The colours, lightness, scents and flavours of an Italian Spring are brought together to the table at Braci – ilLido Group’s platform for showcasing progressive Italian cuisine in a private and personal kitchen which invites diners to experience that exceptionality in the exclusive Italian hideaway overlooking the Singapore River. With a name that literally means ‘embers’ in Italian, Braci embarks guests on a journey to the North of Italy through the Padan Plain, delta of the Po River, Coast of Liguria, Milano City, Alpine lakes and the Dolomite Mountains. These painstakingly sourced produce are met with Chef De Cuisine Matteo Ponti’s creativity and personal experiences, transformed into a Spring menu that serenades guests’ curiosity and demonstrates a reverence for classical Italian roots and a youthful, vibrant innovative spirit.
Delicate snacks set the scene – Ricchi e Poveri refers to noble and peasant in Italian. This is where Chef Matteo showcases both food cultures from the North of Italy; a potato open cannolo filled with pork trotter salad which is often popular in Italy’s countryside and topped with oscietra caviar which is a representation for the rich and affluent. As the Po river used to host a substantial amount of sturgeons, the caviar culture has predominantly been present in Italy for generations.
Having spent most of his childhood holidays by the Ligurian Coast, Chef Matteo’s personal favourite is the red prawn from Santa Margherita, a sweet and delicate prawn best enjoyed raw. Based on his personal experience, part of the snacks menu include Rosso su Rosso which means “red on red” in Italian which is a crispy snow fungus with Santa Margherita’s red prawn topped with Salsa Rossa which is a sauce made of red capsicum originally from Piemonte.
In Northern Italy, there is a popular dish made of poached veal served with a tuna-base dressing called vitello tonnato. In Braci, this is done with a twist and served as Tonno Vitellato; a tartlet with bluefin tuna tartare glazed with veal jus and finished with alyssum flower for a light horseradish flavour.
To start off with the appetizers is the Carpione which is a North Italian tradition of preserving fried fish in a vinegar and vegetable solution. Plated in the middle is a rose layered with cured kingfish, smoked eel and black radish. The rose is encompassed with a carpione jelly which is made with smoked eel broth, white vinegar, amalfi lemon and finished with marigold oil and shiso flower.
In tribute to his family’s northern Italian roots, Chef Matteo reinterprets the Ossobuco which is one of his signature dishes. He reconstructs the entire dish beginning with the edible hollow shank bone. Made with 36-month aged Parmigiano Reggiano Vacche Rosse – milk from the red Reggiana cattle, the bone is filled with a hand-chopped tartare of free-range, grass-fed beef tenderloin and topped with toasted saffron threads nod back to the flavoured risotto that the classic dish is usually served with. At Braci, guests are encouraged to be child-like and to pick up the ossobuco with their fingers to mop up the 100% vegetable based ‘ossobuco’ jus before finishing it in a single bite or two.
To be on the more playful side of things, Chef Matteo has created the next course called Nascondino which means ‘hide and seek’ in Italian. In this dish, there is a white asparagus milk blanket where charcoal grilled firefly squid and seasonal white asparagus are hidden underneath. This is served together with puffed quinoa which exudes a crunchy texture and bagna cauda, a traditional Piedmontese sauce made of smoked sardines, cantabria anchovies, pink garlic and cream.
Simplicity takes centre stage for the main courses. The first of the mains is the Linguine in Laguna. A Monograno Felicetti is used for this dish. This top-quality pasta from the Dolamite Mountains is made from single types of grains and exudes a harmony of aromas and flavours. In paying homage to the abundance growth of nettles grown during the season of Spring, Chef Matteo has used his mother’s recipe of a nettles pesto which the dish is then finished with hamaguri clams, sea asparagus and borage. Simple yet exquisite.
The next course is the Prosciutto e Piselli. A beautiful 7 days dry aged sawara cooked on a sichirin grill and prepared medium rare. It is served with sea succulents and finished with the prosciutto e piselli sauce. This classic pasta sauce originated from Emilia-Romagna, a region in Northern Italy, extending from the Apennine Mountains to the Po River in the north and was a trend in the 80s and 90s. Its original version is made of cooked pork ham, green peas and cream. Here in Braci, Chef Matteo has done a modern version of a seaweed beurre blanc sauce with smoked swordfish ham and teardrop peas, a unique pea from Spain known for its sweetness and popping texture.
The final main dish of the menu is the Agnello Pasquale. This is inspired by Easter as lamb and chocolate eggs are the most popular food items being celebrated and consumed during Easter. Both elements are featured in this main course and include a charcoal grilled maimao lamb saddle and a 100% pure dark chocolate stuffed morel. This dish is finished with jus made from lamb bones infused with a reduction of the Vermouth aged in an ancient cask of balsamic vinegar of Modena. This premium Giusti Vermouth is an artisanal product made with a selection of red and white wines, including Lambruso, aromatized with 19 botanicals such as spices, bitters, roots and healing herbs.
A selection of sweets will continue to intrigue the minds and taste buds of diners. First on the list is the Magiostrella which is an old dialect name for street vendors to sell their strawberries. In here, there is a cardamon mousse crowned with hearts of strawberry mara des bois which are a variety of everbearing strawberries that produce shiny red aromatic gems. This is topped with smoked dark chocolate gelato and finished with yogurt and black mint sauce. Next on the list is the Veneziana which is a sweet focaccia from the Veneto region. Rosa del Borgo translated to ‘Rose of the Village’ is one of Chef Matteo’s signature desserts. It is an assembly of oabika namelaka, a polenta sable and incorporates a rose infused vinegar made by IL Borgo del Balsamico. “Cristina, the owner and dear friend of mine, has a beautiful historical home with an incredible garden with many flowers — and in particular roses. The idea for the dessert came to me while I visited her during my last holiday.”
The star from the dessert menu is the Tiramisu Tartlet which consists of espresso ganache and marsala jelly. This bite sized tartlet is topped with a charcoal burned mascarpone marshmallow which gives it a nice smoky aftertaste. The Tukelin de Grana is a frozen parfait made of Grana Padano 12 months and white chocolate, apricot gel and almond cookie. “Tukelin de Grana in my Italian dialect means ‘chunk of Grana padano’, and this dish is in memory of my father, who ended every meal with a chunk of the cheese,” remembers Ponti. “I turned this memory into a sweet and savoury frozen parfait, made with the youngest grana padano together with white chocolate and crystalized sugar to recreate the salt crystals.” This morsel is elevated by a finishing of the “Riserve” from Giusti—fine makers of aged balsamico in Modena-produced each year in extremely limited quantities and extracted from a precious series of barrels. This is especially dear to Chef Matteo as he chose the cask himself personally with it being customized for Braci.
Savour a vibrant start to the year with Chef De Cuisine Matteo Ponti and his team at one Michelin-starred rooftop kitchen and bar, and discover the very best of the season with its 7-course degustation menu, available for both lunch and dinner with the option of wine pairings to complement the meal.
Executive Lunch: Tuesday-Friday (not available on Public Holidays, eve of PH and special occasions)
Degustation Lunch (4 courses), $118++
Degustation Dinner (7 courses), $258++