Saturday, February 25, 2017

Restaurant review: iO Italian Osteria, Singapore

It was time for another meet up with my gal pals and that predictably translated into another restaurant review 😊

The one thing I miss terribly from my previous job are my colleagues. Far from being just friends, over the years, they became somewhat like sisters separated at birth! If sharing office space, having lunch together every single day and enjoying coffee breaks was not enough, we would be in each other's company after work frequently too. We would joke, laugh, gossip, share secrets, trade family stories, unload burdens of the mind and generally be there for each other out at every opportunity. As the saying goes, nothing lasts forever and with time, a few graduated, some changed jobs, three of them got married, one may be even relocating but we still make it a point to catch up frequently and remain in each others lives. I can only hope that it stays that way for the years to come. Among these seven girls, some friendships date much longer than the others but when we meet, I am equally delighted to see all of them 😍

I don't know what connection we girls have to Italian restaurants but most of the time we find ourselves at one. All of us like Italian food and there is something for everyone so it is kind of a no-brainer. So, iO Italian Osteria was our pick this time as one of my friends had been there and was sufficiently impressed to recommend it to the rest of us.

Another reason why I was personally keen on visiting this restaurant was its location. Housed in the mall HillV2, this area holds a special place in my heart because I used to live on the same street. Back then the mall didn't exist and there was a vast expanse of lush greenery in its space. When the mall came up, it did break my nature-loving heart but I also secretly knew that me and my husband would have been regular visitors. On the bright side, the greenery is not all gone.

The restaurant embodies the simple and rustic setting of a traditional Italian tavern. Adorned with a selection of fine antique pieces, beautiful copper and real wood furniture, the interiors grabs your attention instantly. In contrast, the ceiling has quite the industrial look!

The ambience is relaxed and cosy.

The restaurant has an open-concept kitchen so you can get a glimpse of the chefs in action. 

You can find fresh in-house bakery products, breads, pizzas and house pour wines.

The biscotti looked really good and I made a mental note to buy some to take home but I got all caught up with my friends that I completely forgot!

There are  floor to ceiling length wooden shelves displaying unique retail products sourced from Italy. There are dried pastas, bottled sauces, condiments, extra virgin oils, jams, Italian cheeses, cuts of cold meats, as well as gleaming bottles of house wines.

The menu is concise and offers a decent variety of Italian dishes. There are the usual crowd-pleasers as well as some unique dishes and specials of the day. 

We ordered the traditional Roman schiacciata stuffed with truffles and cream cheese ($18) as a starter because it had been highly recommended. The crusted bread with the creamy aromatic truffle filling was delicious and moreish. This dish lived up to our expectations. I would say this is a must-try on their menu.

Its okay if you cannot pronounce the name....just point it on the menu and you will be fine (which is what I did!) 😂

Three of my friends ordered pasta dishes. The garganelli slow-braised lamb ragout ($19) with pasta that closely resembled penne got the thumbs up for its homely, earthy and meaty flavours. The homemade tagliolini prawns with lemon breadcrumbs ($22) with its simple flavours was said to be tasty. One of the specials of the day was pasta with swordfish ($32) which apparently had a strong 'fishy' taste but was still described to be quite good.

The pasta itself in all three dishes was said to be cooked to perfection  al dente.  

I ordered the special beetroot risotto with cheese and caramelized onions ($32). I am so glad I did because it looked good and tasted even better! The texture of the risotto was creamy and the rice had a slight bite to it. The beetroot lent a pleasing sweetness and the cheese and crunchy caramelized onions just added to the overall flavour. 

The two baked pastas got good reviews too. The baked lasagna grandma style ($18) felt like comfort food and the friend who ordered it appreciated the fact that it did not have too much of cheese in it. The baked risotto bolognese cheese ($16) sounded quite unique and had soft-textured rice with melting cheese and a light bechamel crust that wasn’t overly creamy and rich. Both dishes were said to be very filling.

The grilled pork chop with beans and parmesan ($22) didn't appear very appetizing (to me atleast) but was described as being hearty, moist and well- balanced. When the beef escalope ($42) arrived at the table, we are all astounded by the portion size! It was huge but the friend who ordered it almost managed to finish it. The beef was rather well done for her liking which was her main gripe with the dish. 

We ordered three desserts after scanning the menu and the glass door fridge in the restaurant. My favourite was the pistachio tiramisu. I mean, tiramisu + pistachios - how could that not be a good thing! Although the flavour of the coffee or booze was not predominant, the dessert was rich, creamy and indulgent. The amount of sweetness was just right for me. The Italian baked lemon cheesecake was suggested to us by the waiter. It had great texture and was not too sweet. A no-frills, homely kind of dessert. The chocolate and cherry cake with almond slivers was moist, sweet and had the welcome medley of chocolate and cherries. 

My Concluding Remarks:
iO can be your go-to place for Italian food in Singapore especially if you live in the West. Not considered fine dining but definitely several notches higher than the usual run-of-the-mill Italian fare you can find islandwide. The ambience at iO is chilled-out, food is authentic and flavourful and service satisfactory. Note that there aren't too many options for vegetarians in the main course section. The restaurant can be considered a bit pricey - the expected damage can range from $30 to $45. But take heart that you are paying for a good meal.

The location is somewhat secluded but with the new Downtown MRT line located nearby, accessibility should no longer be a major concern. I live not too far away and I will be back for sure with the hubby in tow! 

I would recommend this restaurant for couples, families, friends and business dinners. 

My rating for this restaurant is

iO Italian Osteria 
4 Hillview Rise
#02-01, Hillv2
Singapore 667979

Ph no: +65 6710 7150

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday 11:30am – 10pm daily
Saturday & Sunday 10am – 10pm daily


Note: This is not a sponsored review. The opinions in this post are solely my own. 

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