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FOOD REVIEW: Italian restaurant Osteria Art

Beppe De Vito’s latest venture showcases traditional Italian fare with more finesse.

With the hubbub surrounding the art scene this year, you may mistake Osteria Art for just another gallery, but it’s not. Instead, the “Art” in the name of restaurateur Beppe De Vito’s latest venture refers to Pellegrino Artusi, whose tome of home cooks’ recipes, La Scienza in Cucina e l’arte di mangiar bene, was instrumental in uniting the country’s cuisine. “Osteria” signals that it’s a simple Italian restaurant.

The establishment’s decor of swanky red leather seats and sumptuously dark wood furnishings, however, is more in line with an upscale New York bar than mama’s kitchen. But this is exactly what De Vito wants, which is a classy, centrally located place for the suits to talk shop. Indeed, he’s not put off by the high cost of real estate in the CBD. Says De Vito: “There is a market gap for business dinner spots (in the CBD) but not many want to take that risk, because investments in creating a space like this are too high.”

If Osteria’s interior belies its down-to-earth culinary style, the veteran with 20 years of F&B experience is focusing only on the cuisine he knows best. De Vito is aggressively expanding from his Sentosa base. In April, he launched Il Lido in Bali. Another project, Aura, will open at National Gallery Singapore in October.

While the dishes at Osteria Art might not be out of place on a dining table at home, they are executed with more finesse here. Take a snack of cheesy bombolinis, where molten parmesan is cocooned in a soft, chewy crust. Sprinkled with freshly grated parmesan, these savoury puffs are a dream to eat.

Then, there’s the papardelle with pork cheek and red wine. The handmade pasta offers good bite and there are generous shreds of meat. The addition of cured pork belly from De Vito’s other restaurant, &Sons, makes this pasta stand out. Diced and fried to perfection, the crispy bits offer texture and smokiness to round off the rich flavours.

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Crispy bits of cured pork belly round off the flavours of this rich dish – papardelle with pork cheek and red wine.

This attention to detail carries over to the desserts. An olive oil cake with lemon sherbet owes its delicate nutty flavours to the cold-pressed olive oil made from fruit from De Vito’s plantation in his hometown of Bari, in the Puglia region.

And, if it’s a celebratory occasion, the restaurant has a stellar wine list featuring noteworthy vintages to toast, such as the 1970 Brunello Di Montelcino Riserva or 1947 Chateau Leoville Las Cases.

#01-01, 55 Market Street