Friday, December 28, 2007

Pete’s Place

C says:

Finally, we can cross Pete’s Place off our To-Eat list. For some reason we’ve always been meaning to try it, given its reputation as somewhat of an Italian institution here in Singapore. Friday being A’s birthday, we decided it was as good a reason as any to give it a go.

To be honest, we were slightly underwhelmed. I think its reputation is due to a variety of factors – being located in a swanky hotel on Orchard Road, being slightly gimmicky with the checked tablecloths and brick walls giving it a forced casual Italian trattoria air, and the fact that it probably gained its reputation in a time where good pizzas and pastas were less commonplace in Singapore than they are now.

I think the best thing it has going for it is the bread table. You get a free-flow of really good breads, ranging from dinner rolls to ciabatta to an amazing sun-dried tomato foccacia which was delightfully soft and fluffy. There’s also a selection of 3 butters – sun-dried tomato, herb and plain salted butter. I’m a bit of butter purist; while I like flavoured butters for marinating and roasting meats, give me good quality plain salted butter anytime for my breads, and I must say the salted butter here was really addictive.

Our Caprese salad starter was pretty ordinary. Decent tomatoes, decent mozzarella, and an ok rocket salad. None of the components were remarkable, both on their own and as a combination.

The mains fared slightly better; or rather, mine did. A ordered their Pizza Pam Pam, which is apparently their house special. It was described in the menu as half a calzone filled with 3 cheeses, and half a pizza topped with sausage, garlic and chillis. We therefore expected exactly that – half a calzone, and half a pizza. Instead, it was actually a standard semi-circlular stuffed calzone, which then became the base of the pizza. As a result it was slightly on the heavy side, and not particularly outstanding as either a pizza or a calzone.

Luckily my main was good enough to make up for it somewhat. I ordered an Italian pork sausage risotto – ironically it was the daily special so we can't even go back expecting to order it again. The risotto had a pretty good texture, and wasn’t too rich or heavy. I expected the pork sausage to be in minced sausage meat form, or perhaps slices of a chorizo type sausage; instead, the risotto was topped with 3 large cross sectional discs of a rather large Italian sausage. The sausage was superb – I’ll be honest and shameless and just say that I enjoyed it so much because it tasted like really good quality Spam. Serious. I enjoyed every bite of it and I think even non-risotto fan A preferred this to his Pam Pam.

The desserts were again a bit hit-and-miss. My dessert again suffered from a slight mis-description. I think it was described as a chocolate cream with amaretto crust and whipped cream – it was actually a glorified chocolate creme caramel, and I only discovered the amaretto crust during my last few bites, as it was almost non-existent, and ended up all but dissolved in the sauce.

A’s tiramisu was much better. I dare say that this is second only to Perla’s tiramisu at Valentino’s. The mascarpone cheese was creamy and rich yet still light, the sponge still had some texture and wasn’t over-soaked to within an inch of its life, and most importantly (for A, anyway), it had a strong coffee flavour but not so much alcohol.

Well, I’m glad we tried it, but I don’t think we’ll be going back. If I wanted Italian, I would go to Valentino’s any day, or if I didn’t have the luxury of a week’s notice, then at least Pasta Brava.

A says:

Let’s not forget that it was one of the first Italian restaurants in Singapore.

Anyway, bread and tiramisu were great – definitely amongst the best in Singapore. Coffee was also good. Not much to shout about for the rest.

So my verdict is that it’s worth going if you’re in town and suddenly feel hungry for Italian. But I wouldn’t make it a real destination joint. Valentino’s and Pasta Brava are way better.

Pete’s Place
Basement, Grand Hyatt Singapore
10 Scotts Road
Tel: 6732-1234
Lunch: 12 noon to 2.30 pm
Dinner: 6 pm to 10.30 pm

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