SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - Publico Ristorante at InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay prides itself as a neighbourhood restaurant.
Though, of course, this is a neighbourhood with many expensive homes and fancy distractions.
Do not expect it to be like a kopitiam, except in the liveliness.
If you have eaten at casual restaurants in Italy, you will know what I mean. The vibrancy is contagious. You will end up laughing and talking louder than usual, high from the energy.
Publico Ristorante - not to be mistaken with the all-day Publico Deli, its sister outlet at the other end of the hotel - offers Italian dishes at friendly (for the neighbourhood) prices.
One big star is the Tartufata pizza ($24) that has mozzarella, porcini mushroom, smoked scamorza and truffle. The aroma is inviting and it is a sight to behold. The bold umami cheesy flavours win me over.
This is a great dish for sharing.
Another dish I like is the calamari and cauliflower fritti with lemon and caper aioli dip ($16).
Again, the boldness of the flavours draw me to the dish.
It is on the right side of salty, with enough crunch and chewiness to keep it interesting.
There is a whole lot of lobster meat, so it is worth it, although I could never appreciate any lobster that is covered in a robust sauce. I prefer the flesh plain.
Still, it does Italy proud with a plate of delectable al dente pasta.
The tomatoes, chilli, garlic, basil, red onions and extra virgin olive oil bruschetta ($13) is beautiful to look at.
The colours are vibrant and it makes you instantly hungry.
While this is probably one of the simplest dishes, all the elements work together. The bite is slightly salty, sharp, tangy and really whets the appetite.
The bistecca beef steak, with herb butter, rosemary roasted potatoes and marinated tomato salad ($39), is a classic Tuscan dish and foodies swear by the steaks from that region.
The version here is made well, seasoned and tender enough, but it is not especially exciting.
InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay
1 Nanson Road
Open: Mondays to Thursdays, 4 to 11pm; Fridays, 4pm to midnight; Saturdays, 1pm to midnight; Sundays, 11am to 11pm