Via Veneto Ristorante Italiano

It had been a long day when we sat down at the cool outdoor area of this restaurant in Clarke Quay, and we needed a drink. We asked the waiter for recommendations, but the honest chap confessed he didn’t know and called his manager. A man in a shirt and tie appeared to assist us. In response to our question of how the merlot was, he nodded, “Quite OK, not too bad.” When pressed, he replied that the wine was “half-bodied.” Appalled at his ignorance, we decided to choose for ourselves. We were soon sipping our prosecco while starting on the delicious cheese, pear and rocket salad. The antipasto Italiano was also very good. We savored the smoky caramelized flavors of oven roasted capsicums, onions and garlic; and demolished the very tasty mushroom and eggplant chunks. Our mushroom raviolini, however, was a disappointing followup. The pasta was a too hard, and the sauce lacked mushroom flavor. The oven baked prawns, while large, were dry and were overwhelmed by melted cheese. We had ordered three desserts, but thinking we had overdone it, we asked to cancel the tiramisu. We were told “no,” as the chef had already started preparing it. Now, we know that tiramisu is usually made hours in advance and chilled, so we did not understand why our order could not simply be returned to the refridgerator. The tiramisu turned out to be competent enough, though not spectacular. “Pleasantly nutty” describes the pine cake, though some of us found it a little heavy. A dessert specialty, the Sorelle Fendi, was an elaborate mysterious concoction. There was a meringue-like layer with whipped cream, strawberry slices and shaved chocolate. Especially intriguing was the sauce, which we thought tasted like custard laced with champagne. The jury was out on this one. The meal over, we sat back and sipped our wine while watching the river boats cruise by.