Tue - Thu: 18:30 - 21:30
Fri - Sat: 12:00 - 14:00
Fri - Sat: 18:30 - 21:30
Closed: Mon, Sun, PH
This family-run trattoria serves a stylish Italian menu, some of it with Asian influences. The menu changes regularly and meals are carefully prepared by Chef Oscar. Be prepared to wait for at least a month before you can get a table.
I do not generally make dining decisions one month in advance, so thank goodness that friends like Panerai does and then lets me have a seat the day before when my schedule is clear - well, I made sure it was for such an opportunity.
Trudging across a place I thought I knew well, it still took me awhile to find this hole in the wall that has a warm family atmosphere - somewhat literally in temperature as well.
Once seated, I proceeded with the amuse bouche which was a really well executed egg on crustino. I liked it so much that I actually asked for seconds.
I then tried the Parma ham on toasted bread, together with grilled tomatoes and egg. This was a really wonderful dish in which the flavours of the juicy tomato blended so well with the egg with a crunch at the end.
The special of the day was a charcoal pasta with thick carbonara sauce. Paired with chicken slices, I found it a tad too salty for my liking. Although I had the starters portion, it was really large.
My friend recommended the mushroom soup, and hence I tried it. With a strong truffle oil finish, it was a very refined thick soup with strong bits of cut mushroom minced and integrated into the broth. Well executed.
A popular starter at Buko Nero is apparently the Taw Kwa Tower, and hence I tried it. Think of it as an "ang moh's" interpretation of the telor tahu goreng without the egg. Instead the "tower" was created from fresh vegetables with carrot strips that created a crunchy finish.
For my main course I had the beetroot risotto. Arriving in its purple glory, it was done al dente and had a sweet finish.
By the time I was done with my main course, I was too full to have desserts.
What amazed me about this dining experience is the kitchen. Chef Oscar is a one man show in a limited kitchen that proved that you do not need to have a "foo fa" industry kitchen to produce good food. On crowded evenings, do come early or expect to have a little patience for the preparation of the food as there are no external staff other than the three family members themselves. Nonetheless, good things are worth the wait.
Buko Nero, play of the Italian words Buco (meaning hole) and Nero (black), is a quaint little Asian-Italian restaurant along Tanjong Pagar Road. It has been at this current location for the past 15 years since opening in year 2000, managed by husband and wife, Oscar & Tracy Pasinato. The cosy 20 seater restaurant serves food with genuinity and I definitely would wanna revisit. Read full review at gastronomy.sg!
Straight from the horse's mouth, Buko Nero accepts reservations exactly one month in advance. So if you want a table on the 30th of September, call on the 30th of August. Any earlier and you won't be entertained, any later and you risk dining elsewhere.
For all the hype surrounding Buko Nero, I expected the food to be stellar. But few dishes stood out. There're a couple of exceptional dishes though, at prices that are surprisingly reasonable.
Top of my list is Oven baked cod with spicy crust. Cod can get gelat after awhile, but not in this case. The spicy crust made all the difference. From first bite to the last, you just can't get enough of it.
Next is the Buko Nero Tau-kwa Tower. Topple it and it looks like rojak. Bite it and a zesty citrus mist breezes into your mouth. Who'd expect the humble fried bean curd to become a superstar in an Italian joint?