Restaurant Review: Amò
Glamourised pizza parlour best kept for cheat days
Date night options are aplenty in Singapore and the gastronomic stretch of Hong Kong Street offers an endless deluge of cuisines and tipple treats from all around the world. Imagine my delight to discover the leafy joint, Amò, the latest extension of ilLido’s vivacious Italian roots to the trendy street.
Restauranteur-chef Beppe de Vito has been sitting on this fictitious idea of a casual Italian pizzeria for the longest time—only stopping short of bringing those plans to live when he chances upon a hole in the wall 1950s shophouse. The wait paid off and the goal here is “experientially rewarding”, thread one foot in and you’re glaringly overwhelmed by the Italian hospitality imparted. The fully stocked bar flecked in touches of glitz and gold will nudge you into a cocktail at first glance (they do a pretty good Negroni), while a sharp turn reveals a sneak peak of the kitchen in full swing; the wood-fired oven priming mounds of hand-tossed dough to glorified charred discs.
Lunch is a genteel affair with bright light streaming in through the half wrung opened shophouse grills and a soothing soundtrack. The clientele consists of the well-heeled and well-informed white-collared workers looking for a quick spiritual getaway from their desk bolts and chains.
The menu under Chef Beppe de Vito’s strict guidance is impressive and well layered. It doesn’t pander or leap onto the latest thing yet is structured with balanced twists and turns that do not attempt to insult the palate in a whimsical parody. Most of it is good and diners aren’t forced to learn by experiment what queer combinations are solid gold mines.
The most important weapon in the kitchen’s arsenal is the lean mean wood-fire oven that baths the entire dining room in a ripened cloak of warmth. A degenerative stifling problem that can be taken care of with the installation of air vents. Pizzas are baked into submission and mains develop a crackin’ smoky veil from brief moments in the furnace. It’s brilliant, its showy and we couldn’t wait to feast.
The zucchini flowers with mortadella, pistachio and lemon honey set the tone for the meal as the emblematic crispy zucchini flower crumbled to release a flash flood of punchy flavours from the savoury mortadella cream. The dish reaches a crescendo with the lingering finish of perfumed toasted pistachios.
Of course, there would be pizzas; the unmistakable elephant in the room forcing even the carb fiends to take a stab. And trust us, whichever combination you’ve picked will serve to punctuate the night. Check your diet at the entrance because the Bone Marrow and Wild Garlic Pesto pizza will annihilate your resolutions. The fragrant focaccia bread base is graced with all manner of good things: Friarielli, pancetta, pumpkin and smoked mozzarella and it’s wildly exciting to see the comfort wheel updated with luxe ingredients. We love how the crust is beautifully crisped while the succulent centres implode on the palate like a blissful sigh.
Less satisfying though is the Spaghettoni with Boston Lobster. The mixture of textures is let down only by the lack of freshness in the lobster, with flesh clinging on to the shell with the stubbornness of an ox. Swap that for fork-tender Grilled octopus, laced with a rim of Calabrian chilli vinaigrette around the dish.
After a heavy meal, the Caramel Banana Tiramisu, a riff on the ubiquitous Italian dessert satisfied our sweet tooth. A mild case of weirdness unravels as banana adds a familiar yet unsuspecting depth of flavour that takes you by surprise. Snap a photo, Instagram it. Then move on to the unanimous showstopper of the evening—the Ricotta cheese castagnole with moscato sabayon. Fried dough balls still custardy and creamy in the middle are dusted in a sheath of snow sugar. Tuck into these immediately as ravages of time and the occasional cool breeze are not kind to these hot pockets.
Though Amò doesn’t hit all the right notes, it is a great address for a fiery night out. I know I will be back for their scrumptious pizzas.
Address: 33 Hongkong St, Singapore 059672
Tel: 6723 7733