Thursday, April 7

iO Italian Osteria, Hillview Rise at HillV2

Italian restaurants are a dime in a dozen but it's hard to find one that doesn't serve the usual suspects like carbonara or risotto. iO Italian Osteria was a serendipitous find (thank you Internet!). It is an extremely underrated restaurant in an underrated part of the island. The restaurant itself feels artisanal yet homely, as evidenced by the humongous loaves of bread, homemade biscuits and pastries that greet you as soon as you walk in.

The menu lists homely comforts and every item was as deliciously sounding as the next. Given the ridiculous prices many restaurants are charging these days, I appreciate the gentle pricing and generous portions. I can imagine it would make a really awesome place for a party or small wedding. Rather envious of the people staying around there.

A must-have is the Traditional Roman Schiacciata. Roman what? Cheese and truffle cream squished between cracking bread. It is ok, you don't need to know how to pronounce the dish to enjoy it.  I absolutely loved this! It arrived noticeably late into our meal but we relished every single bite.

Another signature dish of theirs is the Porchetta. Though some of the leaner parts were slightly dry, it is worthy of a try, especially when you get crackling skin and fat all in one bite.

Instead of the commonplace calamari, iO serves up a fisherman's catch, which consists of squid, prawns and salmon, lightly battered in semolina and deep-fried, served alongside mayonnaise and roasted pepper sauce.

The burrata, parma ham and rucola, though seemingly simple, was remarkable. The bitterness of rucola and brash saltiness of the parma ham counterpoised by the lusciously creamy burrata.

I don't usually get excited over pastas, but the orchechitte pasta was smothered in a dreamy rich aromatic sauce perfumed with saffron.

Since this wasn't a steak house, I didn't have great expectations for the ribeye. But the kitchen treated it with due respect. Perfect medium rare, hearty and quite a slab, considering it was only $38. 

iO has an entire fridge dedicated desserts that aren't petite or dainty by any measure. Though we were all stuffed, we soldiered on since it's not everyday we come to this part of town. We shared the cheesecake on my MIL's request. It was rustic (i.e. rough around the edges) and dense with a chocolate nuts and raisin biscuit base.

Though it's only April, I dare say this is one of our favourite restaurants of the year. And that lemon meringue tart is calling out to me to make a return visit.

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