by Jason Sych
@ 30 Jun 2017
Chef Osvaldo Forlino is authentic. That is to say, he embodies what you picture when you think of a true Italian chef: a person who is in love with ingredients, with wine, with making everything on the menu by hand without regard to the time required. It is not just pasta that he makes: who makes their own lardo or testa in cassetta in Singapore?
Well, Chef Forlino does.
Where most chefs focus on the plate as the place where perfection is achieved, Chef Forlino's perfection comes way before the plate is even considered. It comes in the form of the raw ingredients from which he builds his cuisine, the individual components that will eventually combine to become a beautiful dish.
For his restaurant, No Menu, Chef Forlino flies 200kg of tomatoes from Sicily each week. A great portion of those tomatoes do not ever see any type of cooking because it is sliced in half and placed to ring a plate of burrata cheese, Parma ham and arugula and they are left to deliver their flavour in the simplest and greatest form.
It is to his advantage to keep No Menu small. his clients seem to like the tightness of the dining space in keeping with the impression of how it is to eat in a small trattoria in Italy. "People in Singapore know Italy... they go and come back and want that same feeling... and here they feel they could be in Rime, Milano, Florence. People like small, they want to come in and speak with the owner, to know him and his family, they want to participate to become part of the restaurant," Chef Forlino says.
His commitment to such a high level of quality for his ingredients shows through in not only the plates that leave the kitchen full and return empty, but in the number of guests frequenting his restaurant. People come in for the simple dishes like ossobuco served in the traditional fashion with a creamy saffron-tined risotto Milanese, of the dish of calamari, prawns, mussels and clams in a simple tomato sauce.
Again, the ingredients are left to fend for themselves within the dish, without adornment or assistance from reductions, foams or heavy garnishes. His grilled pork chop is, again, a lesson in simplicity; finely grilled, salt, olive oil. The simple approach does not make the dishes boring - quite on the contrary, it is interesting to see a resurgence of dishes that dont work to overload a diner's palate with too many flavours.
With Chef Forlino's cooking, No Menu is as authentic an Italian restaurant as can be found outside Italy. JIS