Reviewing Caffe Cicheti at South Beach Tower, Singapore: Fynn’s is now a reformed Cicheti concept of Italian favourites
The more the merrier
It's a bit of a good news-bad news conundrum. On one hand, we bid goodbye to Aussie joint, Fynn's at South Beach Tower, and on the other, we welcome a third Cicheti concept to the dining scene — Caffe Cicheti. The move to rebrand the space was taken to better consolidate the various establishments (namely Cicheti and Bar Cicheti that would ring familiar pleasant bells to most locals who have a good grasp on Italian grub), under restauranteur Liling Ong.
The space looks marginally close to how we remember it to be: Floor-to-ceiling glass panels, leafy counterparts, and furniture that would eventually gently lead you into a relaxing bohemian trance. There is but a fresh coat of dark emerald paint and a charming patio seating introduced if you prefer people-watching outdoors.
Loyal fans of Fynn's will be pleased to know that Caffe Cicheti has saved the cult-favourite ricotta hotcakes on the brunch menu. As with every concept bearing the Cicheti name, there's a dedicated focus on the beverage programme here, helmed by head somm Ronald Kamiyama who makes wine drinking an interesting and insightful affair. As and when, wine pairings are encouraged, with the smorgasboard of renowned and indie labels alike on the list.
Brand new antipasti snacks are something to look out for here. Especially the deep-fried sardines, that might not sound like much if you're reminded of those sloshed in a can. Caffe Cichetti uses mediterranean sardines that are dressed in polenta and semolina flour, before going into the fryer. A touch of fine salt and a healthy amount of their housemade garlic aioli goes a long way — which is what happened when we were demolishing our fourth piece and still lapping for more.
Like Bar Cicheti, pastas are undoubtedly a veritable signature at this bistro. Spaghetti with a hearty homemade tomato basil sauce, red wine duck ragu tortiglioni, vongole, and lump crab cooked in a piquant shelfish broth bavette (which appears to be a familiar rendition to the crab pasta we've savoured over at Cicheti). Obviously, there's pesto — cloyed with al dente spaghetti and topped with pounded pine nuts and shaved parmigiano. It's simple, fuss free, and done like how pesto exactly should be.
And yes while handmade noods might be an important fixture in any Italian establishment, Caffe Cicheti proves it has more than one trick up its sleeves — from juicy chicken thighs to a beautifully charred Iberico pork. The latter is spruced with granny smith apple slices and frizzed kale, cutting through the fat adeptly. Make sure to also get a handful of sides — they do a mean portion of brussel sprouts with candied pecans and potato gratin concealing a grounded core of cheese, decadence, and more cheese.
To really get a first raving impression sealed in here, order the cioppino. It's a seafood stew, influenced by San Fran, that tastes like a real labour of love. Fish and prawn stock was boiled for just half an hour, then simmered with housemade tomato sauce and cream before tossing in a medley of seafood (of grey prawns, flower clams, scallops, and squids). Essentially a complex harmony of the sea and spot on tomato jus. It's served with a sinful foccacia lathered with garlic and butter. But clearly you'll enjoy it best alone, or maybe a cheeky hint of chili padi just because we're crazy about our heat like that.
26 Beach Rd, South Beach Tower, #B1-21, Tel: 6384 1878
Opening hours: (Tues-Fri)11.30am-2.30pm, 5.30pm-10pm,(Sat)11.30am-3pm, 5.30pm-10pm, (Sun) 10.30am-4.30pm