Palio, the Italian restaurant at Resorts World Sentosa, is gone. But there is no need for regret.
Another Italian restaurant, Fratelli, has taken over the space and it is much better.
Fratelli, which is Italian for "brothers", is opened by the resort, but helmed by Enrico and Roberto Cerea, second-generation chefs of the family-run, three-Michelin- starred Da Vittorio in Lombardy, Italy.
They came up with Fratelli's menu, which is executed by resident chef de cuisine Davide Bizzarri, who was also chef at the defunct Palio.
I ate at Palio years ago and was so disappointed with the nondescript cafe-standard cooking that I never returned.
FRATELLI - TRATTORIA AND PIZZERIA
Resorts World Sentosa, 8 Sentosa Gateway, tel: 6577-6688, open: Pizzeria - 7.30 to 10.30am, noon to 2.30pm, 6 to 10.30pm (Monday, Wednesday to Friday); 7.30am to 10.30pm (Saturday, Sunday and public holiday). Trattoria - 6 to 10.30pm (Wednesday to Monday). Both closed on Tuesday
Food: 3.5/5 stars
Service: 3.5/5 stars
Ambience: 3/5 stars
Price: Budget from $50 a person at Pizzeria, from $70 a person at Trattoria
Fratelli, however, leaves a much better impression. It's not my idea of Michelin-starred cooking, but it does some dishes pretty well.
The eatery is divided into two - a trattoria and a pizzeria - but they share an entrance. The trattoria is more upmarket, though not fine dining, while the pizzeria is much more casual and bigger.
The two are run as separate eateries with their own menu and billing, but it is also possible to order a couple of dishes from the adjoining eatery. I visited Fratelli twice, sitting in a different eatery each time.
The pizzeria is ideal for big groups or families with children as seating arrangements and the sprawling space allow for easy movement.
The trattoria is a little more formal with booth seats, private rooms and starched table linen. Go there if you are on a date or with business associates.
The pizzeria menu is simpler too, with a focus on pastas and, of course, pizzas.
I have tried one of each at dinner and both are pretty good.
The Hand Cut Pasta "Maltagliati" ($28), with housemade pork sausages "ciccioli", sauteed porcini mushrooms and Italian parsley, makes the cut with smooth sheets of pasta coated in a delicious sauce.
I would prefer the sausage meat to be seasoned with a more distinct flavour of aromatic herbs, but otherwise I have no complaints.
The Tartufo Pizza ($40), with a thin crust topped with Puglia's buffalo mozzarella cheese chunks, grated fontina cheese and black truffle shavings, will please fans of the aromatic fungus. The generous amount of truffle blankets the pizza and gives off an alluring fragrance.
But the flavour comes from the cheese, especially the fontina, which is rich and buttery. Mixed with the relatively bland mozzarella, it also tastes mild enough not to fight with the truffle.
For more refined cooking, I'd recommend the trattoria.
It has a good selection of pasta too and I'm totally charmed by the Homemade Raviolo ($36), which is filled with spinach and ricotta cheese and topped with a free- range egg yolk, emmental cheese and black truffle shavings.
Having two dishes in one meal with truffle is a bit of an overkill, but I do not regret ordering this because the pasta sheet is amazing. If it is any thinner and smoother, I would have thought it a wonton skin.
The egg yolk and cheese also make a delicious sauce for the raviolo, while the spinach and cheese filling is good, but not a standout.
If you are ordering the Spaghetti Alla Pescatora ($82), make sure you have a big appetite or are planning to share it. It is a huge serving, which helps to justify the price, and comes with the pasta buried under a mound of seafood.
The tomato sauce tastes fresh and not at all ketchupy. The seafood comprises lobster, scampi, prawns, scallops, mussels and clams that appear to be cooked separately and then tossed with the sauce briefly. Most of it is fresh and sweet, except for the mussels which are disappointingly tasteless.
The Maialino Confit ($42), slow-cooked Spanish suckling pig belly with grain mustard vinaigrette, scores with a succulent texture, not the overly soft meat that many Spanish restaurants offer. The crackling can be more crisp though.
The Merluzzo In Giallo ($46), pan-seared Atlantic cod fillet, is lifted to gastronomic heights by a Sicilian yellow tomato coulis and scarmoza cheese, tempered with saffron-scented potato foam. Saffron is the dominant flavour, but the sauce is rescued from the danger of monotony by a little lump of aromatic herb granita.
Sauces such as this are probably what help the Cerea brothers gain their stars back home.
Desserts are the weakest part of the menu here. The Tiramisu Moderno ($18) is a deconstructed tiramisu with the coffee relegated to the background. The result tastes largely of sweetened mascarpone cheese that, to me, is not an improvement on the original dessert.
I'm not impressed with the Baba Con Crema Chantilly ($20) either, which lacks a decent dose of good rum. Just sweet cream and berries are a bit boring.
I don't have a sweet tooth though, so these disappointments will not deter me from going back to Fratelli - preferably the trattoria, which has more refined dishes and is quieter than the pizzeria.
But if you do, you might want to take that into consideration.
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•The Sunday Times paid for its meals at the eateries reviewed here