Da Paolo’s Midas touch on Italian cuisine is the gift that keeps on giving.
The fact that the restaurant chain has managed to stay true to its flavors, and authenticity after everything it’s been through, like expansion, commercialism and even the takeaways, is nothing short of a miracle. It’s especially true in Singapore where cost-cutting can cut quite close to the heart. This afternoon, I was invited to Da Paolo’s Pizza Bar at Holland Village to sample some of the new dishes on offer. The changes are two-fold. First up is a horde of experimental dishes – it leaves the realm of what’s commonly known with the cuisine, but the exploration remains respectful of the traditions and flavors. The second, albeit predictable but definitely a crowd-pleaser, consists of the Pizza Bar joining the breakfast club, albeit on weekends only.
The star of Da Paolo Pizza Bar’s breakfast menu is not a pizza, and unlike Domino’s or Pizza Hut, isn’t going to be made of ingredients found in yesterday’s leftover pizzas. Instead, it’s the Royale Stack. Imagine a bread-less sandwich of smoked salmon, avocado, poached eggs, cherry tomato stacked to the nines. If you fancy all-day breakfasts, the smoked salmon with egg Benedict will definitely number as your top twos, and this is basically that. The critical factor to this dish is fresh ingredients, because it’s a sensory delight – you’ll taste the multitude of flavors, get a feel of the varying textures, and you won’t be disappointed here. Note that this is a tasting portion, and the actual thing is much, much larger. I wasn’t sure about the Meat Lover’s Omelette. It came off as kind-of a meaty bolognaise lasagne, or something your three or four year-olds come up with when they’re in the kitchen with Mommy.
Berry French is essentially French toast (tasted more like a brioche, actually) topped with raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, whipped cream and served with a side of maple syrup. I love this kind of things, and go trigger happy with the maple syrup – the more, the merrier. You’ll need it, because unlike pancakes, these “toasts” don’t absorb the syrup easily.
To round-up the breakfast was a shot of Italian Hot Chocolate, which again, is a tasting portion. Yours, when you order, will be served in a mug.
In order to pull in the crowds, Da Paolo Pizza Bar, like so many establishments across town, has decided to offer a weekday set lunch. To avoid conflict of interest at Da Paolo’s Holland Village location’s three separate concepts, Pizza Bar has had to be creative with its lunch menu since they can’t offer pasta. So, leading the lineup is Berry Merry, a fruit salad complete with crotons, and Gorgonzola cheese. You have to enjoy cheese plates to really accept Gorgonzola, because it’s a really pungent cheese. It’s not quite as bad as say, blue cheese, but it’ll test your identity as a cheese lover. While I understood the concept of it all, I’d have preferred if they went for a cheese and fruit plate as opposed to adding the greens. It just felt out-of-place, and a tad much.
Mushroom Ricotta Crepes. Don’t look down on this, because it’s surprisingly filling. Made up of three mushrooms, and fused with ricotta cheese, it tastes like a really cheesy ravioli, which while I loved, was just too filling to be eaten by myself.
Toro pizza’s the new flavor. It’s a thin crust pizza topped with medium doneness roast beef, Asiago cheese and rockets. Some of you don’t like to see red on your beef, but I’d dare say that the success of this dish counts on it being slightly raw – it keeps the flavors light and appetizing. Perfect.