Ristorante Da Valentino

You’ve got to give this stalwart’s proprietor Valentino Valtulina props for taking chances on uncharted territory. He first opened his homey Italian restaurant at secluded Jalan Bingka back in 2005, and, in the middle of last year, upped and moved to The Grandstand (then still a construction site) a good three months before most other tenants; it’s since become a bustling lifestyle hub.

Regulars seem to have followed him to the fresh space—which is bigger and a mere five minutes’ drive down the road—but features the same familiar Italian countryside atmosphere with lots of dark wood and folksy animal figurines. That’s not to say they haven’t picked up a few tricks along the way. After years in Singapore, they’ve gotten wise to the Asian penchant for sharing—extra cutlery is sent to the table for this purpose, even unrequested. Though the servers are helpful and mean well, they’re a little overeager.

That said, there’s some genuinely good food to be had such as the mild tomino cheese ($24.90), perfectly wrapped with thin shavings of Parma ham, and their specials—there are around 10 a day—like stinco ($45.90), fall-off-the-bone braised pork knuckle. The only thing we’d pass on is the underbaked pizza (from $18.50), with none of the char expected of a good pie. The wine list, dominated by Italian standbys (Barolo, Chianti and Gavi from $13.50/glass), while not particularly exciting, pairs well with the traditional fare. Overall, it’s a safe if expected bet and the food’s a mite overpriced. But if you’re really hankering for an authentic neighborhood vibe, it’s worth a special trip.

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