Just Like Home

Posted on February 21, 2014

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After 11 years of running Langsuan’s iconic Calderazzo, chef and owner Marco Calderazzo brings his expertise of southern Italian cuisine to Amalfi Bistro. By Reena Karim

If it weren’t for the signage, I would have probably walked right past the bright yellow house, confusing it for a private residence. Even though the walls inside the three-storey restaurant had been taken down to accommodate an open-floor layout, many aspects of this 80 year–old former family home, such as original teakwood interiors and charming French windows, were retained during remodelling. The home was refashioned into a bistro and given a wider entrance—the former entryway now serves as a smoking area—and the garage modified into a glass-fronted kitchen complete with a wood-fired oven. Inside, the sun-flushed space is adorned in pastel shades and elegant white furniture that give the bistro a cosy appeal. Ideal for tête-à-tête dinners or small gatherings, the bistro’s many sections, both inside and outside, can be cordoned off for parties. Through the ground floor, diners can make their way out to the patio and swimming pool that are shaded by low-hanging plants by day and lit by the romantic glow of candlelight by night.

The Must-Trys
Chef Marco gets us started with Amalfi Salad (B320). The highlight of the dish are the breadcrumb-coated squid and prawn grilled with lemon zest, olive oil, and lemon juice. The flavourful whole-wheat breadcrumbs are not only incredibly light, but are also made in-house with little yeast and without eggs. The dish is accented by romaine lettuces, cubes of tomato, and avocado slices, all doused with lemon vinaigrette.

In between supervising the kitchen and sharing lunch with me, Marco claims to use no processed or canned food or pre-made sauces. Most of the ingredients are bought locally, with the exception of a few imported from Italy.

Next, we go for Spaghetti Mare (spaghetti with mixed seafood, B360). Marco substitutes the spaghetti with the cheekily-named, hand-rolled strozzapretti—“strangle the priest” in Italian. The pasta is tossed in a garlicky white wine sauce with generous amounts of squid, clams, prawns, and Tasmanian mussels.

Next come the mustard-crust lamb racks (B790). Marinated overnight and tinged with mustard, the succulent medium rare lamb racks are drizzled in a red wine reduction made with sage, thyme, garlic, and the bones of the lamb, which add a richer dimension to the sauce. We also try the wonderfully moist ovenbaked Pesce Fresco Sea Bass (B590) that comes doused in lemon and caper sauce, accompanied by carrots, spinach, and asparagus. I then clean up the plate with the help of homemade breads.

We end our experience on a bittersweet note with Bigne (B260). Vanilla gelato is sandwich between puff pastry buns, the top part of which has been dipped in bitter Belgian chocolate sauce.

The Libations
On Fridays and Saturdays, Amalfi offers fresh oyster and sparkling wine promotion (B499). On their beverage menu is the usual selection of cocktails (B140–290) and fresh fruit juices (B120–140). White and red wines are B1,240-5,000 a bottle and B240–260 a glass. The house Prosecco is B280 by the glass.

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Featured in Masala Lite, February 2014

Just like home

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Posted in: Dining