Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Porta Porta, Upper Changi Road North

Eclectic would be the very word to describe the setting of this little restaurant (971 Upper Changi North Road, Changi Garden, tel : 65453108) with a somewhat bohemian charm, located at a rather remote spot beside a coffeeshop just across the road from Changi Prison. Homely would probably be the the best word to describe the food served. The dishes as I was served was in summary, tasty and as unostentatious they can come. If you're looking for Italian food with minimal to no frills involved, Porta Porta would probably be a very good bet.

I wasn't sure what was good from the menu at this place, so we opted for what was describe as the "faite" set at $48 which consisted of what the chef could bring out from the kitchen for the day. The set which looked like a sampler of various dishes consisted of a four course of which the first was starters and and soup, followed by a tasting of two pastas. The third course would be the meats along with calamari and prawns and then two desserts. The variety that this set offer looked pretty astounding as the dishes were brought out from the kitchen in quick order.

Starters & soup

Apart from the bread basket that featured a hard, olive oil flavored and dense crusty loaf; there was a wooden platter of marinated vegetable anitpasto; caprese with some smoked cheese instead of the usual mozzarella; some cold unexciting pizza; marinated eggplant; freshly toasted bruchetta; deep fried risotto balls with cheese centers; some fresh tasting plump mussels cooked in a spicy tomato and garlic broth and a rich savory fish bisque.

I hardly know how to begin with this list, but the soup and mussels which arrived steaming stood out pretty well in terms of flavor. The shellfish on the first serving had a weird smell so we requested for a change. A new bowl of freshly cooked mussels was brought back and was soft yet firm with bite. The densely flavored brown bisque has got to be one of the better fish soups I've ever tasted. I didn't even mind the mild coriander taste in it.

Two tastings of pasta

So here we have a pesto ravioli stuffed with cheese and spinach and a very tasty tagliatelle with prawn cream sauce. Both pastas were decently al dente though I would say that they probably weren't the best I've had for doneness. The savory prawn cream sauce turned out very rich in taste and again, was good that I didn't mind the coriander flavor in them. It's something I'll be looking forward to if I ever return to Porta.

The meats

The meats was for me, the least interesting unfortunately. We get a braised beef (no beefiness) that was sweet with the onions it was cooked with and a stringy piece of chicken in some cream sauce akin to carbonara. That's really all there is to them.

The calamari was however something I felt worth mentioning. The batter on the squids were so tissue paper thin that they almost weren't there. It was like a light dusting of batter all over and the squids which too arrived piping hot definitely tasted fresh. Despite appearances, the prawns were also in the same league of freshness. They were unseasoned and came like the steamed variety from Chinese restaurants with sweetness in the crunchy flesh. The shells were a tad difficult to remove though as they were a slightly stuck to the meat.


Dessert come in the form of a regular lemon sorbet and a rather good rendition of tiramisu. With the myriads of standards in tiramisus these days, I generally take them expecting the worse. This one served in a chinese tea cup turned out very robust in the expresso and atop, very light and well beaten mascapone cream.

On the whole, I thought that the seafood scored better than the meats. The bill includes just a service charge, no GST. I'm thinking that this place is definitely worth re-visiting and I'll probably head for the one at Stanley Street the next time to see what's up in that outlet.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I wholeheartedly agree with the author, i have only been there once but that one occasion was memorable for the sheer amount of food served, the lovely warm service (my wife told me to stop staring at the young girl who was serving) and the homely, down to earth, good ole style italian food.

We're looking forward to going back there again.