I first met chef Nicolas Joanny during a quietly remarkable dinner at his eponymous restaurant earlier this year. His wasn’t the ‘best’ meal I’ve had in Singapore, but it was certainly one of the most earnest – more than anything, I remember chef Nicolas hunched over a counter at his open kitchen, putting the finishing touches on the evening’s courses before personally bringing them to our table. Here was a chef who wasn’t afraid to be in the thick of the action, a chef whose cuisine I wanted to explore.
My family’s been going to Gattopardo for two years now, and I still can’t figure out why the place is never crowded. It surely can’t be the quality – chef Lino Sauro, in my opinion, serves some of the most balls-to-the-wall Italian food in the city, with achingly fresh seafood and a technique that I can only describe as Sicilian voodoo. Some diners might be scared away, I guess, by the restaurant’s hermit-esque location in the Hotel Fort Canning, or by the prices, which are a slight notch above those at other Italian heavyweights such as Pasta Brava. I’d like to persuade these people to make the journey up Fort Canning Park to try Gattopardo’s set lunch, the perfect gateway into the restaurant’s gut-busting cuisine.