Nestled at a quiet corner in Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, Pontini is considered a fine dining restaurant in Singapore that serves authentic and rustic Italian cuisine. My first visit to Pontini was half a decade or so ago, back when I got my first taste of Italian and European cuisine. I left with a good impression of it then, but I’ve heard that their standards have declined since. So I was secretly glad that a new chef, Domenico Piras, had taken over the reins at Pontini and brought with him a new menu. That gave me an excuse to visit them once again with my parents.
Lightly dimmed and tinged orange, the restaurant emanates a very homely and warm feeling. I especially liked that the waiting staff were friendly, polite, and treated me with equal respect as to other customers. You know how some would give you a condescending look just because they think you’re a kid and don’t have the financial ability to afford their food? Hurmph. Oh and I have to apologise in advance, cause it slipped my mind to jot down the names and prices of the dishes we ordered!
Complimentary bread: focaccia
This was no doubt one of the nicest focaccia I’ve eaten with regards to complimentary breads. The bread was extremely soft, fluffy, hot, and what I liked most was that the herbs really shone in the bread. It tasted wonderfully delish of rosemary. The staff were very attentive and quick to refill the bread, which as a bonus always came hot. Perhaps what is most impressive was that they served the breads with a variety of dips – olive tapenade dip, tomato salsa and olive balsamic emulsion – alongside the usual french butter.
Pontini Pizza – with parma ham, mushroom, artichokes
Their pizza was as good as I remembered. Crisp crusts with a thin yet firm base, the pizza dough was a winner in itself. The combinations of ingredients were wonderful, with the saltiness of the ham standing in stark contrast to the earthy button mushrooms. I love how I could actually taste the smokiness of the wood-fired pizza.
This scallop dish was one of the entrées we had that evening. Perfectly seared and accompanied by an olive tapenade, tomato salsa and fried basil, it was a wonderfully composed dish. The sweet, plump and succulent scallops were very much the star of the dish, and rightfully so.
I still haven’t changed my mind about foie gras so I opted out from tasting this, but my parents and sisters loved it. Nicely seared and crisp on the outside, and Pontini made a good apple compote to go with it they said.
When it comes to carpaccio, the one I’ve tasted at Waterfall Cafe easily tops the list. I must say that Pontini’s salmon carpaccio has superceded my expectations. The marinade was refreshing and delectable without overwhelming the natural sweetness of the salmon, and I love the addition of the shrimp roes.
A classic you can almost never go wrong with, the success of this dish really falls back to the quality of ingredients used. It seems that quality is the one thing Pontini would not skimp on. The rock melon was huge and extremely sweet, and the parma ham was very fresh. What stood out was that Pontini’s rendition was elevated with the addition of some fig compote, which gave the dish a mellow and earthy dimension. Together with this unique presentation, this definitely outshines many of its competitors.
It’s really hard for me not to gravitate towards any dish that has the words “seafood” and “stew” in it. Naturally this bouillabaisse shouted out to me from the mains menu. Served piping hot in that pot, the stew was warming, hearty, homely and comforting in every sense. It’s the kind of soup that you’d want to drink on a cold day, sitting around the fireplace with your family.
I can’t really remember what this dish was all about, but it was a decent fish dish. My family loves fish, so as long as it is a change from the usual baked cod with mashed potatoes or purées we’d generally love it. What was interesting was the ratatouille it was served with. It really brings out that rustic Italian authenticity the restaurant boasts.
Dad, the carb guy, likes the pasta. It was pretty well executed, but given the numerous wonderful pasta dishes I’ve eaten, there’s nothing much worth mentioning about this.
Who ever said simple isn’t outstanding? This simple seared tuna steak with a lightly dressed salad was arguably the best main that we had that night. It was the juiciest tuna steak I’ve ever had in a contemporary european restaurant, and I must confess to loving every bite of it.
We were much too full then to have any more space for dessert. So dad decided to order himself just one dessert for everyone to taste. A pretty decent moist and earthy carrot cake, with a wonderful sorbet and mango gelee accompanying it. It was more cake than carrot though, and I’d like to see more carrots in it to bring out the essence of a carrot cake.
We left with a wonderful impression of Pontini that night. Definitely not amongst the top players like Garibaldi, Otto or Oso, but Pontini has its charms and we’ll definitely be back for more.
392 Havelock Road
Level 2 Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel