When Spanish restaurant Catalunya closed in June, we couldn’t help but wonder which establishment would take its place at the Fullerton Pavilion. After all, the four-year-old eatery’s floating venue had long been an iconic spot for its glass windows and unobstructed views of Marina Bay.
So upon hearing that an Italian restaurant named Monti had moved into the scenic space, we decided to stop by and check it out. We were also pretty curious to see what the place was all about, because we initially thought it was a new menswear label. (Prior PR efforts had a smart, mysterious gentleman appearing on its collaterals.)
Couture it may not be, but Monti is certainly a stylish locale with its dim lighting, velvet furnishing and dark wooden flooring. Geometric, hand-painted murals adorn its walls, while funky pendant lamps hang from its ceiling. The bar area is decked out in copper and monochromatic marble, making it a sleek and cosy spot for post-work drinks. There is also a DJ booth, where resident DJs will spin tunes late into the night.
Discreetly tucked away above the kitchen is a private room, which seats 12 and can be reserved for private events. Later this year, the restaurant plans to open up alfresco seating along its perimeter, so diners can savour their food while admiring the panoramic view.
Monti’s kitchen is helmed by chef Luigi Calcagno, who is based in Singapore and runs Italian eatery Zibiru in Seminyak, Bali. It dishes up modern Italian cuisine the likes of seafood, salads and meats, which are presented on large sharing plates. It also makes its pastas from scratch in its open pasta kitchen.
We kicked off our dinner with the Superfood Salad (S$24), a nutty and nutritious blend of 15 ingredients including sunflower seeds, walnuts, lentils, borlotti beans and chia seeds. Crunchy and delicious, the salad came drizzled with lemon vinaigrette, which prevented the mix from becoming too dry.
After starting our meal with such a healthy dish, we decided to pamper ourselves with something a little more indulgent. So we ordered La Signora Luciana (S$16), a warm, thick and savoury broth filled with succulent chunks of baby squid, sweet cherry tomatoes, and salty olives and capers. The contrasting flavours went beautifully together and made the soup so addictive that we couldn’t resist slurping up every last drop.
We particularly adored Monti’s Risotto Cacio E Pepe (S$39), which featured risotto poured into a wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, mixed with generous portions of cheese and black pepper, and topped with freshly shaved black truffles.
For added theatricality, the whole process of preparing the risotto was done tableside. We loved that every bite of the fluffy risotto was filled with bits of salty, creamy cheese punctuated with the truffles’ earthy aroma. It was certainly a decadent dish worth breaking all our diet rules for.
Also noteworthy was the Invertiti (S$34), comprising fresh ravioli stuffed with veal shank — which had been braised till tender — and covered in a delicately flavoured bone marrow sauce infused with lemon zest. If that wasn’t extravagant enough, the pasta was also sprinkled with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, which injected bursts of saltiness.
If you’re a seafood lover, go for the Rhombo (S$140), a sustainably sourced French turbot baked and served with crispy potato slices. The fish meat was pleasingly silky and came with a topping of crushed olives, which livened up its otherwise clean, almost plain flavour. We found the potatoes a little too over-salted, though.
All the dishes we had were generously portioned, so we were rather full by this point. But we simply had to try the L’ Orecchio di Elefante (S$80), which was basically a platter of crumbed veal. A popular dish in Milan, the meaty concoction isn’t as commonplace here. Monti’s rendition showcased a massive rack of thinly pounded fried veal served with heirloom cherry tomatoes, grilled zucchini and rocket salad. The battered veal was crispy on the outside, and soft, smooth and fatty inside.
For dessert, we were very much taken with the Ho Dimenticato Il Sigaro (S$16), a chocolate cigar infused with fragrant Lapsang Souchong tea (a Chinese black tea) and presented on a bed of snow-like “ash” made from olive oil. The chocolate was delectably smokey, and its accompanying savoury olive oil ash added dimension to the overall flavour profile.
With its prime locale, gorgeous view and luxurious interiors, Monti might just become our next favourite spot for a romantic and relaxing evening out. We like that it offers a wide variety of Italian fare that includes unconventional options such as battered veal, monkfish and baked turbot — which go beyond the tasty but ubiquitous carbonara pastas and lasagnes that are easily found anywhere else. We’re looking forward to when it opens up its alfresco seating area, so we can unwind over drinks while enjoying its unbeatable view.
Monti, 82 Collyer Quay, Fullerton Pavilion Singapore 049327, +65 6535 0724, www.monti.sg