This is only our second visit to La Strada, the first being for lunch a year and a half ago. One of the reasons we’ve refrained from going back was the perhaps erroneous assumption that it was a formal, chi-chi place, but they must have revamped somewhat because on Friday night it was decidedly unintimidating, with one guy even dressed in cargo shorts and slippers.
Alas, as part of that revamp I think they streamlined the menu. This should teach me to wait ages before trying out a restaurant that I’ve had my eye on. A while back, I read a few articles on some “new” offerings at La Strada, including an Italian sausage risotto and an octopus pasta. I hoped to order them tonight but both were no longer on the menu. Sigh.
I was craving a risotto, and they only have one on the menu – Risotto of the Day, done all’onda style. I googled before coming here, and found that “all’onda” means “the wave”, and it refers to that oozing, flowing movement that a good risotto should have. Not so soupy that it sloshes around, and not so thick that it just stays put when you tip the plate. That, combined with the fact that it takes about 20 minutes to prepare, definitely bode well.
The Risotto for the day was parmesan and saffron. That’s it, with no other ingredient. A plate of pure carbs… Gulp. Still, I had my heart set on risotto so that’s what I had to have. It didn’t disappoint. Yes, I would’ve liked some form of ingredient in it, to break the monotony somewhat – mushroom, sausage, anything. But taste and texture wise, I couldn't fault it. The rice was al dente, it was indeed perfectly oozy, and the flavours were really intense.
One of their specials is the mud-crab tagliolini, and we decided to share it as a starter. The tagliolini is hand made and had a good bite to it, and the dish was prepared aglio olio style with nice clean flavours. This wasn’t bad, but quite forgettable once the risotto arrived.
A decided to have the Chilean sea bass, which turned out to be rolled with pancetta. Again, not too bad but it doesn’t come close to Ember’s standard of fish preparation.
The risotto clearly hadn’t settled in my stomach yet, because we felt that we could manage desserts. I had the salted chocolate mousse cake served with orange sorbet, and A had a special dessert platter, with tasting portions of a chocolate tart, tiramisu and earl grey sorbet.
My cake turned out to be like a Le Royale (from Canele), with interesting moments of salted caramel in some mouthfuls. I didn’t like the crust of A’s chocolate tart – it seemed like they just poured chocolate ganache into store-bought tart shells. The filling wasn’t too bad though. I absolutely loved the earl grey sorbet, and wished that my cake came with that instead of the orange.
The limited menu here means there’s a limit to how often I can come, and how much risotto I can eat with a clear conscience. Now that it’s a lot more casual than we initially thought, it’s a pretty decent Friday night option since advance reservations don't seem to be essential.
It’s not something I’d rave about; nothing fantastic, but still a nice, friendly place to have a decent meal. In fact, I’d describe everything on the menu as good, but having a “but” to it.
The mud-crab tagliolini was pretty good but I was put off because it still had some shell in it.
C’s risotto was very good, but a whole plate of it would just be jelak.
My Chilean sea bass was good, but nothing that will have me coming back.
Highlight of the meal – the awesome sherbets included in the desserts. You should definitely save space for the dessert here. And the desserts aren’t small so I recommend sharing (but then you’ll end up fighting for the sherbet... hmmm...)
Overall, I think unless we’re really craving Italian in the area, I’d rather go to the Canteen (which has a new menu with some awesome waffles).
1 Scotts Road
#02-10/11 Shaw Centre
Lunch: 11.30 am to 2.30 pm
Dinner: 6.30 pm to 9.30 pm