OChre, helmed by Japanese chef Kentaro Torii (formerly of Tavolo when it was in Telok Ayer), is definitely not your run-of-the-mill Italian restaurant. The cooking here is extremely good and OChre has the potential to become one of the best Italian restaurants in town. There are two menus: A red one (fine dining) and a yellow one (casual dining—you know, pizzas and pastas). But don’t be fooled into thinking that one is better than the other—both are equally good. From the yellow menu, we recommend the vongole e cozze (clams and mussels), a sophisticated starter featuring super fresh shellfish bathed in a light and flavorful white wine broth. The arancini is a tasty contrast of crunchy and soft, but it would have been even more delicious had the tomato flavor in it been sharper. For mains, the smoked duck risotto in the red menu gets the top mark. We love that the rice hasn’t been cooked into a stodgy mush; here, it is wonderfully light and the smokiness of the taleggio cheese and duck, together with the nuttiness of the rice, gives the dish a complex edge. The herb-and-almond crusted lamb chops (also from the red menu) are tender, moist, savory morsels of perfection. Torii’s tiramisu is superior to a lot of the competition and the trio of crème brulée (espresso, orange and pistachio) is also lovely; nicely executed and not too sweet. While the food here deserves a four-star rating, what sets OChre back is that it suffers from trying to be too clever. One suspects that it’s a victim of the Singaporean penchant for doing things with a twist. Telling diners that where they sit depends on which menu they order from is a bit silly—the red menu gets you a seat indoors while the yellow one has you sitting outside, though you can order from both. OChre, we want to like you very much, but please just concentrate on the food and let Torii’s cooking do the talking.

Mamma mia! Is your favorite Italian restaurant on our list of Singapore’s best?