Pietro Ristorante Italiano

The chef at this homey Italian spot in the northeastern ’burbs Peter Neo may be a minor celeb (known for his cooking demos and guest appearances on radio and TV) but this place isn’t about to pull Yio Chu Kang onto the dining radar. Besides a dated décor (a pastel mural of a Venetian canal dominates the alfresco area while inside, heavy wooden furniture and pig figurines are the main adornment), the food’s stuck in a time warp. It’s the kind of fare you’d find at a joint with red checkered tablecloths: big, heavy and none-too-challenging. You almost feel you’re back in the eighties. The Linguine al Catoccio ($26)—tossed with crayfish, mussels, clams and calamari—comes in a heaping portion en papillote-style (in a paper package), which rather predictably results in soggy noodles and waterlogged crayfish. The Gnocchi alla Bava ($20) is a monotonous dish of potato dumplings blanketed in cheese. A little better is the Pizza Pietro ($26), which gets points for inventiveness. Heavy-going toppings like homemade sausage and porcini mushrooms get a kick from pink peppercorns. Too bad the cracker-like crust—made in a brick fire oven—lacked the requisite char of a truly good pie. Desserts include molten fondant cakes in many forms—chocolate, rum and fruit ($15 each)—which taste fine but are accompanied by unforgivably icy ice-cream. An affordable selection of wines—including by-the-glass options (from $12), half bottles (from $45) and full bottles (from $55)—does little to make it go down easy. Serving staff are eager but not very well-informed. That may be enough for some (pictures of smiling patrons cover the restaurant walls) but we reckon enthusiasm alone can’t make up for sub-par food, tacky ambiance and remote location.

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