Mark our words: One Shenton and Asia Square are the hottest after-work spots to be at in 2012. Already home to a spate of new bars, bistros and cafes -- and that's all with barely even a 50% occupancy rate in the office space in Asia Square -- we can't wait to see what other new F&B concepts would set up shop here in the new year.
One Shenton and Asia Square are homes to new bars and cafes like The Exchange, The Bank Bar and Bistro, British Indian Cafe, Extra Virgin Pizza and Jewel Coffee -- check them out if you haven't already!
What is it: Contemporary Italian restaurant Zaffiro is one of the new tenants at the gleaming new Asia Square. Translated from the Italian word "sapphire", Zaffiro, with its intimate ambience and modern Italian cuisine conceptualized by head chef Giuliano Dacasto (who brings with him years of experience at award-winning restaurants in Italy and London, including a one year stint at L'Angolo in Singapore), looks right on track to becoming a popular spot for power lunches and romantic after-work dinners.
The look: Much like the building it's housed in, the table-clothed, marble-tiled Zaffiro is swankily outfitted, with ceiling-to-floor windows and customised artwork. The space is small, which gives it a extra intimate ambience -- quite a contrast to its boisterous neighbour The Exchange.
PR speak: “I‟m excited to introduce a menu that combines the flavours and presentations that are heavily influenced by the worldly tastes and cultures that come from my personal experiences," says Giuliano. According to him, the menu is a marriage between fresh ingredients with classic Italian recipes for reinvented dishes with exciting and comfortable flavours.
Must-try: True to his word, Giuliano's menu is traditional at heart peppered with contemporary touches (such as the use of interesting ingredients) and presented simply. The Alaskan king crab salad (S$26) for instance, is a refreshing starter presented with asparagus, zucchini and sweet chilli ribbons for clean and fresh flavours that's just intriguing enough to whet your appetite for more. The use cocoa butter and Franciacorta wine sauce with the roasted Greenland scallops (S$28) gives the dish a rich flavour that ensures that it's more than your run-of-the-mill scallop starter.
The food takes a hearty turn with the veal shank ravioli (S$32) that features squares of chewy pasta stuffed generously with tender veal and topped off with a savoy cabbage puree and truffles. The result is a aromatic and flavourful main course that's just substantial enough without overpowering the palate. It would seem that the roasted suckling pig (S$54) is one of the highlights of the menu, but for those who prefer something a little less heavy-handed, the roasted Canadian black cod with Sicilian eggplant caponata and smoked red capsicum sauce would serve you well.
While desserts usually play second fiddle to the mains, the traditional rum “Baba” sponge cake might actually be one of the most memorable highlights. Rum literally bursts forth with every bite of the light, fluffy sponge cake and the citrus cream, chocolate and cinnamon sauce makes for a lovely contrast against the bitter rum. Oh-so-decadent even for the ones who hold their liquor well.
For an accompanying glass of wine or two, Zaffiro boasts an extensive wine list that contains 260 labels ranging from the old-world Italian and French labels to New World wines. 13 varities of Champagne, and a list of specialty cocktails and mocktails are also available.
Verdict: There's something almost textbook Zaffiro -- but what it lacks in a certain sparkle, it makes up for in pleasing, comforting Italian fare and quietly attentive service that makes a dining experience here enjoyable enough anyway.
Zaffiro, 8 Marina View #01-01, Asia Square Tower 1, +65 6636 0590, www.zaffiro.com.sg