Italian Restaurant Review: iO Italian Osteria at HillV2, 4 Hillview Rise, #02-01, Singapore 667979

It might sound incredulous, but I first heard about the Italian restaurant iO Italian Osteria at HillV2 about 6-8 years ago when an ex-colleague said its the best homestyle Italian she's ever tried. Yes, that long. I did make a mental note to go, but for some reason the stars and moon did not align until this Covid year when I went a couple of months back (after CB) for a random late lunch with my sister and a friend. Since we went late (like 2.30pm), the place was relatively empty, but the place had really nice vibes that brought me momentarily back to my Italian holidays.

The tall windows are love. The view's on a hill.. oh wait 😅

They have chairs outside for diners - you could tell that it gets really popular (and it does, on weekend lunches!). Reservations recommended! The mall itself is really small and quaint, just a couple of shops and parking in the basement.

Here's the menu (click on it to view larger version in new window). This is just the highlights reel though - there's another QR code to scan if you wish to see their classic pastas and a more extensive wine/cocktail list. 

For starters, we were told since it was our first time there to try the traditional stuffed Roman schiacciata (S$10) instead of ordering a pizza (a good recommendation). Schiacciata means smashed in Italian, and basically refers to tuscan flatbread. It arrived warm, stuffed with pecorino cheese and pepper, and was superbly good. Everyone agreed - and it went so well with a light white wine. Ahh, Italy. 5/5 

The bread was so good, I had it again recently when I went back there for a 1.30pm lunch on a Sunday (much more packed)! It's a must-try - no other appetiser is as good, in my biased opinion.

The waiter spoke a funny mix of Italian-accented English, Malay and Singlish, and he also recommended for us to try the Italian "siobak" or the Porchetta - which is baked pork belly with wild fennel (S S$9, L $18). I think this is another very traditional Roman dish that I saw an Italian chef on Instagram make (there were a lot of steps). The pork was good - the skin could be crispier, and overall slightly less salty, but the blend of fats and pork was very enjoyable in a melt-in-mouth way especially when it just came out and was warm. However, it can be a tad much food for 2 or 3 pax - so maybe get this if you have at least 4? For a non-casual meat eater like me, this was worth the digestion. 4/5

To be healthier, we got the Grilled Farmers Salad (S$16) to share and this again was surprisingly delish, just based on how simple and fresh everything was - just grilled with a light dash of sea salt and olive oil. And that really is at the heart of Italian cuisine, I think. You get the best of ingredients and try to find a way to savour their maximum flavour instead of detracting from or overcooking it (boiled pig trotters, anyone?). 4/5

Among the 2 pastas we got the first time, the Orecchiette, pork sausage, saffron sauce (S$19) had my vote for being the best one. The ear-shaped pasta's the perfect shape for the rich yet delicate saffron sauce to coat it and hitch a ride to your tastebuds. Coupled with bits of sausage and it's just mmmmm! I was a bit sad when there was no more of this. Try this if you are up for something a bit more different than your spaghetti bolognese. 4.5/5

We also opted for a more luxe Homemade taglioni, prawns, lemon and aromatic breadcrumbs (S$22) which was a decent tomato-based pasta with a strong seafood aroma - but strangely reminded me of seafood ee fu noodles, and could be a tad drier. 3.5/5

On my repeat visit with a dear friend, we decided to opt for their classic pastas (S$24) from the QR code menu (or in my friend's case, the same waiter's recommendation)! She got the Arrabiata with spaghetti, which was flavourful enough. Very simple, straightforward. A little pricey compared to the ones on the normal menu, but I guess you pay for the skill to make a simple dish.

Me? Why, Cacio e Pepe, of course. I had considered ordering that the previous time but wanted to give the normal menu a taste. But this time I decided to go for it. So.. the first time it was served, it smelled ok, but looked very suspicious with a dark brown/pepper sauce (like a gravy). Upon tasting, the pecorino taste was barely there - so I requested for more salt. The waiter saw my dish and promptly decided that instead of bringing me the salt shaker, to kidnap the dish. They must have cooked a new one because the one that came back after 15 minutes was much better looking in colour - and had 50% stronger pecorino taste. I would have preferred if it was drier, but hey I know how emulsifying pecorino and pasta water can be tough. Plus pecorino cheese ain't cheap so. props to them. Yet, due to this experience, I'd say stick to the main menu pastas? It could be a hit/miss - esp. if you don't know the pastas well enough. 3/5

But whatever you do, you need to end the meal with the alcohol-free "better than sex" Pistachio Tiramisu (S$14). No really, someone used those 3 words to describe the tiramisu on IG, and I might have to agree. The pistachio paste surrounding the finger wafers were divine, together with the cream. Absolutely nuts for it! 4.5/5

I'd dare say iO is the best Italian restaurant in Singapore so far, that I have tried. Maybe if I tried the pizzas I might change my mind, but overall from the vibes, the staff and the dishes presented, it truly took me back to better days in Italy.

iO Osteria

4 Hillview Rise, #02-01, Singapore 667979
Mondays to Fridays 11.30am to 10pm, Saturdays and Sundays 10am to 10pm
Reserve on quandoo or Chope or call +65 67107150

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