Rum and mascarpone Bavarian cream studded with almond praline
The grim, if ageing, estate of Mountbatten is where I least expect to find a decent eatery, not least a modern Italian restaurant like La Barca that recently debuted at Goodman Arts Centre – the former campus of SOTA (School of The Arts) and Laselle College of the Arts.
Yet, La Barca is not just another new kid on the Italian block. Not with the lineage of Michele Sorrentino, chef and co-owner, who previously owned a one Michelin star restaurant called Antica Trattoria Botteganova in Sienna (Italy) until it was sold in 2009. And running the floor is co-owner, Christopher Tung, a former Wall Street banker of mixed Swedish, Chinese and Japanese heritage, who once apprenticed in the kitchen of Sorrentino. Since 7 years ago, Fung also runs a successful bed and breakfast cum cooking school in Tuscan and he’s now putting these hospitality skills to good use.
Befitting La Barca’s arty venue is a spacious, dim lit - almost romantic - 70-seater interior with walls appropriately adorned with Southeast Asian art installations and artwork. Not that we were distracted, Sorrentino’s beautifully plated, Tuscan-accented Italian creations kept our eyes - and palates - glued to his toothsome work of art.
La Barca's interior
The signature starter of raw tuna hunk ($25) arrived in a dense and hearty rosemary-scented cannellini bean cream with a green swirl of pesto. Equally imaginative yet wholesome was the lip-smacking whipped salted cod ($20), a pasty mash of cod, olive oil and potatoes served with homemade potato crisps.
Raw tuna hunk
The mini parade of pastas, mains and desserts that ensued was no less stunning. The whisper of sweet butternut squash perfectly mashed in the ravioli ($22) in an intensely savoury potato and leek bath surpassed any we’ve had in taste and texture. And the light yet robust sauce of sun-dried tomato, lemon and chili that accompanied the hunks of oven-roasted turbot ($48) was addictive enough to make us crave for seconds. Even the desserts swept us off our feet: the classically Tuscan pistachio powder-dusted pistachio parfait with chocolate sauce ($16) was sublime, as was Sorrentino’s unique take on rum and mascarpone Bavarian cream studded with almond praline ($16).
Tuscan pistachio powder-dusted pistachio parfait
If our sampling of La Barca’s refined Italian fare is any gauge, the restaurant indeed merits a packed house. If all goes well - La Barca may well signal the gradual rejuvenation of this insipid estate.
Time to put La Barca on fast dial.
90 Goodman Road
Block C Goodman Arts Centre
Opening hours: Tue-Fri: 9:00am-10:00pm; Sat-Sun: 12:00pm-10:00pm