Review: Zafferano

Review: Zafferano

An honest and inspired menu of contemporary Italian fare overlooking Singapore's scenic Marina Bay area

It takes a very confident chef to take on Zafferano. This Italian restaurant, perched on the 43rd floor overlooking Marina Bay, is not only a well-established name in Singapore, but has also seen a string of head chefs over its years of opening. But, as I took my first bite into the Scampi of Mozambique langoustine swimming in a caramelised white miso sauce infused with bagna cauda (pink garlic from southern France), it was evident this was a role made for head chef Andre De Paolo.

Zafferano interiors. Photo: Zafferano

The Italian - born in Milan, raised in Naples - is no stranger to Singapore’s dining scene. Having arrived on our shores back in 2013 to broaden his culinary career, he has been cutting his teeth at the iLido Group, most prominently and recently as the chef de cuisine of fine dining spot, Braci. In between of which, he even found time to be shortlisted as a finalist in the South-east Asia leg of San Pellegrino Young Chef 2018. Throw in the fact that he’s only turning 29 this year and you can see why Zafferano has got themselves quite the talent helming the kitchen.

Carciofo. Photo: Zafferano

Andre presents a two-page a la carte menu, split into Starters, Pastas & Risottos, Mains and From The Grill. The dinner table enjoyed key recommendations that struck the right chords. The beautifully roasted Italian sea bass, fished off the Sardianian coast, in the Branzino was complemented by a moreish tarragon salmoriglio (an buttery yet tangy sauce from south Italy), while the sweet spice of Caciocavallo cheese is delicately balanced with the savory and herbaceous notes of the Yamanashi egg yolk smoked with rosemary, thyme and applewood as well as an artichoke that’s spent ample time in a poaching liquid of white wine, vegetable stock and garlic and slathered with an appetite whetting pickled pesto in the Carciofo.

Spaghetti with razor clams, ‘oscietra’ caviar and bergamot scent - a Zaferrano signature. Photo: Zafferano

Another non-negotiable staple is the Spaghetti ($30 as starter; $42 as main). Served with a trio of flavoursome sauces - smoky charcoal, lobster and dill -, razor clams done two ways, velouté and finished in a charcoal oven, and gleaming gems of oscietra caviar, the best (and only) way to savour this dish is to give it a healthy toss and wipe the plate clean with your side of bread. The aforementioned Scampi aside, there is no passing up on the Manzo. A stunning example of Andre’s expert command of the charcoal grill, the prime ‘Sanchoku’ wagyu beef striploin, was presented as a perfect medium rare. What stands out is the trifecta of accompaniments; a wasabi jus, herb oil and a black garlic puree with its signature syrupy and balsamic vinegar-like flavours. A rather dreamy match with the sommelier recommended Shiraz from boutique winery, Passel Estate in Margaret River.

As I wipe off the last of my Cioccolato, a chocolate dessert with Diplomatico sabayon, I daresay, my nonna alter ego is very much appeased.

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