Jamie’s Italian

Elisa:

Ever since news came that Jamie Oliver will be opening his casual Italian restaurant here in Singapore, there has been an almost overwhelming and unbelievably crazy excitement and anticipation surrounding it. What made it particularly remarkable is the fact that it is the inaugural outlet in Asia, further justifying Singapore’s claim to be Asia’s food capital.
Jamie Oliver needs no introduction. I’ve been watching his cooking shows ever since I was a little girl, and it was his cooking shows actually that really got me into food. There’s something about that charisma – his bubbly personality, passion and enthusiasm – and the fact that he’s always whipping up the most rustic, fuss-free yet delicious cuisine that is accessible to us home cooks. It just keeps up coming back for more. And then there are his social enterprising project Fifteen and healthy eating campaigns such as the Food Revolution series that has further catapulted Jamie Oliver to be a household name.
Jamie’s Italian was conceptualized with mentor Gennaro Contaldo just four years ago in Oxford. It is a restaurant that aims to feature the passionate and sociable attitude of rustic Italian cuisine. then, it has spawned a successful chain of 30 outlets worldwide, and there are already plans for even more in the world.
Jamie’s Italian has been on my TO GO list ever since its opening in July. However, there has been snaking long queues and crowds of enthusiastic fans ever since and reservations have been hard to get (they next available table is next month). We were hoping that the hype would die down soon – like how it usually does with every new eatery – but apparently it never did. We were lucky to get a table today (Instead of us, the customers, choosing the date, we had the waiter tell us what dates were available :p)
Upon entering, the décor shouts Jamie Oliver immediately. It plays up warm and rustic vibes – timber wooden table and chairs, and dim lights from copper lamps overhead; and then there are crimson cushion seats and classy chandeliers. It is pretty much this glam casualness that assures the boisterous crowd a laid-back setting with good food and great company.
The extensive menu features fresh, locally and sustainably sourced produce. Nothing fancy, just rustic, yet bold flavours.
Crab & Avocado Bruschetta ($14.50): Sourdough topped with Devonshire crab, avocado & Yeo Valley yoghurt, with apple, chilli, mint & lemon. I kinda love how it isn’t divided into portions? Just one piece of sourdough to share, giving it such a rustic presentation and making it an excellent conversation starter. I also love how the bread isn’t too thick – thick enough to hold all your toppings, yet thin enough such that it can actually fit inside your mouth.
Pumpkin Bruschetta. This was one of the specials of the day. But I actually liked the previous bruschetta better. Mashed pumpkin and yogurt doesn’t taste so much appetizing as fresh crab and crunchy apple.
(I’m sorry I had forgotten to take pictures of the Bruschetta as we were too hungry and dived into the food immediately when it was served :()
Given that the restaurant prides itself in making their pasta every morning and grow their own herbs in the garden in the al-fresco section of the restaurant, we knew we could not leave Jamie’s Italian without trying their pastas. Diners can chose to order the smaller appetizer portion, or the bigger main course portion.
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Crab Spaghettini ($12.50/$19.00): Tomato, garlic & basil sauce with chilli & crunchy breadcrumbs. We ordered the small portion pastas as we wanted to try as many items on the menu as we can. The dish was certainly homey, classic, but nothing over the top. The pasta was cooked perfectly – al dente – and had a springyness with each bite. I like how the crunchy breadcrumbs gave an important texture contrast.
photo 3
Black Angel Spaghetti ($16.00/$24.50): Squid ink pasta, scallops, garlic, chilli, anchovies, wine & capers. There was a slight sourish aftertaste, maybe the anchovies and capers? I’m not sure. But again nothing fancy, just perfectly cooked pasta and scallops.
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Simple Baked Lasagna ($24.00): Slow-cooked beef & pork with roasted squash, herbs & wine in a creamy white sauce with tomato, mozzarella & parmesan. Ok, just ignored the picture because you can’t actually discern anything out of it (sorry for the best photography skills :() I love lasagnas simply because of the creamy cheese and sauce that’s luscious and satisfying enough, but not too overly cloying. What makes this even better is the squash which adds that extra creamy texture and sweetness to the dish. The meat seemed to be almost overshadowed, forgotten, as I devoured every last bit of creamy ingredient.
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Wild Truffle Risotto ($16.00/$24.50): Finely minced black truffle with butter & parmesan. Risotto is a comforting and hearty dish. We were actually surprised to learn that the rice was not cooked in stock or cream, but instead just salt water, finished with butter and parmesan shavings. It is not wonder that there was just the right amount of creaminess to support the plump and fluffy al-dente rice. Also, cooking it just in salt water allowed the black truffle flavor and scent to fully permeate through the risotto undisturbed. Risotto’s as simple as it gets, but making fantastic risotto is a long and lengthy process, and extremely nerve-wrecking because you wouldn’t want to serve undercooked, or soft rice; you want al-dente rice.
Overall, Jamie’s Italian is not a posh, fine-dining restaurant, despite expectations naturally developed and raised with this household name. Instead it is a casual eatery for friends and families to come together and enjoy homely Italian classics in a comfortable and joyful environment. We’ll definitely be back for more of the mains and the plank appetisers! One complain though is that the food was not served piping hot. They were only slightly warm. Probably because they had been sitting out at the counter for too long and there were just too many orders…
Service was excellent. Extremely knowledgeable, polite, friendly and efficient. Waiters and waitresses frequently topped up glasses, changed plates, and checked on customers to gather feedback. They’re full of energy as well, almost as if Jamie Oliver’s liveliness and vigor have penetrated into this restaurant.
I definitely highly recommend reservations. However even if you’re unable to settle one, there are the bar areas and counters for walk-in guests. Also, given that it is a sufficiently spacious 250-seater restaurant, casual and fuss-free, the turnover rate is relatively fast and I’m pretty sure that you won’t have to wait for long to get a table.
Jamie’s Italian
1 HarbourFront Walk
VivoCity, #1 165-167

Singapore 098585
Tel: +65 67335500
http://www.jamieoliver.com/italian/singapore/home
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