It’s usually hard to drum up any sort of real enthusiasm when we hear about (yet another) Italian restaurant opening in Singapore – not when the Italian dining scene has become so saturated that these restaurants blur into one another after awhile. But ever so often, a real game-changer comes along, makes us sit up and pay attention and more importantly, fall in love with Italian cuisine all over again.

interior_0.jpg

And newbie ALBA 1836 is one such sterling example. Co-owned by Sardinian chef Alessandro Frau (currently also the chef-owner of top Italian restaurant Acqua in Phuket) and now helmed by resident chef and fellow Sardinian Luca Piras, the charming restaurant located right at the end of leafy Duxton Hill serves an elegant, adventurous interpretation of classic Sardinian fare. But there are no airs or pretensions about the food or service (which is impeccable without being intimidating or obtrusive) – ALBA 1836 merely elevates comforting Sardinian dishes into stellar presentations worthy of multiple visits back. And isn’t that what good Italian food should be all about? 

Must-tries: The classic Grilled Sardinian pecorino cheese (below, $22) that comes served with chesnut honey and fresh figs – it’s a delightful symphony of sweet-savoury flavours and textures. Chef Alessandro’s risottos are much raved about, and while they’re excellent, we’re still partial to the absolutely stunning homemade ravioli stuffed with burrata cheese and black truffle and drizzled with a veal ossobuco sauce ($35). Ravioli really doesn’t get more luxurious than this. The branzino, or grilled Mediterranean seabass ($40) is another winner with fork-tender and ocean-sweet flesh. 

pecorino cheese.jpg

Skip: Nothing. That’s how much we enjoyed our food at ALBA 1836. Small eaters might want to skip the Spanish roast suckling pig ($50) though – it’s a little heavy on the palate and not quite the thing you’d want weighing your stomach down after a work lunch. 

Alba 1836 Winebar & Restaurant is located at 28 Duxton Hill. For more information, call tel: 6222-2048 or visit www.alba1836.com