Sunday, January 16, 2011

Donna Carmela

C says:

This branch of Donna Carmela is just a 5 minute walk from our new place, but it’s taken us more than a month of driving by every day on the way home saying “we should really try it one day”, before we made a concerted effort on a quiet, plan-less Sunday evening.

Whenever we pass by, the restaurant isn’t ever empty but it’s never packed to the gills either, and Sunday night was no exception. There were a few tables outdoors enjoying the breeze with a few bottles of wine, and a few more heat-allergic patrons comfortably seeking cool comfort indoors.

At first glance, their menu seems pretty overwhelming, with pages and pages of pastas. But on more careful examination, you realise that the pastas are grouped according to pasta type – “Linguine”, “Tagliatelle”, “Penne”, etc – and for the most part there are many overlaps in the array of sauces. I’m still trying to figure out if this is the best way to present, or whether presenting it by sauce would be a better bet.

What was slightly disappointing is that with so many choices on the menu, after poring over them and deciding what we wanted, some of our choices weren’t available. In which case, isn’t it better to have a more streamlined menu, then ensure that everything on it is available?

Anyway, since they were out of the octopus carpaccio, we ordered the burrata instead, which came with a sizeable amount of salad and cherry tomatoes. Of course, comparisons to the Valentino burrata were inevitable, and the conclusion? Well, it’s one thing to have good produce, but I think where Valentino really shines is that they know how to bring out the best in the produce. While the quality of the burrata here was very good – rich and creamy inside, the dish lacked any form of seasoning. I had to drizzle olive oil over it and sprinkled salt and black pepper to season it, to bring out all the flavours.

A ordered the crab and lobster ravioli with a salmon cream sauce and caviar. This looked rather plain but it was delicious, with the ravioli full of shellfish and going perfectly with the salmon cream sauce.

I ordered the tagliatelle, Donna Carmela-style, which was Italian sausage with a tomato cream sauce. Another interesting aspect of this place is that you can opt for your pasta to be cooked either al dente, or tender. I opted for al dente cos I hate mushy pasta, but maybe their concept of al dente may be different from my expectations. The pasta was just a tad on the wrong end of firm, for my liking. The sauce was strangely almost Asian, with chilli padi and an Asian flavour that I just couldn’t put my finger on.

For dessert, I just had a scoop of gelato, but A decided to try the tiramisu roll. This was pretty dense and, given that they initially said they ran out but eventually located a portion, probably wasn’t the freshest.

All in all, some hits and misses, but a good option to have at our doorstep. Their raviolis seem to be good so we’ll try more of those, and give their pizzas a go too.

A says:

I was craving a bit of crab and while I was dubious over the quality of a crab and lobster stuffed ravioli, I loved it.

That turned out to be the highlight of our meal. I think we’ll have to try the pizza to give a well-rounded review of its capabilities as an Italian place. And given the enormous scope of the menu (although the majority is really probably just different pastas and sauces) we’ll have lots to try.

Service unfortunately was hit and miss. It alternated between having attention lavished on us, or the staff completely ignoring us.

This may be a default simple weekend dinner place for us, but I probably wouldn’t recommend it if you want a mind-blowing meal.

Donna Carmela
242 Pasir Panjang Road
Tel: 6476-3242
Lunch: 12 noon to 2.30 pm
Dinner: 6.30 pm to 10.30 pm

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