Saturday, 31 January 2015

Cucina Cafe & Restaurant at Holland Village Review

Cucina Cafe and Restaurant (former Amici Authentic Italian Restaurant)
275A Holland Ave

{*  UPDATE  *}
This review is based on the restaurant located in the address above, which have been moved to its new address in Aperia Mall, Kallang Ave as of 7 Jun 2015. I imagine the review for the food is still applicable as they have the kitchen staff.

I had dined in this restaurant 3 times in the last 3 months because it's within easy walking distance from my place near Holland V, and more importantly, Ada bought Groupons for these visits. I wouldn't normally dine in this restaurant in this price range if it wasn't for discounts. We went back repeatedly because we have yet disappointed with what we ordered.

Ada felt a bit bad for only eat there with Groupon, so I said I'll write about it in my blog if it makes her feeling better.

The Vibe:  It's a cosy, semi-fine dining setup, which I like. Dressing up for dining isn't my thing.

The restaurant's walls are covered in deep brown earth tone with semi-arches that when I entered the 1st time, I felt like going into a cave (not a bad thing). A brightly lit cave, that is. Adorned the walls are alfresco paintings of Roman goddess, and the most prominent mural is the likeness of a sword-wielding, winged-archangel Michael (you know, the one played by John Travolta's 1996 film of the same name).

St. Michael

Cucina cafe and restaurant, Holland Village, Singapore
While the front is located at Holland Ave, this backdoor
has more character

The Food:  We ordered from the limited choices with the use of Groupon: soup of the day, a main of 4 choices, and a drink.

Corn soup:  7.5 / 10. This was the soup of the day. Normally, corn soup isn't my cup of tea because I found them to be too sweet. This one wasn't bad. The garlic bread was crunchy enough and not too buttery.

Seafood aglio e olio spaghetti:  8 / 10. "Aglio e olio" is Italian for "garlic and oil" . We tried this before and found it too spicy (might not be for Singaporean). So we asked for less spicy. It was still too spicy for Ada. I could take it, but would prefer to be less spicy. I want to taste all the ingredients of my food, not being overwhelmed by one loud condiment.

The seafood serving is reasonably generous enough with mussel, clams, squid rings, and prawns.

Despite being called "garlic and oil", it's good thing that they're stingy with olive oil. Some restaurant puts so much in that you find the prawns swim in a sea of olive oil.

The Prices:  Quite pricey (expat prices) for casual dining without the discount. With Groupon, we were able to eat the 2 dishes above plus a selection of either tea, or coffee (we ordered iced lemon tea). All these come to more than a reasonable price of $16 SGD (Groupon is for $32 for 2 pax). You can't really get this seafood pasta alone in any Italian restaurant for less than $16 (decent taste or not).

Overall:  8 / 10 (if you order the right dishes and have Groupon voucher). Before my 1st visit, we read some comments on what people said about the restaurant. Pretty negative things were leveled at the steak. I don't know about their steaks, as a rule of thumb, I wouldn't order steaks in a restaurant that calls itself an Italian restaurant.
Barossa Restaurant, Holland Village, Singapore
If I like to eat steak, which I don't, I would check out the Aussie Barossa restaurant that's about 20m away. This isn't my recommendation for Barossa as I have never tried them. I imagine their steaks at least come from the green pastures of Australia, which is a country known for their quality beef export, and steak is part of Australian cooking.

Of all the mains that I sampled before, I found that Cucina makes decent pasta dishes. I also tried their pizza before, and it's alright, but I've more confident in recommending their pasta dishes.

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