up.
it’s a pretty standard menu, but it clearly works for them – we started off with soup:
a zuppa ai funghi for the sis (pretty run-of-the-mill mushroom), and a lobster bisque for dad. that orange soup was decent, but could have been much improved with further reduction. as was, it felt a little diluted and watery, though at least the flavour was strong enough to be inoffensive.
I must say though, that I was very impressed with that large prawn above – even if we might have expected a slip of lobster instead (seeing as how that’s the eponymous crustacean).
we then had starters to share, which brought fruitti di mare fritto to the table – anaemically-fried prawns and squid, but decently seasoned and served with a good tomato-ey salsa – though seriously, the highlight of the meal was the plate of mussels that came after.
I can’t quite remember if this was off-the-menu or a daily special, but heck, ask for it anyway. simply cooked in white wine with a lot of garlic and just a smidgen of tomato and onions, the mussels were large but plump (usually only applicable to tiny mussels), incredibly juicy, and beautiful-tasting. the sauce was also well-soppable with the bread (which I forgot to mention isn’t really great on its own for being slightly stale-tasting and bland, but it sure served its purpose here).
so it was just as well that the mains came out well – because we were completely stoked after that dish. linguine al granchio crema was a cream-enriched crab pasta swirled about a ball of al dente noodles – delicious, but also incredibly filling. also rather one-dimensional in texture and flavor – which made it slightly cloying toward the end. kudos for the generous serving of crab meat, but I think we might have been better served with this in a smaller portion (though you could plame it on us ordering quite a bit too much).
I liked the tagliolini neri con gamberi a little better, black squid-inked noodles cooked in tomato sauce with seafood. it was lighter in flavor, chockful of bouncy (almost a little bouncy – which may suggest the use of alkaline treatment) seafood – more varied in texture and flavor. I think it was also just as well we didn’t opt for black ink in the sauce – it would have been too rich.
the bistecca alla griglia was a well-cooked piece of beef – pink in the middle and char-marked outside, just the way I like it. it was also accompanied by a pretty impressive spread of sides: home-fried potato cubes, a green balsamic-tossed salad and some asparagus wrapped in bacon – all in all a pretty decent dish.
it was also a tad fatty because it was the rib-eye, but there’s an option of a slightly-smaller piece of tenderloin for the same price, if you’re so inclined (which I am).
and, we finished with a pizza. it was really a crazy feast of food on our table for only five people – but we couldn’t ignore the lovely and very-enticing smells emanating from their oven (nor could we overlook those rather perfect looking rounds going out to the other tables). it took a bit of time to arrive (they forgot our order), but pretty well-worth the wait: an airy crust piled high with pepperoni (?) and cheese, and which went fantastically rolled up with a heavy-handed pinch of chilli.
that was a lot of food – and makes me really full just thinking about it. it was also a really good meal – not inexpensive, but competitively-priced (and likely a good deal considering the portions), the wait staff kept the food coming and our glasses filled, and I really enjoyed how family-friendly it was.
great for informal, belly-busting dinners – a fantastic find.
Bruno’s Pizzeria & Grill
338 Tanjong Katong Rd
tel +65 6440 4525
$$: two appetisers + two soups + two pastas + one pizza + one steak = five incredibly-full people = two-zero-zero(ish)