This firm favourite has been around for about 2.5 years & speak to any foodie in Singapore, mention ‘Italian food’ & you can guarantee that Cicheti will be on the tip of their tongue as a recommendation. Pronounced ‘chi-KEH-tee’ the name is inspired by the signature small plates found in Venice wine bars. Informal, everyday, classic Italian food is the general principle & they absolutely nail it.
The restaurant is in a conservation shop house in the bustling Arab Quarter. Beautiful from the outside & warm, inviting & full of life on the inside. It has all the qualities of a good Italian restaurant with the dominant & huge, central wood-fired oven & plenty of Italian décor, including a floor map of Naples as you walk in. We booked late in the day & got a table upstairs in a little outdoor rooftop spot which goes to show just how popular the place is. First tip, book!
The menu is one of those where, quite frankly, you could close your eyes & pick anything with pretty good certainty you’re going to enjoy it. We landed on a selection of 3 Antipasti. Their signature burratina comes with salty parma ham, arugula & a moreish pesto, pistachio nut treat. The burratina is as good as anywhere we have tried in Singapore [including the fabulous Latteria]. Creamy, rich & fresh. We also had the signature meatballs which come in a deep, rich tomato sauce & toasted bread. Once again, fabulous. The final antipasti was the roasted pumpkin insalata with burnt butter, granola & a yoghurt dressing which was once again a hit. The three dishes were generous but not a morsel was left from any of the plates as the 3 of us shared & thoroughly enjoyed all of them.
Onto the main events, after much debate we chose 3 different dishes. I went for their famous pappardelle al ragu with braised lamb shoulder. I’ve had it before, I had it again & to be honest I’d order it next time. It’s so good. Thick, al dente, homemade pasta strips & a rich, meaty sauce. Can’t fault it. Charlie went for the slightly healthier option of cioppino, a stew of fish, prawns, squid, clams & mussels all bobbing about in a huge bowl of tomato sauce, chilli & garlic. It was tasty but could probably have done with a few extra hits of fish in & amongst the soupy sauce.
Finally, our Hong Kong friend ordered the squid ink tagliatelle which came with crab meat in a tomato sauce & crispy breadcrumbs to finish. I managed to get a good forkful & can vouch for it. Delicate crab, wonderful pasta & a sauce that brought it all together. Another hit.
It’s also worth mentioning that the staff are wonderful & we had a good chat with Ravi who runs the place brilliantly with an attentive eye, but an informality that makes you feel very welcome.
Get down there. It’s a winner every time.
Cicheti, 52 Kandahar Street