Angeleno is a new opening & can be found nestled at the end of well-trodden Gemmill Lane in & around popular Club Street. If you have eaten at Luke’s Oyster Bar & Chop House before then you’ll have no problems finding it because it has quite literally taken that space whilst Luke’s has moved next door, a bigger site which I can only assume is a sign of their popularity. Whilst Angeleno is the new kid on the block, there are some familiar faces involved. Taking charge of the kitchen is David Almany, previous head chef of Osteria Mozza, the much lauded Italian at Marina Bay Sands & a fixture on Asia’s Best Restaurant list. It was our friends that had heard about & booked Angeleno & for the purpose of this blog they will be known as ‘The Other Couple’ [TOC].
The restaurant itself is pretty small, modern & whilst understated it does have an aura of formality about it. That might be the crisp white linen, albeit TOC did notice the creases which apparently “would never happen in a really formal restaurant where the iron would have been out. Probably fresh out the packet”. Bloody sticklers.
The staff are incredibly friendly and attentive and asked if we would like aperitifs on arrival. We tried out the classic martinis and aperol spritz and we were off to a good start. Great drinks.
TOC mooted the idea of sharing everything but I wasn’t really in a full sharing mood so we settled on sharing starters and keeping our mains to ourselves. Although when Charlie decided she had to try the mammoth veal chop parmigiana we were pretty sure we’d all get a look-in…more on this later.
The starters came out and we tucked into meatballs which were meaty and rich and soft, wagyu beef tartare ‘bruschetta’ which was good and surprisingly light, but not as tasty as other beef tartares we’ve enjoyed (also a bit stingy on the crisp bread to scoop it up with), a pasta dish of what we called thick spaghetti (but correctly named bucatini) with spicy sausage and a deep tangy tomato sauce, and the surprise winner, dates with speck. Who would have thought that warm, moist dates & a bit of ham would be so damn tasty. It was the highlight of the night.
Onto the main courses. First thing to say is that the menu does have some pricey items on it. When you see $75 for a veal chop & $100 for their sirloin steak you start to think long & hard about what you want to order. In the end all 4 of us went for different options. I chose the Pork Chop that was this goliath of a chop, heavily spiced in a warming pepper crust & a good 4 inches thick of lightly pink, perfectly cooked protein. It was very, very good but was only accompanied with an apple sauce & was crying out for something green. This was an ongoing frustration actually. The heavy prices don’t mean that you can expect much with your main course. The same applied to Charlie, who ordered the famous, expensive, enormous Veal Chop Parmiagiana. Enough for 2, it is a whopper & drenched in a rich, deep tomato sauce (just like the meatballs & spaghetti dishes from earlier) & topped with melting mozzarella. It was a calorific treat but there’s only so much you can take down without any accompaniments before one gets tired, irrespective of how good it is. TOC ordered the Wagyu Steak (which was fabulous, & probably the best main) & the scallops that true to form were enormous, fat creatures that also seemed well received. We did have one side dish that was a hit. The Brussels Sprouts, pan roasted with chunks of bacon. They were awesome.
By this point we could have been carried out such was the amount of food we had taken down so it was slightly unnecessary when we nodded at the prospect of pudding. We did have the self-restraint to order 2 puds for the 4 of us & after much hot debate we went for the semifredo & chocolate pudding. Not overly memorable to be honest. Tasty, yes but just what you’d expect & not a lot more.
All in all, Angeleno’s Italian-American roots come through very clearly, but with flaws. Firstly, enormous portions that one would expect from American influence could have done with downsizing & adding more variety onto the plate. Secondly, the infamous Italian-American tomato sauce is impressive & deep in flavour, but did seem to crop up more than we would have liked. Three dishes with the same sauce makes it a little one-dimensional. Partly our fault on ordering admittedly, but also a little of variety could have been managed in the kitchen.
It was a great night though. Angeleno has a great vibe, fantastic drinks & we had a lot of fun with TOC. But, it is not good value for money & we all agreed we have enjoyed better Italian in Singapore. If you do head down there, you must have the Dates starter & the Brussels sprouts.
It will be interesting to see how this venture goes & if chef Almany can get to the heights of Osteria Mozza. Not convinced personally.
Angeleno, 20 Gemmill Lane