The Place With one Michelin star under its belt, I was excited to check out Buona Terra, a fine-dining Italian restaurant helmed by Chef Denis Lucchi. Housed in a colonial building along Scotts Road right beside Ki-Sho, the space of Buona Terra is an intimate space with simple interior furnishings yet it still looks elegant. There is also one private room towards the end of the restaurant, which has already been around for eight years!
The Food The cuisine at Buona Terra takes hints from Northern Italy, and I was fortunate to be able to have its Summer Menu before the new Autumn Menu kicks in. For dinner, the Buona Terra Experience menu 5-course (from S$178++) is the recommended option, and there are slight tweaks to the dishes with the seasonality and availability of daily ingredients.
For a start, I am always happy to have some freshly baked Housemade breads & Italian Artisanal Butter. The bread basket is a delightful combination of Onion Foccacia, Dried Tomato Soft Roll and Sourdough, made with Italian Caputo flour which is regarded as the gold standard of Italian flour.
It is served along with extra virgin olive oil and Beppino Occelli butter. I usually pace myself with bread, but I couldn’t help but finished all three flavours of bread fairly quickly because it goes so well with the creamy and delicious Beppino Occelli butter.
Next up I had some snacks before the mains, which one of my favourite part of a fine-dining meal as it often offers a good glimpse to what to expect thereafter. The first snack I had was the Tomato Ball in a cocoa butter casing, which burst into a cold tomato gazpacho soup.
The second snack I popped was the Butter Cone with scallop tartare and caviar, a small yet savoury bite packed with robust flavours of the Hokkaido scallop tartare along with Calvisius Caviar.
The last snack I had was the Crispy Potato and Cod Fish Mousse, a remake of the Italian dish Baccalà Mantecato. This snack is interesting as the cod fish mousse is held firmly by the crispy potato roll along with chives and pickled onions, and to some extent it does remind me a little of a very elegant spring roll.
The Amuse Bouche up next turns out to be one of my favourite part of the meal due to its dramatic presentation.
Served in an open-faced eggshell, the Snail Ragù with Martini Sabayon is delicious. I love the creamy egg sabayon here, along with the bits of the French snail in sofrito sauce.
The first mains I had was the Beef Carpaccio with Porcini and Ovuli mushrooms. There are two of my favourite components in this dish, Wagyu beef and mushrooms. The Wagyu Sendai A5 sirloin retains most of its raw texture and the marbling is visible, along with the edges of the beef which is slightly charred as it is char-grilled over binchotan.
In terms of presentation, I like how all the ingredients are beautifully layered here, where the Wagyu ‘carpaccio’ is layered over the seared porcini and a herb sabayon and topped with raw slices of Ovuli mushrooms, micro greens and slivers of parmesean cheese. The tip of the iceberg is the shavings of French summer truffles and mushroom powder. I need to have this again.
The second mains was a fish dish, Sea Perch, Tomato, Mussels, Saffron and Artichoke. The combination of ingredients here and has strong Mediterranean vibes, where the Korean Blackthroat sea perch is char-grilled over binchotan. Served with braised artichoke, a tomato-based guazzetto broth, French bouchot musssels, marjoram, micro greens salad, sun-dried tomatoes, Taggiasca black olives from Liguria, Italy and house preserved lemon. The flavourful guazzetto broth complements the fresh flavour of the sea perch well.
An Italian meal is not complete with pasta, and the Tagliolini with Crab and Caviar is one of those which I can have over and over again. The tagliolini is made in-house and cooked to a slightly al dente texture, topped with Japanese hairy crab and Calvisius Tradition Royal caviar from Chef Denis’s home province of Brescia, Lombardy. There is a strong crab flavour overall, which stems from the crab stock in the sauce here. Overall, this is a pasta dish with a strong flavour profile which I enjoyed.
The fourth main course was the Squid Ink Acquerello Risotto and Red Prawn. Visually, it is a stunning plate from the juxtaposition of the black risotto and red prawn. Each grain of the risotto is beautifully coated with squid ink, and there is so much which goes into it. The risotto is prepared from a 7-year aged carnaroli rice from Acquerello, PIedmont and is cooked with fish stock, prawn bisque and brandy.
The long Carabinero prawn is char-grilled over binchotan, and the secret to enjoy the dish is to remove the insides of the head and mix it along with the risotto, which changes the taste profile completely and amazingly, more delicious.
The last mains I had was the Chargrilled Dry Aged Mieral Pigeon with Peaches, Pumpkin, Amaretto and Moscato Sauce. Served two ways, the pigeon from Mieral, France is dry aged for 10 days and there is the thigh and breast meat served here. The thigh is sous vide and seared with butter, while the pigeon breast is char-grilled over binchotan. The meats are served along with pumpkin purée and Italian peaches done three ways.
For Pre-Dessert, I had the Peaches and Granita, a combination of fresh Italian yellow peach, yellow peach granita and Sicilian green almonds.
Dessert is an elegant showcase of Pear and Ricotta Cheesecake. It is a refreshing way to conclude the meal, which uses premium Italian ricotta from Artigiana Caseifico in Puglia along with Comice pears and pear sorbet.
Last but not least, the petit four is a showcase of three types of Patisserie – Cannolo, Baci di Dama, and Fruit Gelee.
Rants Nice colonial building location, though the interior of the restaurant does look dated. The good news is that there are plans for refurbishment soon.
Will I Return Again? Overall, I enjoyed my meal at Buona Terra as every course is consistently good, from the start to the end. The flavours of the dishes are a mix of heavy and light profiles, which does not make the meal feel too heavy at the end of it. It is an Italian restaurant, yet the dishes don’t feel like the ones I come across at a typical Italian restaurant. A nice surprised dining experience which I wouldn’t mind being surprised again.
3, 4 or 5-Course Carta Bianca menus | S$88, S$108, S$128
2 or 3 glass wine pairing with natural wine options available | S$58, S$88
Buona Terra Experience, 5-course onwards | From S$178
4-Course Degustation menu, 4-course | S$148
Wine pairing | From S$138
Natural wine pairing | From S$148
Whiskey flyer, years 1960, 70, 80, 90 | S$398 per person
Make your reservations instantly at Buona Terra here.
This was an invited tasting, though all opinions expressed are our own.
Taste bud: 4/5
Hole in the pocket: 4/5
Overall Experience: 4/5
29 Scotts Road
Tel: +65 6733 0209
Monday to Friday: 12 to 3pm (last order: 2pm)
Monday to Saturday: 6pm to10.30pm (last order: 9.15pm)
Open for dinner on public holidays
Closed on Sundays
Ranted by The Ranter