One of the things I love most about Singapore is the local food, incorporating a rich heritage of dishes consisting of Chinese, Indian, Malaysian and Indonesian influences: wanton noodle dishes, carrot cake, chilly crab, dim sum, you name it. I always look forward to my next trip there to be able to taste my favourite dishes. So when my Singaporean friends Jeff and his wife Jackie invited me to eat in an Italian restaurant, I went… hum, well… guys, please not the fake, overpriced Italian restaurant.
Stop here, they argued: this is a real Italian guy, and the restaurant he runs with his local wife is so good and nice, and they cook real Italian food, and it’s inexpensive. I could’t say no in the end, and so I agreed to meet Jeff near Kensington Park, where Casa Manini is located.
Upon entering the quaint little shop, I was taken aback by the friendly atmosphere, the stylish deco and the welcoming ambience. Lemon trees lined in pots near the door and window were also a great detail, as well as the new Vespa model, religiously red, showing off in the window.
Also, it was packed with locals on a Thursday afternoon, which speaks for itself. Colourful walls and fancy table decorations rendered the place an amazing little cove where to spend a pleasant hour or two in good company. The menu showed the usual suspects of Italian classic cuisine: pastas, pizzas, salads and secondi (mains), not many but well described. My friend Jeff summoned chef Fulvio from the kitchen, who came out to greet me in Italian language; he shared with me that last year, at age 54, he bravely decided to leave BVLGARI after 24 years, to live his dream of owning his restaurant and fulfilling his passion as a Chef. Kudos to him!! Splendid and artistic Fiona, his wife, complemented the picture with her charm and with great recommendations on what was their specialities.
Being Italian, I would not resist judging an Italian restaurant by their pizzas and their lasagna, and since Fiona said the lasagna ragù was made by Fulvio according to an old mamma recipe, I went for it. Lasagna, pizza and a salad was our choice for the evening, all sprinkled by an amazing Montepulciano D’Abruzzo DOC.
So now I guess you are all waiting to hear my honest opinion, right? And here it comes: the mozzarella in the salad was so creamy it melted in the mouth; the pizza was thin and crunchy and with tasty ingredients; and the lasagna, creamy and rich with beef and pork Bolognese sauce, I have no words to describe it: it tasted like my granny from Emilia used to make. Fiona was right to call it their forte! The warm service complemented the whole experience.
Hailing from North Italy, Fulvio Manini passion for food comes from an old family legacy: Founded in the early 1900s by Chef and owner Fulvio Manini’s paternal grandparents Francesco and Lucia Manini, the family-owned Ristorante Manini was located in the enchanting medieval town of Bergamo located in the Lombardy region, north of Italy, in an area known for its unpretentious, wholesome foods amidst a heritage richly steeped in art and history.
Casa Manini restaurant in Singapore brings you the North of Italy in a simple, yet charmingly eclectic, artistic and homely setting, conceptualised, designed, styled and curated by Fulvio’s Singaporean-Chinese wife Fiona, while the Chef himself conjures up beautiful portions of mouth-watering, homemade dishes served with the warm hospitality much associated with the Italians.
My friends Jeff and Jacky were equally impressed by the meal, which we ended with a rich tiramisu and a panna cotta desserts.
Casa Manini is a charming 45-seater restaurant handing a true 5 star dining experience with reasonable and affordable prices that do not dent your wallet. Casa Manini appeals to diners of all ages, from families who enjoy wholesome, delicious pasta and meat dishes to the well-travelled gourmand looking for Italian comfort food and digitally, social-media savvy millennials who are always on the lookout for Instagram-able moments. Make sure you book them if you want to ensure a table, since they can get pretty busy during weekends and even week days! They also cater for events and special occasions.