OTTO Locanda

It’s hard to ignore the trend of casual eateries popping up on the local dining scene, and frankly, why would you want to? It often means relatively good food in more relaxed digs, usually at more affordable prices. Case in point, Italian stalwart OTTO Ristorante’s introduction of sister establishment OTTO Locanda just a hop and a skip away from the former.

The newly-minted trattoria certainly has the inviting ambiance down pat, thanks to warm colors and furnishings like dark brown leather couches and wood accents. Make no mistake though, it’s still upscale enough for a date. Coming out of the kitchen are mostly hearty classics including homemade lasagna done in traditional Bologna fashion ($24), and tagliata di manzo, grain-fed beef with arugula and parmesan cheese ($38). Both are good options, although the lasagna just slightly edges out the sliced Australian steak that’s drizzled with a balsamic reduction. Less successful is the homemade potato gnocchi ($24), which lacked a fullness of flavor you’d expect from a creamy gorgonzola sauce, while our order of prosciutto, mushroom and stracchino cheese focaccina ($24) proved a real standout. 

However, we have our reservations, hence the three-star rating. Even for a casual restaurant, service here could do with a bit of work and there are better Italian establishments at similar prices around (PepeNero on Stanley Street springs easily to mind). Although starters and mains are about $10 less on average than that of OTTO Ristorante, our advice is go for the older sibling.

Eat this: Parma ham focaccina. It’s one of I-S Magazine’s 50 things to eat in Singapore before you die (2012).