Puteca Abate, Keong Saik: “I’m on the fence, but I’m rooting for them”

Maybe it’s the panini that turned out to be French toast, but I’m not quite satisfied as I leave Puteca Abate along Keong Saik Road. I’m very much on the fence, because this place shows a great deal of potential. My journey here has been ridden with miscommunication, and I tell myself that had I selected different items, I’d be leaving far more satisfied.

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That isn’t the only saving grace for this vampirish Italian deli, though. I say vampirish with full goodwill—Puteca Abate, though fairly young, presents as a timeless and charmingly derelict establishment. They look like they’ve been here forever and are on the precipice of packing it all in. Yet, it is the promising menu and friendly staff that will keep you tethered to return. 

Of course, it’s prettily furnished—marble table tops, gold accents, and neon lights—Puteca Abate straddles the whims of multiple centuries.

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A quick scroll through their Facebook page will have you anticipating toasty paninis, but that’s not what I got. As I leave, I’m already making plans to come back.

What I tried

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It’s a bit of a disappointment when I see the Monte Cristo Sandwich (S$13.80). Perfectly square and fluffy, this was completely unlike the oblong, flattened, grill-lined panini that I was looking forward to. 

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Cutting into it reveals that there’s no fried sunny side up layered between as expected, and a bite brings with it the dawning horror that my egg is inside the bread. I’d unwittingly ordered French toast from a panini menu! Though this unexpectedly scratches my month-long itch for French toast, I now have a panini itch that isn’t going away.

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A longer study of the menu has me realising that a pinch of mispunctuation in the Monte Cristo Sandwich’s description is to blame. Hyphens don’t come with spaces on each end, dahling.

Nevertheless, the Monte Cristo Sandwich is tasty. Puteca Abate does make a mean Ham and Cheese French Toast Sandwich, though perhaps they don’t know it yet. It’ll make a great brunch item if you know what to expect, so I rest my case.

The sweetness from the French toast and syrup does mean that my mid-meal dessert plans have to be put on hold till the end. 

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The Tagliatelle Al Ragu (S$14.80) holds much more promise, with a cocoon of springy, flat pasta cradling generous chunks of beef. The beef chunks tear off easily, and it’s delightfully briny when bitten into. My only gripe is that the pasta’s a little dry, so a heavier hand with sauce might do the trick. 

I’m mildly perplexed at the enamel crockery that Puteca Abate uses to serve their dishes. On one hand, they’re a little too light for dishes that heavy. I have a bit of trouble mixing the pasta since the plate keeps fidgeting. On the other hand, though, they’ve perfectly indulged my vain and impractical soft spot for that burnished aesthetic.

It’s all good, so far, apart from the spot of twists and turns. I’m not beaming with satisfaction, but I’m not dissatisfied, either. The Tiramisu (S$8.80) becomes the nervous final object of scrutiny.

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The Tiramisu is house-made at Puteca Abate, so I’m eager to know how this turns out. I love a fluffy, espresso soaked sponge layered with light cream. Bonus for the choking-hazard in the chocolate powder sifted over the surface. 

Unfortunately, this Tiramisu is overwhelmingly saccharine and exudes a sweetness reminiscent of overripe bananas. It could use a heavier coffee flavour, since that’s one of the main selling points of a tiramisu. I’m doggedly rooting for it, though, and I’m pretty ready to give this a second chance after it’s undergone a few tweaks.

Final thoughts

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It’s a mild emotional roller-coaster here, with the eager expectations and the not-quites. The ambiance and menu items all appeal to me at Puteca Abate—right down to those finicky enamel plates—so I quite desperately want them to work. 

At this moment, I’m on the fence. I can’t say they’re perfect, and it’ll take a patient diner to come back. That’s me, I’m the patient diner. Maybe it’s their charm, or maybe they do house vampires, but it now feels like a personal mandate on my part to return in a few months for a second try.

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Puteca Abate holds so much potential in the glimmer of scrumptious flavours that I tasted, and I strongly believe that a few adjustments to their recipes would propel them to the top of their game. 

And of course, I’ve got to come back for that damn panini. 

Expected Damage: S$8.80 – S$22.80 per pax

Price: $

Our Rating: 3 / 5

Puteca Abate Italian Street Food and Deli Sandwich Bar

1 Keong Saik Road, #01-02, Singapore 089109

Our Rating 3/5

Puteca Abate Italian Street Food and Deli Sandwich Bar

1 Keong Saik Road, #01-02, Singapore 089109

Operating Hours: 8.30am - 9.30pm (Daily)

Operating Hours: 8.30am - 9.30pm (Daily)