Opened in 2013, I couldn’t believe it took Cicheti a menu revamp for me to make my virgin trip to this shophouse Italian restaurant in Kandahar Street that melds ‘traditional Italian heritage with distinct Mediterranean influences’.
When it first opened, it was one of the first few pizzerias in Singapore equipped with its very own wood-fired oven which churned Neopolitan pizzas that quickly won over the tummies of many. This revitalised menu is born out of Chef Aun’s missed opportunity to travel in 2020 as COVID-19 put the brakes on his plans. With the assistance of his teammates, he was able to focus on fine-tuning this new chapter of the restaurant and we’re all thankful for it.
Tossing the stereotype of bitter eggplants out the window, Melanzane (S$16++) works even for those who aren’t fond of this tubular vegetable (those like me). The vegetable’s distinct bitterness gave way to a salty-savoury butteriness, all thanks to the homemade bagna cauda, an anchovy and garlic dip from Piedmont.
It didn’t sit too heavy on the palate due to the zest of lemon and the grilling over woodfire gave it a satisfying smoky undertone.
Can we please take a moment to admire their Sea Prawns (market price for three pieces)? Grilled with shells on, it’s stripped of excessive seasonings and simply lacquered with sofrito and butter churned with paprika, garlic, cheese, parsley, and spices.
The flesh was impeccably plump; an indisputable sign of freshness, no doubt, and created a pleasurable mouthfeel of gratifying chewiness enveloped in an aromatic robe of butter.
Casarecce (S$24++) looks like a bowl of cut-up spaghetti, but upon closer inspection, they look more like tiny rolled-up scrolls. Hailing from Sicily, the pasta was smothered in Chef Aun’s punchy tomato-based sauce with guanciale (an Italian cured meat product prepared from pork jowl or cheeks) with the edge of heat coming from a smattering of pickled peppers.
It may look mild, but this dish certainly wasn’t boring. It was rich, savoury, and had just the right amount of spiciness and acid to cut through the fattiness of the guanciale. There was also something very heartwarming about it, so if you come to Cicheti looking for comfort and satiety, this would be a prime pick.
It may not exactly look like a pretty plate, but trust me, the flavours from Paccheri (S$28++) will make you want to convert your intimate dinner into a celebration. The luscious shredded beef cheek is slow-cooked for at least eight hours with sofrito (sauteed aromatic vegetables) and porcini mushrooms.
Just like the previous pasta dish, this was a no-frills presentation, and that’s exactly the type of homeliness you’ll find in Cicheti’s dishes. The paccheri served as the perfect vessel to transport the moreish ragù from plate to mouth and my personal advice is to make sure you don’t share this.
Speaking of not sharing, this is another dish that you may want to consider not splitting with anyone at the table. I, for one, love a seafood stew and this Zuppa de Pesce (S$46++) really nailed it. Driven by a minimal waste philosophy, the stew was brimming with prawns, scallops, fish, mussels, and squid from local markets and fisheries.
The stew was thick and oozing with an intense aroma of spices as well as rich flavour. The seafood, needless to say, was sweet and succulent, making this dish one that you may want to sip directly from the bowl to ensure nothing gets left behind.
I’m not usually a fan of strawberry desserts, but after a few bites, I found myself growing fonder of the Strawberry Parfait (S$14++). Served semifreddo-style, its iciness was muted by ricotta mousse and a drizzle of honey balsamic reduction.
I was pleasantly surprised by the absence of the sharp tang that’s usually present in a strawberry dessert, as it was overtaken by a creamy, sweet-sour treat. It served as the perfect palate cleanser as well.
I still cannot believe it took me this long to visit Cicheti, but I guess it’s as good a time as any, with their new menu additions. The restaurant isn’t too large, making it ideal for intimate catch-ups and date night. Can I see myself returning? Absolutely.
If you’re looking for other Italian restaurants, we’ve done a round-up of the best Italian restaurants in Singapore too.
Expected Damage: S$35 – S$55++ per pax
Price: $ $
Our Rating: 4 / 5
52 Kandahar Street, Singapore 198901
52 Kandahar Street, Singapore 198901