Sunday, September 25, 2016

[Media Invite] Vita Italiana Restaurant @ 38 Mosque Street Chinatown

The name Vita Italiana may be familiar to some, but did you know that a new owner had taken over this place since May 2016, revamped its concept to an osteria-style with no menu and serving up rustic Italian home-fare just as mamma (or papa) would've made it. Owner/Chef Carmine is both a gregarious and humorous host, who's equally adept at utilizing both imported ingredients from his hometown in Abruzzo, Italy as well as from locally sourced produced from our wet markets.

To get there, the walk from the bus stop opposite of Hong Lim Complex took me about 10 minutes. Parking lots near the restaurant are limited and if you're lucky enough to secure one, do remember to put up the parking coupons (when appicable) as I've seen the parking 'uncle' coming around to check. Allow about 1.5 hours of dining time if you're doing 5 courses or more.

restaurant facade
coming round from the side
concept and pricing info

What's this concept of 'no menu' osteria style?
To put it simply, Chef decides on what to cook for you. For diners, the only thing that they need to do is to put their trust in Chef Carmine's good hands and able team.

Reservation is encouraged as the restaurant is a small and cosy place, much like a friend's home. Arrive at the restaurant and be greeted by the friendly restaurant manager, Giorgia. We learnt that she's from the northern part of Italy.

cosy space

Be seated, and Chef Carmine will be out to greet the guests. Chef would then enquire if you have any dietary requirements. Vegan? Not a problem. Has allergy to seafood? Sure, that can be replaced with other meats.

Osteria-style No Menu Course Options (aka Set Your Budget)
Diners can opt to choose how many courses they would like to eat. The very basic quick lunch set will simply be a two-course meal of either a soup/salad and a pasta for just $12++.

If you are not in a hurry, then a 3-course lunch meal can be enjoyed for just $28++ while 5-course is reasonably priced at $38++.

For dinner, diners have the option to have 9 course Chef's table meal for $68++ and 13 course for $98++.

From our experience, if you are in a group of 4-pax, you could do the 7 to 9 course meal. Desserts are included in the 9-course meal onwards.

For beer/wine lovers, do try the beer/wine pairing by topping up $38++ for 5 glasses of beer from the Collesi Birra Artigianale collection. We tried the Ambrata, Triplo Malto and Nera and they were all very good. You can arrange with Giorgia if you'd like to pair with beer or wine for the same price, or interchange the option.

Collesi - Italian Artisan Beer
award winning beer

The Experience

pouring of Italian craft beer
Liked how the staff genuinely wants you to experience the hospitality of Italians and the homely fares of Italian cuisine.


Started the night with Collesi Birra Ambrata with its slightly deep amber hues, honeyed malt and caramel profile with slight fruitty hoppy taste. Slight sweetness and smooth.

The antipasti platter was brought out shortly after. The serving sizes are of tapas portions and good for our party of 4-pax. The appetiser platter had so many things in it! There were two types of breads, a good mound of greens with tomatoes and olives (unpitted), cured meats (salame di Sant'Olcese), and two types of cheeses (buffalo mozzarella and taleggio).

Antipasti (2 courses)
Potato Foccacia
Salame Di Sant'Olcese
Buffalo Mozzarella
The most interesting was the thick cut salame and the squares of taleggio cheese. Interesting as this was my first time tasting this kind of cured meat and cheese. The meat was cut thickly in strip form. Very meaty, and somewhat juicy. Not too salty. The semi-soft Taleggio cheese has a nice strong flavour that's quite likeable. So good with the breads and salad. Goes well with the beer.

For the third and fourth courses, Chef cooked us seafood. The Prawn and Scallop with Saffron sauce and the Grilled Salmon on Pomelo with white sauce. Looked dainty and pretty. The flavours were rather subtle for the prawn and scallop.

Third Course - Prawn and Scallop in Saffron cream
Fourth Course - Grilled Salmon on pomelo with white sauce

The salmon was well-cooked and pomelo gave it just a slight tang of citrussy-bitter flavour. The white vinegar sauce was good with the fish.

Fifth Course - Lamb

Next up, we got a lamb dish. Grilled lamb rack with beans and bok choy and decorated with stalk of wilted chili. The lamb was tender with a slight chew and not gamey. The seasoning for the lamb was rather mild. The grilled chili was quite nice to eat with its slight smokey flavour.

For the meats, it was paired with Triplo Malto. The Ambrata works as well as that beer is an all-rounder that can be paired with anything. Liked the Triplo too and it has a slightly higher alcohol content as compared to Ambrata. Both were refreshing.

Cheers with Triplo Malto
Sixth Course - Pork Ribs with Fregula in brown sauce

Fregula is one of the more 'unusual' pasta that we seldom see nor order when we have Italian food in Singapore. Served with pork ribs, the fregula made semolina dough, offers a slightly 'popping' texture similar to barley. Grab a spoonful of that pasta and it was quite an enjoyable texture and flavour. The pork ribs were well-cooked and fork tender with slightly burnt edges.

As the flavours gets stronger, we then progressed to Nera, a dark beer similar to stout. This beer had won the World Beer Awards - Imperial Stout Gold Medal 2015.

If you're wondering if there's carbs in the course-meal, then answer is yes. Usually, there will be one pasta course. For that day, we got carbonara done in legit Italian style which is without cream!

Seventh Course - Carbonara
By now, we were all pretty stuffed from all the food and drinks! But, the carbonara was seriously good. Glad to taste it in tapas portion, so that's more manageable. Cooked simply with pancetta/bacon and egg with thin strands of pasta noodles. What a treat!

yummy carbonara
For finale, we ended with 3-course desserts. All are made in-house and we got tiramisu, panna cotta and vanilla ice-cream. The tiramisu here is a version without any liqour. Loved all the desserts, especially the panna cotta.

Desserts - Tiramisu, Panna Cotta and vanilla gelato
And, the unofficial dessert? The limoncello, a digestif aperitif. Sweet, strong and tangy. To be sipped slowly.

Overall, it was an enjoyable experience and we learnt something new about Italian cuisine. Reasonably priced and diners would get to chat with Italian natives about life in another country, food preferences, history, culture etc.

Special thanks to Vita Italiana Restaurant and Chef Carmine for your hospitality, and Giorgia for taking care of our table. Thank you Ivan and Chope SG for the invite.

Vita Italiana Restaurant

Address: 38 Mosque St. Singapore 059516

Contact: 6220 0093
Business Hours: Mon-Sun: 12-2:30pm, 6-10:30pm

Nearest bus stop: Opposite Hong Lim Complex
Nearest MRT: Chinatown


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