For James’ 20th birthday, I booked a table for two at Jamie’s Italian, located at Singapore’s VivoCity. I’m sure the man behind the establishment needs no introduction – Jamie Oliver is a celebrity in his own right. The interior – a sprawling, charmingly lit restaurant overlooking the harbour and Sentosa Island – appeared to be completely booked out, with an overwhelming number of people seated at every corner of the restaurant. This was a Tuesday night, too. Talk about popular!
Many things can be said about the busy restaurant. The establishment is hip. The establishment is cool. In this way, it is very Jamie Oliver. Modern, trendy music thumps loudly in the background, warm lights give the place a cosy glow, bespoke furniture litters the restaurant, oozing rustic charm. When we arrived, everyone looked to be having a good time, imbibing their alcohol and munching on hot food. We were excited to have our meal at Asia’s first Jamie’s Italian.
Amalfi Lemon & Basil Iced Tea (SGD$5.50/glass, $15/jug)
Famous Polenta Chips (SGD$7.50)
For the most part, we were impressed by what we ordered. For our entrées, we chose their Famous Polenta Chips (SGD$7.50), fried to a crisp and topped with rosemary and parmesan, along with Jamie’s Walnut Salad (SGD$9.50), a gorgeously-presented mix of trevisse, chicory and baby beets paired with the most amazing walnuts we’d ever tasted and a sprinkling of sweet balsamic.
Jamie’s Walnut Salad (SGD$9.50)
As a recent advocate of all things vegetable in general, I enjoyed the crunchy salad very much, although James wasn’t too fond of the bitter chicory and was much more interested in the polenta chips instead, and rightfully so because those chips were delightful. Crisp and subtly gritty on the outside, yet extraordinarily fluffy and tender on the inside, each delicately flavoured cube of fried cornmeal we bit into was heavenly.
Land & Sea Risotto (SGD$22/small, $32.50/large)
Our mains, while decent, were met with a little less zeal. Although the Land & Sea Risotto (SGD$22/32.50) was the stuff of comfort foods, what with it being flavoured with white wine and littered with an amalgamation of spicy Italian sausage, pancetta, mussels, clams, black olives, baby tomatoes, freshly cut chillies and field mushrooms, it was also a little too salty for my liking. That didn’t stop me from devouring the entire plateful though. I very much enjoyed the juicy mussels, the sinfully crisp pancetta and the sharp zing that the cut chillies imparted on the hearty risotto.
Tagliatelle Bolognese (SGD$15/small, $22/large)
The Tagliatelle Bolognese (SGD$15/22), consisting of a ragù of beef, pork, herbs, Chianti and parmesan with crunchy, herb-infused breadcrumbs, looked simple and unpretentious. James noted its subtle, not-too-overpowering beef flavour, and while the dish was a little dry overall, he maintains that the pasta was nice, apart from the fact that the strands kept sticking together.
Epic Brownie (SGD$11.50)
We finished off the dinner with an Epic Brownie (SGD$11.50) for dessert, which we loved so much that we could probably eat it every day for rest of our lives and not get sick of it. The warm, gooey brownie was accompanied by a generous scoop of melty amaretto ice cream and a handful of perfectly caramelised amaretti popcorn. Being James’ birthday, the dessert arrived with a lit candle, which was very thoughtful of them.
On the whole, we had a really good night. Jamie’s Italian makes for a nice, casual place to unwind at the end of the day. If we ever do return for a future visit, James has expressed interest in trying Jamie’s Italian Burger (SGD$27.50), characterised by a body of “wagyu steak with smoked mozzarella, pancetta, sticky balsamic onions, tomato, pickles & chillies”, and I would love to have a taste of Jools’ Favourite Sicilian Tuna Fusilli (SGD$14/21), which a lot of people seemed to be ordering and features “albacore tuna slow-cooked with tomatoes, garlic, herbs & cinnamon with crunchy, herby breadcrumbs”.