Maxwell Chambers at Tanjong Pagar, just down the road from Red Dot Museum, doesn't seem to have very good food feng shui. The last 2 tenants didn't last very long - Osvaldo, and later L'Angolo.
The guys behind Otto are probably hoping that their casual offering, Otto Locanda, can break the curse. Unlike its fine dining sibling down the road, Otto Locanda offers a more trattoria style dining experience, with a stripped down menu of basic Italian staples.
The place was rather worryingly only half full on Friday night, though the waiter assured us that they tend to be more popular for lunch.
In addition to their menu items, they have daily specials scribbled on blackboards, which is helpful so that we aren't at the mercy of any particular waiter's memory. We had the bruschetta special - Italian sausage with gorgonzola. This was pretty good; the sausage was slightly sweet so it paired with the gorgonzola quite well, though I would have liked the blue cheese flavour to be a bit more aggressive.
The salt cod quenelles with croutons was disappointing. The only discernible flavour was, unbelievably, the olive oil. It was underseasoned, and didn't taste at all like bacalao. I'm not even sure how they achieved that, given how strong the flavour of bacalao usually is.
We were toying between one of their specialty flatbreads, or the deep fried Panzerottini, but we decided on the latter since we'd already ordered the bruschetta. Big mistake. The Panzerottini, which are a bit like empanadas, were filled with anchovy, tomato and cheese. One bite and all I could think of was, "Malay sardine curry puff".
But then the main course arrived and saved the meal from being doomed to mediocrity. The spaghetti vongole looked ordinary enough, but the spaghetti had absorbed all the lovely clam juices and white wine. Plus they were very generous with the clams, which were very fresh, sweet and meaty.
With all the carbs, we really couldn't fit in any dessert. Service was very good - efficient and very polite. Most of the meal was a bit lacklustre, but there were gems like the pasta, and the bruschetta had potential. Maybe we just need to order more of the right things.
Service, just like Otto, was great. Unfortunately, the only standout dish was the perfectly cooked spaghetti. I do want to come back to try their special Focaccina though. Will do a final review after that.
32 Maxwell Road
#01-03 Maxwell Chambers
Lunch: Mon to Fri 11.30 am – 2 pm
Dinner: Mon to Sat 6 pm – 10 pm