iO Italian Osteria should be on your bucket list.
If your loved ones are craving for Italian, you are tight on a budget to splurge on a Italian fine dining, but you want to eat happily without all the formalities or all of the above, this is the place to go.
Located on the second floor of HillV2, iO has been doing rather well given that many eateries have changed within the mall over the past few years.
iO is also one of the 20 Italian restaurants in Singapore to be awarded the prestigious Ospitalita Italiana Gold Seal Award due to their outstanding food and service.
Upon entry, we are greeted by an array of homemade biscotti, pizzas and pasta sauces. Customers can come in and buy from the bakery, especially the pizzas, as takeaway or to be eaten in the restaurant.
Further in, there is an open concept kitchen where you can watch the Italian chefs in action. I was told that by taking the seats near the kitchen you could listen to the humorous chatter exchanged between the chefs if you know a bit of Italian.
With the dishes made in-house from scratch, expect to find freshly baked breads, pizzas and more. Everything here exudes an Italian vibe because the Italian chefs strive to bring in flavours from their hometown straight to your table.
There is also a bar counter where diners can have a drink or two from their list of cocktails, wines and beers.
The food menu will leave you spoilt for choice with its large variety of items. On closer look, it is categorised into breads and pizzas, street food, starters, chopping board, pastas, main courses and desserts.
So, let the feast begin!
Before the actual meal starts, homemade breads are served.
The breads have just the right kind of airiness yet firm in texture. We joked that we could be full just from having them as a full meal.
The Crispy Golden Seafood in Semolina Crumb ($12) is loaded with lightly battered salmon, squid and prawns. It comes with homemade chilli sauce that is spicy with a punch of garlicky taste.
If we have to vote, the sure winner is the Traditional Roman Schiacciata (plain $7, Stuffed $18). It comes in four big portions of melting pecorino cheese and lots of black truffle sandwiched between crusty bread. Your typical Roman-styled pizza.
Each bite is filled with the aromas of the truffle while the cheese oozes temptingly. At such a price, this is totally worth every penny and is highly recommended.
Besides the truffle and cheese, other flavours include the cooked ham with mozzarella cheese, and parma ham with rocket salad and Italian cheese.
The Stuffed Fried Olives ($9) are like an easy to munch on snack. The coating can be a tad hard to bite through, though the olives has a nice crunch to it.
You’ll get to taste Rome’s best street food, and one of such is the Rice Suppli’, Mozzarella Melting Heart ($9) that resembles the arancini ball made of beef, pork and mozzarella cheese. Beautiful strings of cheese forms when we pry it apart.
The most drool-worthy dish is the Porchetta, Baked Pork Belly, Wild Fennel ($16). It is a gigantic slab of pork with crackling skin, and stuffed within is white fennel with black pepper. The pork belly is served on the table before being cut into small rectangular pieces by the server.
The cut-up pork belly is likened a blossoming flower, which makes it easier for diners to pull out each piece of meat to eat. The texture is soft and tender. Together with the crispy edges, this dish is surely one of the best pork belly in Singapore, IMO.
The Assorted Pizzas ($9 small, $24 medium, $29 large) comprises of their homemade pizzas where the small portion comes in one piece, the medium comes in four pieces and the large comes in five pieces.
To be honest, the pizzas are rather affordable given that each slice is huge and topped with lots of ingredients. This is even more filling and price-worthy than ordering pizza delivery. The quality of the bread is again a sign of a good dough batter.
We round off the meal with a Tiramisu ($10) with chopped pistachio, mascarpone and coffee-infused biscuit. It is decent with a strong coffee taste, though we are expecting a stronger alcoholic touch to it.
The day was spent feeling like I was in mini Italy, savouring food that is truly delectable and true to Italian roots. Several noteworthy dishes are the pork belly, pizzas and Roman schiacciata. iO’s breads are definitely amazing as well. It is so popular that their reservations for dinner is always packed too. So do make a reservation early before you head down.
Expected damage: $10- $20