La Noce

Salvatore Catalano (of the now defunct Papi) raised eyebrows when he opened La Noce in the culinary boondocks of Chu Lin Road in 2007. But that didn’t deter his fans from expanding their carbon footprint to visit his piccolo bambino. Well, distance is no longer an issue now that Catalano has opened another outlet in the considerably more accessible River Valley district. But just because it’s located at a more fashionable zipcode doesn’t mean that La Noce has lost any of its simple charm. Version 2.0 retains the unfussy décor of its Chu Lin outlet (which is now reserved for private functions) and scores full marks for its warm, genial hospitality. Its menu is a straightforward affair, filled with familiar Italian standards and generous portions. Every wedge of melon in our order of prosciutto e melone—which was fantastic, by the way—came draped with a thick curtain of parma ham (which had been aged 18 months, no less). The veal in tuna sauce was a robustly flavored dish and came with a generous lashing of sauce (though note that the tuna-infused mayonnaise may be a bit of an acquired taste for some). La Noce has a varied selection of pizzas, and if you’re having trouble making up your mind, you can ask the chef to do a half and half, which is what we did. We got the prosciutto e funghi and di parma, which was a hit with everyone at the table. We liked that there was some chew to the crust, and quite frankly, you can’t go wrong with anything that has parma ham on it here. Our favorite dish was the recommended capellini con polpa di granchio (angel hair pasta with crabmeat and cherry tomatoes in extra virgin olive oil), a nuanced, full-bodied dish which saw the acidity of the cherry tomatoes providing a sharp counterbalance to the sweetness of the crab. Compared to this, the rigatoni all’anatra (rigatoni pasta with duck ragout) can get a bit monotonous after awhile, especially if you’re not a fan of hearty cream sauces. We had space for only one dessert and opted for the la noce soufflé, which is really a molten chocolate cake rather than a soufflé but hey, if you’re the sort who likes your desserts rich and chocolatey, you really won’t have any problems with it as ours oozed chocolate like a Saudi Arabian oil well. We’ll definitely be back because La Noce has a three-course set lunch menu that we’re dying to try—where else can you get such fab Italian food and in town, no less?