ITALIAN FOOD IN THE HEARTLAND by The Straits Times (1st April 2016) Tan Hsueh Yu Food Editor recommends

While walking around in circles trying to find PocoLoco, I get to thinking how apt the name of this Italian restaurant is. It means Little Crazy in Spanish (not Italian) and the owners must have a sense of humour.

Why would anyone open an Italian restaurant in the deep heartland of Ang Mo Kio, surrounded by HDB flats?

And yet, I hope this restaurant thrives because the food is well-priced and more than decent.

Bruschetta ($4) comes with housemade bread and, while the tomatoes on top are not fancy, they do the job.

I find Zuppe di Melone ($5) terrific – cool, sweet and perfect on a hot day. The ragged pieces of Parma ham provide a salty counterpoint to the sweetness of the soup.

The pastas are al dente, quite a feat when some Italian restaurants serve overcooked pasta. The carbonara ($11) has cream, which is not traditional, but the pieces of bacon are wonderfully smoky.

Zafferano ($12) has that metallic flavour I associate with saffron and I marvel at how it can offer a dish with the expensive spice for just $12. Gamberi ($11), which is pasta with prawns and arrabbiata sauce, is good, with just enough spice in the sauce to make it interesting.

If Barbabietola Rossa ($11, photo) is on the menu, order it because it is my favourite dish in the meal. Grated beetroot tinges the risotto fuschia and the rice is cooked beautifully, which is to say all the way through but not mushy. I would just ask for a little more salt in the dish.

Desserts are a mixed bag. The Panna Cotta ($5) with raspberry puree is delightfully wobbly.

But the Tiramisu ($6) is a let-down. Those sponge fingers would benefit from a longer soaking in more coffee. There should not be a crunching sound when spoon hits sponge.

WHERE: PocoLoco, Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10, Block 408, 01-779

MRT: Bishan

TEL: 8436-3363

OPEN: Noon to 3pm, 6 to 10pm, daily

INFO: www.pocoloco.com.sg

Article by The Straits Times (1st April 2016)