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Eating @ La Braceria

I know I promised to review Oso Ristorante, where J and I had our V-day luncheon but La Braceria came first, thanks to the introduction by my college pal, Nicole. That's how J and I discovered another Italian gem in the middle of nowhere in the sunny island of Singapore. We went there last Saturday, partly on impulse and partly due to the foodhound in us to find good eats.

La Braceria is located just opposite our current favourite Italian restaurant, Cantina. It offers a slightly more upscale atmosphere with their ironed linens and napkins while Cantina is more casual and family-style. Menu-wise, La Braceria also focuses on 2 things, pizza and grill, whereas Cantina is more of a all-rounder, with offerings ranging from pizza to pasta. As such, it would be unfair, if I compared both of them and that is what I am trying to keep in mind. In any case, this post is not meant to compare, but review La Braceria. We had a little difficulty locating La Braceria, just because I did not have the exact address, but in any case, we found it and was glad we did.

Looking at the flames shooting up in the earthen fireplace, it was a natural choice to have pizza and not pasta. I decided on Capprecosia,with toppings comprising of artichokes, wild mushrooms and ham. J decided on the Grilled Tenderloin, with grilled potatoes on the side.

We were not served any bread to start but that's okay with me. All the more room for my main course. A few minutes after our orders were placed, the server informed that they had ran out of artichokes. My immediate thought was "I don't know if a decent Italian restaurant would run out of that stuff." But I was not too badly affected and made my reasonable request for a double dosage of funghi. Did I mention I am any mushroom's worst enemy?

The pizza arrived first. It was of a good size and the crust was quite an even round. The amount of topping was generous, enough to distribute a good amount, all over the pizza base. Mushrooms were not the cheap, button type, and the ham was not the ordinary, off-the-deli-type, but rather, good quality Italian-type cured meat. There was also a good dose of mozzarella cheese melted all over the pie. Just by looking at the visual piece of art, I was salivating already! Pulling off a slice of the pizza, with strings of mozzy cheese appearing inevitably just elevated my excitement. Unfortunately, the first bite failed to make a very sticking impression. The first bite was surprisingly bland. I reasoned it could be the insufficient use of tomato base sauce. Anyway, I requested for red pepper flakes to add some kick.

The pepper flakes came in a cute little dish and a tiny spoon. A bit of it was enough to stir my sinus so that was good. The crust was slightly thicker than I would prefer, making it slightly difficult to cut through with the knife. But it was seasoned enough to eat on its own so that was good. Subsequent bites of pizza where bits of ham used to sit were more tasty, salted by the ham I suppose. Overall, it was not a bad pizza. The generous use of toppings, plus the use of good quality ham and mushrooms, justified the slightly higher price at $21 compared to Cantina's at $18.

J's tenderloin came soon after. I did a double-take when I saw the dish. The meat was huge, for $32! Even J thought so. Although I did not try the meat, J could not stop complimenting on the precise doness of the meat. The outside of the meat was seared nicely, with the middle remaining slightly pink without any blood gushing out, just the way J likes his meat done.

For dessert, it was natural for us to choose the tiramisu, for we use this particular dessert as sort of a benchmark for a good Italian restaurant. Unfortunately, the tiramisu just looked good and while generous in portion, lacked the right proportion of sponge to mascarpone cheese. Parts of the sponge also were dry, due to insufficient soaking in coffee liquid. The creamy cheese mixture, while very generous in quantity, could be sweetened a tad more, just so that we can derive some pleasure eating it on its own. J and I agreed readily that Cantina's version of this dessert beats La Braceria's hands down!

Overall, J and I still had a good time. The atmosphere was cosy during lunch and quiet, which was good. Will we be back? You bet! Okay, I admit that as I was eating, I spied on a neighboring table's ravioli. Man! The creamy sauce looked delicious and the rustic looking, home-made uneven pieces of filled pasta pockets aroused my curiousity and tastebuds to garner a taste-test. Thus, we agreed La Braceria deserves a return trip, if not for the same things we had, at least to take advantage of the $55 set. Yep, La Braceria also offers a set menu, same for both lunch and dinner, featuring a grilled tenderloin, choice of pasta, 2 different chef's selection of grilled meat and your choice of dessert. The only reason we did not order that was the risk of sleeping through bible studies later on. Well, I have pretty much decided to order the set next time round; J can have all the meats, but I will get the ravioli and lava cake.


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