The Place A sexy, Italian restaurant. My first thought as I entered Bar Cicheti along Jian Chuan Road, the sister restaurant of Cicheti at Kandahar Street. The layout of the shophouse restaurant reminds me of a tunnel, defined by two arches over the ceiling with the open kitchen at the back. The vibe is lovely on a Friday evening, where even the few tables outdoor at the entrance is full.
I was glad I made a reservation few days before, and was allocated a side table at the back in our little private corner. Jiak Chuan Road has never been that exciting for me for a long while.
The Food Pastas. The main focus of Bar Cicheti are the pastas, and it is quite evident from its one page menu. Split into Antipasti and Pasta, the selections are diverse and do consult the staff on daily specials off the menu if you need to feel more special. For drinks, fret not as the wine list is quite comprehensive.
For a start, we were served some complimentary sourdough bread with ricotta cheese. I’m quite used to having bread and butter but the use of ricotta is refreshing for me at least.
The meal started proper with the Salvia Fritta (S$8). The seemingly simply dish is fried sage leaves with maldon salt, a dish which our friend shared that she had in her Airbnb apartment in Italy prepared by her host. Indeed, I have not had something like this in Singapore before. The batter on the leaves is somewhat like a Japanese inspired tempura for me. This is lovely.
As if one fried dish ain’t enough, the Zucchine Fritti (S$9) caught my eyes too. Seasoned with sea salt, these fries are amazingly addictive. I like how thinly sliced and light the texture is, which makes it dangerously addictive. You won’t be able to stop and I highly recommend this snack.
The best antipasti for us though, is the Burratina (S$25). For the price, it is fairly steep for a starter with a pretty straightforward presentation. Served with grilled sourdough, the best part of this dish is definitely the burnt onion jam on the bread. Break the burratina and spread it on the toast, the taste has this nice contrast between the cheese and onion flavours. As it turns out, I enjoyed the depth in the overall flavour combination here.
After a stellar start with the antipasti, the three pastas we ordered were served simultaneously. All the pastas come in two prices for small or large, though I recommend going for the small portions just so you have space to try more varieties. The Pappardelle (S$15/small) comes in an interesting green hue, which gets its colour from spinach. Topped with ragu bolognese and aged parmesan, the spinach pasta on its own may not have much of a flavour but the overall combination with the ragu sauce and tinge of parmesan work magic. The texture of the thinly sliced sheets here is quite soft, which may not work if you prefer a more al dente bite.
Conversely, the Rigatoni Arrabbiata (S$12/small) is quite the al dente option. We opted to add Stracciatella (additional S$3) to the pasta, tossed with homemade tomato sauce, basil and chilli. The pasta on its own has a homecoming, comforting flavour, which may on the flip side also come across as pedestrian. It would have been better if the chilli element is stepped up, which is prominently missing for me.
The best pasta we had, after some talk about the dishes we had, is the Fusilli Nero (S$15/small). It is essentially a squid ink pasta tossed with Japanese sea urchin, basil and anchovy crumbs. The flavours here is the most complex of the three pastas we tried, and we enjoyed the crunchy bits of the crumbs and the fine balance of the sea urchin flavour at play with the squid ink taste.
Dessert options are limited and there are no fancy tricks here with only three options. We opted for the Bittersweet Chocolate Budino Torte (S$15), which is a rich chocolate tart. The intense chocolate flavour is also intertwined with hints of olive oil and sea salt, served along with some bits of spicy puffed grains to balance the richness of the chocolate here.
Of course, there’s always the Traditional Tiramisu (S$14) to go for if you live by traditions. There’s nothing surprising here, just a good slice of good old Italian dessert to conclude the wonderful meal.
Rants The space is quite narrow and there’s not much room to move around freely or stretch your legs if needed.
Will I Return Again? Bar Cicheti is charming is many ways. It has that fun, causal yet welcomed vibe which is lacking in Singapore. The food is great in general, with reasonable prices for the precinct. This is definitely one of the new restaurants this year which left an impression on me, and I can’t wait to return as I bet there’s still room for surprise.
Taste bud: 4/5
Hole in the pocket: 3.5/5
Overall Experience: 4/5
10 Jiak Chuan Road
Tel: +65 6789 9801
Tuesday to Saturday: 12 to 2:30pm; 6 to 10:30pm
Closed on Sunday & Monday
Ranted by The Ranter