Lovely, lovely Covelli.
A quiet, unassuming Italian restaurant in the basement of Orchard Central, Covelli Italian Bistro and Winebar isn’t a place that would immediately strike a passerby as popular or particularly well-liked by the masses.
However its contemporary classy ambience and décor drew me to it as I walked by, and lingered in my mind. When I discovered that this restaurant was part of the Palate programme, I jumped at the chance (well actually I bugged the boyfriend to take me there but never mind the details).
The place looked really nice and had positive reviews on Foursquare (I almost always check out the tips on places) so I was hoping for a good experience – and I wasn’t disappointed.
The greedy people that we are, we decided to have three mains between the two of us for our dinner. These were – the Aragosta la Pasta (Angel Hair Pasta with Lobster in a Tomato Cream Sauce Topped with Tobiko, $26), Chocolate Spiced US Kurobuta Pork Belly ($28) and the Merluzzo con Asparagi (Baked Chilean Cod in Pistachio Crumble with Asparagus and a Parsnip and Pear Puree in Lemony White Onion Fondue, $38). All of these dishes had the Chef’s Recommendation ‘hat’ sign on the menu.
And… they were all pretty delicious! I was honestly quite impressed. Although I’d say that the dishes weren’t particularly delicate or refined – there were many strong tastes and ingredients combined together in each dish vying for attention. However the blending of interesting, tasty flavours and textures worked for me here. It was a delightful, satisfying meal.
The Angel Hair Pasta with Lobster was well coated in a rich, slightly sweet and creamy tomato-base sauce that was oh so delicious. The angel hair had just the right texture (bouncy and let my teeth cut into it easily, neither too chewy or mushy) and the lobster was firm and succulent, retaining its natural seafood flavour. A good-sized portion of tobiko caviar sprinkled over it also gave the dish an extra oomph. I liked it.
The Chocolate Spiced Kurobuta Pork Belly was also quite a hit for us. The dark, flavourful sauce had just a hint of chocolate, and combined with the spices, created a nice caramelised layer on the pork. This, along with the juicy and tender pork belly, went amazingly well with the creamy sauce with its tinge of hazelnut flavour, mushroom tortelli and fresh blackberries – creating a party for the taste buds.
I’d rate the Baked Chilean Cod as a hit too, as its silky smooth flesh melted fairly easily in my mouth and was rather delightful with the accompaniment of asparagus, lemony white onion, parsnip and pear puree. The fish meat was also quite tasty and not too bland (tasting like water) or salty – which cod fish seems to tend to become when not executed well enough. While the pistachio crumble added a bit of texture and body to the dish, taste-wise I don’t think it did very much.
A lighter dish to complement the other two.
We were stuffed after all these and so shared a dessert, the Covelli Valrhona Chocolate Royale ($12) topped with fresh fruits, which was not too bad as well. It was smooth and chocolately, quite enjoyable though not particularly spectacular. My date really liked this dessert though.
Covelli was quiet when we visited on a Thursday night, and we enjoyed pretty friendly and attentive service and not too long a wait for the food.
I think it is a great hidden find with a classy and relaxed ambience where one can enjoy delicious food on perhaps say, a romantic date! They also do tea and weekday set lunches, for those who might want to take shelter from the hectic city life on the surface.
Nice bird cage and origami decorations on the ceiling, too. I liked its overall décor of clean lines and understated colours, that gave it a classy modern look.
Overall a pleasant experience for my date and myself – mainly because of the food, but no complaints on the service or ambience fronts either. The prices are also really quite reasonable for the quality of the food and ambience.
There were a number of other of recommended dishes I wanted to try but didn’t get the chance to (including the Seafood Antipasto, Barramundi with Charcoal Lobster, Duck Breast), so perhaps we will pay this restaurant a visit again soon.
Covelli Italian Bistro and Winebar
Orchard Central, #B2-13/22
181 Orchard Road
Tel: +65 6238 6300