Zafferano Italian Restaurant & Lounge, Collyer Quay: “The Manzo struck all the right chords with my inner carnivore”

Zafferano Interior Online

“We find ourselves, today, busier during dinner service than lunch. Pre-COVID(-19), it was the other way around”, our host shared with us, while I took in the familiar sight of Zafferano Italian Restaurant & Lounge‘s soft red glowing interior, along with its stunning view of Singapore’s Marina Bay area. It has been about two years—give or take—since my last visit, and I’m here, once again, at the beckon of work.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m certainly not complaining. However, I do ponder momentarily why I’ve never visited this place on my own to wine and dine my fiancé. I have to do better and treat my other half to nice places, too. I suppose it’s partly the reason why the restaurant now sees tables snapped up during dinner rather than lunch; people are working remotely and seek fancy dinners as a form of revenge-spending since we can’t travel abroad just yet.

Chef Andrea De Paola is as charismatic as his food; his take on Italian cuisine removes the stuffiness that we associate with the cuisine and revitalises our senses to taste—and see—homely Italian recipes with a new perspective.

What I tried

Zafferano 4

This beautifully crusted Scampi (S$32++) was fished out from the waters of Mozambique, and prepared by grilling with extra virgin olive oil in a charcoal oven till medium-rare. One look and you won’t notice the traces of charred marks, with only a coating of housemade langoustine emulsion to give you a visual cue to how it might taste.

It tasted delicate, to say the least, and the grilling lent the perfect dose of smokiness to elevate an otherwise simple crustacean to simply exquisite.

Zafferano 6

The most ostentatious piece of the evening—and perhaps, on the menu—is the Spaghetti (S$30++ as a starter, S$42++ as a main). Its single-noun name dupes you to believe it’s as straightforward it claims, however, upon arrival, a modest mound of spaghetti folds over itself in a shallow bath of razor clam velouté, dotted by a trio of charcoal oil, lobster oil, and dill oil.

It’s honestly too pretty to destroy, reminding me so closely of terrazzo tiles. However, food is mean to be enjoyed best when consumed, and in doing so, I made sure to coil the spaghetti around my fork while swabbing it on the plate. Enrobed in every element—including miniscule pearls of ‘oscietra’ caviar—I enjoyed intermittent bursts of saltiness, brininess, and gentle sweetness.

Did it taste as picturesque as it looked? Quite so. For some, it’d be hard to slap a ‘must-try’ label on this, but it certainly provides one with an alternate opinion that pasta dishes are meant to be heavy, rich, and hearty.

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Zafferano’s Manzo (S$62++) comes with a handsome price tag, and fortunately, it struck the right chords with my inner carnivore. Its almost-glowing ruby centre drew me in as I couldn’t help but lift the plate closer to my face for an olfactory inspection. This striploin cut is grilled in a charcoal oven, which made its aroma the perfect partner to complement the woodiness of ‘finferli’ mushrooms.

As for the quality of the meat, there’s little to bemoan. Although I can’t say that my knife glided through the slab, there’s minimal resistance when sliced (and chewed). What really made this a home-run, however, would have to be the impeccable black garlic pureé; it was velvety as it was middle-ground pungent.

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Just like legally-binding contracts, dessert is non-negotiable. Again, finesse and emphasis on ‘lighter is better’ is exemplified here with Mozzarella (S$16++). It may not dazzle you immediately with its aesthetic, but its core beholds a buffalo ‘mozzarella’ soft cheesecake, spiked with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a dash of salt.

I have to mention, first of all, the element of savouriness was very much welcome and embraced. The saltiness toed the oft-unspoken line that allows it to announce its arrival, yet not boisterously speak over everyone else. What a polite treat.

Final thoughts

I don’t need to re-emphasise how appropriate Zafferano is for dates; first dates, anniversaries, blind dates—you get the gist. But let’s not focus on the obvious and instead, shine a light on the understated quality of this refreshed menu by Head Chef Andrea. From what I tasted, his menu celebrates Italian tradition in a modern homage with sensitive spiritedness, minus the onslaught of cream and tacky sauces.

You’ll leave aptly satiated but not grossly exhausted, which leaves room for plenty for an intimate tête-à-tête and an easy stroll by the Singapore River after if you please.

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Our Rating: 4 / 5

Zafferano Italian Restaurant & Lounge

10 Collyer Quay, Ocean Financial Centre, Level 43, Singapore 049315

Our Rating 4/5

Zafferano Italian Restaurant & Lounge

10 Collyer Quay, Ocean Financial Centre, Level 43, Singapore 049315

Telephone: +65 6509 1488
Operating Hours: 11.30am - 3pm & 5.30pm - 11.30pm (Tue to Fri), 12pm - 3pm & 6pm - 11.30pm (Sat & Sun), Closed on Mon
Telephone: +65 6509 1488

Operating Hours: 11.30am - 3pm & 5.30pm - 11.30pm (Tue to Fri), 12pm - 3pm & 6pm - 11.30pm (Sat & Sun), Closed on Mon
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