casa tartufo, duxton hill

meh-er than I expected italian restaurant specialising in tantalizing truffles (it’s in their name) at a little corner near club street. I’ve walked past this place numerous times after dinner in duxton hill or keong saik, and it’s always looked like a romantic (read darkly-lit), cosy, little place to eat.

the food doesn’t quite live up to expectations, however – and those expectations are bolstered first by its focus on truffle (which really, can do no wrong) and the very lovely ambiance of the place.

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they actually started us off with two carbs – a basket of warmed foccacia, with crusty tops and a soft, airy inside, and a plate of fried pasta (?), crisped up to an almost puff-pastry state.

it wasn’t too long a wait before our first starter arrived – and of course it needs to be cheese, right? I might actually veer to the italian way of treating cheese as appetiser rather than as dessert (whereas I warm up to the french way of butter and bread) – a large-ish bowl of soft, creamy burrata with nestled atop salad leaves with a heart of truffle. this was rather delicious, but needed a little bit of salt for better flavor.

I did find that almost all the dishes needed more salt – but it could be a matter of personal preference, and perhaps my tastebuds are growing muted with age – and it’s undeniable that under-salted is better than over-salted.

anyway, this was a pretty standard angus beef carpaccio, thinly sliced and layered over with some rocket leaves and shaved truffles. nothing more, nothing less – salt will help draw out more flavor.

we also ordered this incredibly overpriced dish of tender white asparagus, served with parma ham and a teaspoon-worth of caviar. while it was pretty decent – it’s very difficult to go wrong with those ingredients – there was barely any of the magic or WOW you would have expected. order if you have a craving for any of the components, but otherwise, I’m not sure it’s worth it.

a side of sauteed spinach was pretty good though – I liked that it wasn’t as oily as many vegetable dishes can be, but it sure was tannic.

the tajarin of thing egg noodles with truffle came sitting in a broth base that was surprisingly forgettable.

but possibly, the dish I enjoyed least was also the one I expected to enjoy the most: the sea urchin risotto with truffle. HOW COULD IT NOT BE GREAT?! but it wasn’t – not really creamy enough, already lukewarmish when it arrived at the table, and the flavor just didn’t come through. we did not finish this dish.

I don’t want to be dramatic – but there’s nothing in this place that would really warrant a return. it’s hella disappointing, given it’s focus on an ingredient that’s currently earning universal love – but that could also work to its disadvantage, creating expectations that it doesn’t really address. it’s biggest advantage: the darkly-lit restaurant, the polite staff, and the well-spaced tables.

good for date night, if you want to enjoy your night with food that fades easily into the background.

Casa Tartufo
33 Erskine Road
Singapore 069333
tel +65 6836 4647
$$$: 40 onward

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