Do you remember your favourite restaurant as a kid? Aside from McDonald’s, obvs. Mine was Il Tempio in Bulleen Village, Melbourne. For special occasions Mum and Dad would take us to this dinky Italian restaurant. We loved the red and white checked table cloths and old chianti bottles as candle holders. Friendly Italian waiters served us and we thought it was the height of sophistication. The food was simple but good and you’d leave feeling full and happy. That’s pretty much what I still want out of an Italian restaurant to be honest.
I’ve written before about Da Valentino’s
, now up at Pasarbella in Turf City, where the homely atmosphere evokes memories of childhood Italian food. But I leave there feeling like it was an expensive meal for the simple Italian food that it is. In all my posts of Italian restaurants in Singapore
the caveat is nearly always that they’re too expensive. So when a friend recently encouraged me to visit Baci Baci in Serangoon I felt the familiar dread at being disappointed with a restaurant.
Baci Baci (kiss kiss in Italian) is nestled in a little cluster of restaurants and shops up at Lichfield Road. The corner position includes a cute space outside for a pre dinner drink or even dinner outside. Immediately as you enter Baci Baci you’ll notice the focus on wine with a display of different sized bottles and corks as you enter. The temperature controlled wine room also looks to house some lovely looking wines indeed.
Wine is a bit of a theme at Baci Baci and there are bottles of previously enjoyed vinos lying around in various forms that help create a rustic feeling. We certainly enjoyed the red and the rosé that we sampled. Mixed with the dim lighting and general buzz the feeling is warm and inviting.
I visited Baci Baci with friends from bootcamp, one of whom is a part owner. She’s a part owner with her Italian husband. His family have been in the restaurant business for many years and he wanted to give Singapore a try to create authentic Italian experiences for his customers. They’re also partners at Donna Carmela up in Greenwood.
On our visit we were obviously treated well since a part owner joined us. I did get the sense though that the staff knew the menu and the wines well as all of our questions were easily answered.
The menu includes all the Italian classics, as well as a full page of daily specials. For starters we chose fresh foccacia with garlic ($6++), a ‘small’ antipasti misti platter to share ($39++) and a bowl of the vongole in white wine sauce (28++). Servings sizes were super generous as I think you can tell from the photos. Not that it stopped me eating everything that was put in front of me!
The foccacia was fabulous, crispy outside with a base that stayed firm when you picked it up, and a soft inside. Based on the quality of the dough I would definitely give the pizza a try next time. The pizza oven itself was made to order and is a gorgeous creation of stone from Italy that certainly seems to have the knack of cooking a good pizza dough.
The foccacia was a perfect partner to the clam dish we ordered and I took great delight dipping the bread into the white wine broth. This was one of the best vongole dishes I’ve had in ages. Clams were a decent size, about the size of a thumb nail, and the sauce was rich and flavourful and not too ‘winey’ or garlicky.
The antipasti was a fairly huge serving of prosciutto, braesola, mortadella, olives, burrata and cheese. The crowning glory were the drops of pesto oil and shaved fennel that perfectly complemented the meats. We shared these three orders between four and it was a lot of food I have to say.
I lashed out for my main course and ordered the Osso Bucco ($44++) from the specials menu. In truth I ordered it because I wanted to see if the chef cooked it as well as I do 😉 (I make a pretty good Osso Bucco). The meat was served on a bed of saffron rice, which isn’t my favourite but I decided to take the risk. I was happily rewarded. The risotto itself was creamy and not too strong on the saffron front. The meat of the Osso Bucco simply fell away from the bone each time I forked a mouthful. The sauce was rich but not to over the top, the whole meal complemented each ingredient perfectly.
The sea bass was ordered by two of the girls, and again was a fairly huge serving but included lots of veggies so was a good healthy option. Squid ink risotto with lovely fresh seafood was devoured by Moo as well.
I was too full for dessert and Moo’s tartufo disappeared before I even got to shove a spoon in and taste so I guess it was good!
The Wine and the Verdict
We enjoyed a really good bottle of red (or two?) from Puglia. I Muri, a Negroamaro, was super smooth but also quite punchy, with a fruity finish. Coming in at $80 a bottle, this was an excellent value house pour and so good to see the combination of quality and value that is so rare in Singapore.
If Baci Baci was around the corner from home I’d be absolutely delighted. A comfy space where you don’t need to dress up, but can if you like, great food and knowledgable service. A pretty perfect recipe for a favourite local restaurant. I just wish it was around the corner and not in Serangoon 🙁
27 Lichfield Road, Singapore, 556847
Open Tuesday to Sunday for lunch (12pm to 2.30pm) and dinner (6pm to 11pm)
Bookings recommended, even on a Tuesday they were fairly busy