Does Joo Chiat Need Another Italian Joint? Yes, Only if It’s Forma.
Joo Chiat is dotted with a slew of gastronomic gems; on an obscure side street tucked away from the hubbub is a new contender by the Cicheti Group. For the past few years, the Singapore-based restaurant group has been making waves in the industry with Italian restaurant concepts like Bar Cicheti, and their new joint looks to be a runaway success. Forma is packed nightly, with a two-month-long waiting list. Considering the fact that the stylish trattoria just opened not too long ago, it nails the trifecta of a vibey location, food that is just as comforting as the atmosphere and a cult favourite: precisely prepared pastas.
At Forma, pasta artisan Yum Hwa Lee, who has made a name for himself through his private dining outfit Ben Fatto 95, works the pliable and stretchy dough into delicate shapes and is assisted by Denise Tsi, an apprentice of Lee. From the dining room, it is culinary theatre at its finest: you get an unfettered view of the labour-intensive process set against a backdrop of rollers, cutters and stamps. While Lee solely dedicates himself to the craft, the rest of the dishes are overseen by executive chef Dylan Cheong, who has had stints in Osteria Mozza and Gattopardo.
Start with gnocco fritto: these airy pillows of fried dough are served piping hot with lardo and dusted with pink peppercorn. It is an unexpected combination that works wonderfully—a “palate increaser” of some sort.
The slow-simmered tortellini in brodo is simplicity at its finest. Springy and light yet flavour-packed, a bite of it is equal parts comforting and nourishing.
Don’t overlook the struncatura ammollicata, it is a real sleeper here. The rye pasta is flawlessly al dente and the use of chilli, anchovies, olives and sautéed breadcrumbs is on point to create a depth of flavour. Meat-lovers will adore the pappardelle e coda alla vaccinara—wide, flat egg pasta with braised oxtail ragu.The slow-braised ragu sauce is rich and unctuous, redolent with herbs like rosemary, thyme and bay leaves that enliven the dish.
Bistecca di tomahawk should be on your radar too. Enjoy the 55-day dry-aged grass-fed tomahawk on its own, or with a trio of homemade steak sauce, mustard salsa verde or porcini gremolata. With meat as tender as the night and beautifully charred, it’s everything you want in a steak.
Forma’s got dessert game and makes a convincing case for all things carbs. The torta della nonna, a nutty twist on the Tuscan ricotta tart served with vanilla gelato is seriously good. But the crostata al limone comes out on top. Elegant and nuanced, it’s a crusty tart with lemon curd, dots of lemon gel and meringue, covered with a layer of tangy fruit tea jelly.
It is easy to get distracted by the newly opened celebrity chef restaurants like Nobu and Nancy Silverton’s Osteria Mozza that bring a lot of horsepower. But Forma is low-key good and doesn’t need any bells and whistles to shine.
128 Tembeling Rd, Singapore 423638; Tel: 6513 2286