PocoLoco is a rare gem in our heartlands. It is common knowledge that Italian food in Singapore cost a bomb. Even most white-collar patrons will reserve such dining experiences for very special occasions such as anniversaries, birthday celebrations or to impress the lady on the first date. To bring affordable and authentic Italian food to the people, PocoLoco has its outlets set up within two heartlands estates in Singapore – Ang Mo Kio and Jurong in its revolution against the atas!
Instead of heading down to busy downtown, getting all dressed up for a meal (and enduring the terrible hassle of European table etiquette), the good folks at PocoLoco are bringing quality, value for money and the real Italian cuisine to you in the comfort of your neighbourhood. And yes, with the dress code and cumbersome table etiquettes threw out of the window! They hope to bring about a total lifestyle overhaul for Singaporeans where they can dine and wine without the fancy and often unnecessary overheads.
If you think that the low price and heartland location equates to amateur chefs or lacklustre food, you are terribly wrong. The founders have years of experience from their previous life at some pricey, fancy downtown Italian restaurant and their Head Chef has mastered his trade directly from Italian chefs. You are in for the real stuff and they are just cutting away the excessive frills (no service charge and GST too) to make Italian food an affordable daily affair. Enough of the chitchats, let’s start with some Dardi Rose ($50) to get us into the mood.
We started the culinary journey with Pane ($3) – homemade bread served with olive oil and butter. While we were not blown away by the bread’s light flavour, we appreciated its freshness and texture.
Next, we were introduced to all three different kinds of soup served at PocoLoco. Zappa di Funghi ($4) and Zuppa di Pesce ($6) were good but the usual run of the mill. Zika di Melone ($5) stood out and gave us a refreshing kick to jolt our appetite. This unique cold fruit soup was a wonderful way to experience the sweetness of the melon with parma ham.
There is nothing like a serving Steamed black mussel in white wine sauce saffron cream sauce ($10) while we wait for the mains to be served. The deliciously creamy sauce is best mopped up with a generous helping of the pane.
Capesante ($12) got our attention despite its modest serving. Our teeth cut through the soft but slight chewy baked Hokkaido baby scallops with closed to no resistance and the crowning with PocoLoco’s own garlic, onion and cheese seasoning was perfect. This dish is is a must order!
The open kitchen concept at PocoLoco allows diners to witness the occasional culinary feats by the chefs during the course of the meal. Drawn by bouts of fiery displays, we decided to poke our noses into the kitchen to see what’s cooking.
The flames were in preparation for our next dish Gamberi ($7) which consists of freshly sautéed prawns with butter, garlic and lemon. The smooth buttery sauce was surprisingly zesty and stimulating.
To be honest, we ordered the Barbabietola Rossa ($9) – handmade beetroot pasta for its gorgeous pinkish hue. According to the chef, handmade pastas are extremely time-consuming hence they only prepare around 20 portions per day. This pretty al dente delight is subjected to availability so make sure you come early to taste it.
Our experience with the Puttanesca ($11) wasn’t exactly that fantastic. The combination of anchovies, capers, black olives, cherry tomatoes and basil in tomato sauce might have made it overly salty.
We were sold the moment we tasted the flavorful risotto. Our initial thoughts were that Fegato d’oca ($15) tasted really good on its own even without the extravagant foie gras. But we were so wrong. We recommend that you portion your foie gras such that each spoonful of risotto gets accompanied by a morsel of the goose liver which melts in your mouth like butter. The combination is as amazing as the price you pay for good stuff. Can you imagine just $15 for a dish with premium foie gras?
Cooked in Tagliata style, the Manzo Beef ($20) was nicely seared on its sides while moist and extremely tender in the inside. The portion was perfect for a lady.
Like many fellow Singaporeans, there is always a special space in our stomach reserved for desserts. We love their Tiramisu ($6) for its light mascarpone cream and the unique infusion of Italian coffee liquor. It was most unfortunate that the biscuit was a little soggy by the time we tasted it (we spent quite a while capturing shots of this beautifully presented dessert) so make sure you make a go for it once it is served!
The Panna Cotta ($6) was quite a pretty sight to behold! According to the chef, the flavour of the puree may vary on a day-to-day basis to cater for the chefs’ quality control of the fruits. Put together using milk, cream and vanilla bean, this refreshing pudding dessert that melts on your tongue make a satisfying, sweet ending to our fabulous Italian meal.
Come down and savour authentic Italian with your loved ones in your most comfortable wear and in whatever manner you prefer. There is no dress code, no dining etiquette and no pretence, just honest fine Italian meal accompanied by quality, value for money wine in your heartlands.
Make reservations over weekends to avoid disappointment! The founders, who are also behind Siam Square Mookata, revealed that more lifestyle concept restaurants will be introduced in the heartlands in the near future. Do keep a look out for premium dining options right in your neighbourhood!