Italian Restaurant Review: Fico opens at East Coast Park Area F, Singapore 468964

Buona giornata~ It is always a good day in Singapore when an Italian restaurant helmed by an Italian chef opens up here. And Fico was exactly that. It opened in mid May, with its concept inspired by the talented Chef Mirko Febbrile's hometown of Puglia (I heard the pottery and decor was shipped from there alongside working with local boutique shops to dress the place up). When I heard the news, I immediately looked to book seats and a friend who went on opening night overheard and said just book 6 seats first and we'll get the people to go later. So that's what I did that week, 3+ weeks in advance for our dinner last night. For some reason, I had thought that the place would be like Forma that opened a year ago in one of the Katong shophouses, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was right by the sea and full of good vibes 

There's alfresco and indoor seating - I unfortunately picked the indoor seating by mistake during booking, because seating outside means fresh sea breeze and a seaside view. One consolation was the sun does not set by the sea so at least we didn't miss that. Pro tip #1: Always try to get the alfresco seating!

There's even this super cute window at the back for takeaway bread, fried pizza, gelato and coffee! 

The indoor area was honestly quite a vibe too, and much cooler, even though you can peek into the bustling kitchen with a large number of staff manning their stations! The staff was really affable and warm too, which we all appreciate because a place is not just all about the food but the people and ambiance. 

Here's the simplistic two-pager menu, which I appreciate. The cuisine, according to their website, adopts a "waste-not, want-not approach, using simple ingredients and techniques to produce bold, hearty flavours." Their menu is also seasonal and features homemade pasta and signature focaccina. Music to my ears! We ordered almost everything we could on the menu between the 6 of us. Pro tip #2: Always come in a large group so you can try more things.

First off we started with the refreshingly Fico Seafood Platter (S$98) on ice. Really creamy oysters, sweet scampi and flavourful red prawns were shelled and perfect with a squeeze of lemon or vinegar. Since Puglia is near the coast, it is only natural that seafood is one of the strong points in their cuisine, and we do share the same terroir as an island! 4/5

Their focaccina is a must try especially items 2 and 3, so we got the San Marzano Tomatoes (S$22) with buffalo mozzarella, basil and EVOO, which is basically a pizza, and a delicious one at that. I will definitely reorder this next time. 4.5/5

In the background you can see we also ordered the large Mortadella Bologna (S$16) which was plain but so good too. 4/5

We also tried their Charred red peppers (S$18) with Cantabrico anchovies, capers and EVOO, which is a very typical Italian dish I would think! This was just ok for me though, probably because I've realised that anchovies in general are not my thing. Still, really well executed because of the fresh tomatoes and peppers. 4/5

The next dish is more of my speed - the Tomino Cheese (S$22) with pancetta wrapped around and baked. The soft Italian cheese originates from Piedmont and is made from cow's milk - the soft texture with bitter notes were a pleasant surprise because it really enhances the cheese experience! 4.5/5 

We also got an add-on of the Burrata di Puglia (S$22) towards the end of the meal because we realised there was still some room. It was really just a ball of burrata with some dried tomatoes though. Quite normal, would skip next time just because there are better things to fill it up.3/5

Moving to the even more exciting part of the meal - the pasta! We got 4 out of the 6 handmade pastas, starting with the Burnt wheat balanzoni (S$23) with aubergine, cacioricotta, brown butter and sage. Quite an unusual dish - I learnt that balanzoni is basically a tortellini-like stuffed pasta with ricotta cheese. Well it tasted like that! The pasta skin was so thin and delicate though. It is amazing but this dish probably have the lightest flavours amongst the 4. I'm glad I tried it but would not be craaaaving for it like the others. 4/5

We also got the ear-shaped pasta called Orecchiette (S$24) with cime di rapa  (know as rapini or broccoli rabe), anchovies and EVOO. The broccolini-like vegetable is a new one for me and I'm glad I got to try it! Simply made, the tomato sauce and anchovies did not overwhelm the toothy texture of the pasta. But also quite light as a result, haha. 4/5

What I was secretly really there for is for the Cacio e pepe spaghetti (S$26) served from a pecorino wheel if there's a minimum order of 2 (but they can make 1 serving if you can do w/o the show even though in the end we got one more to add-on, aiyah). Like I always tell everyone, cacio e pepe (means cheese and pepper) pasta is like the Chinese equivalent of fried rice when it comes to the chef's skills in the kitchen. You need to be really skilled to ensure emulsification takes place properly between the cheese and pasta water (starch) and no cream, butter or oil is ever added. Here it was perfectly executed and NEEDS to be consumed on the spot, warm. The deep, salty and slight funky flavours of the pecorino was so satisfying. I would have easily finished one portion myself. A MUST-TRY. 5/5!

We also added on the Denti Del Drago (S$25), which was green pasta with white ragu sauce. This was also really flavoursome with the brown butter sauce and mushrooms (I think). This is also probably something I would order again as a must-have because of how beautiful the flavours are. 5/5

We got 2 mains to finish off the savoury section of dinner with a very classic but good Eggplant parmigiana (S$26). The cheese and tomato flavours made it very much like a pizza. 4/5

We also got a side of fennel (S$14) with white balsamic and fennel pollen which I think is only for fennel fans, which I realised I am not. HA. 3.5/5

Lastly we chose the Grilled pork collar (S$38) with green asparagus, colatura and parmigiano over the steak or octopus only because we wanted to try more things and a steak would probably have been too heavy, and we already had the Seafood Platter so the octopus was also edged out, though it would surely be good too. The grilled pork collar was the perfect shade of pink and tender to the bite. A very manageable meat dish for us to share! 4/5

Now moving on to the sweet section of the meal with desserts! It's quite smart that they do 2 desserts for $14, and every additional will be +$5. We got 6 out of the 8 desserts (the first fruit one and the fruit crostata got voted off the island) and they were really kind enough to also let one of us get some for takeaway!

They rolled out a dessert trolley for us, which we were eyeing the whole night as it was carted to different tables. The dessert chef also filled up the Cannolis for us on the spot with fresh ricotta.

So just briefly.. we had the Apple Torta, Zeppole with amarena cherries and pastry cream, cannoli with ricotta filled centre dipped in crushed pistachios, soufflé tart with 70% dark chocolate, burrata gelato with strawberry and tomato jam and EVOO and the chocolate sorbet with P125 Guanaja. Amongst the desserts, I felt like the Zeppole, souffle tart and chocolate sorbet were the best of the lot. 

The cannoli was quite average and I realised I did not like the burrata gelato's sweet-salty notes as much. And if you were too full from pasta and all the amazing dishes beforehand, I think the desserts are skippable (I hope that's not blasphemous!!)

Needless to say, Fico is a restaurant I'll gladly make the trek over every chance I get. In fact I'll be returning in July with another bunch of pastafarians to have the food again and am very much looking forward to returning. Top must-haves are the Marzano tomatoes focaccina, Tomino cheese, the Cacio e Pepe Spaghetti and White Ragu pasta.

1300 East Coast Parkway, Carpark F2, Singapore 468964
Tuesdays to Sundays 5.30pm-10.30pm
Lunch Fridays to Sundays 11.30am-3pm
Closed on Mondays
Reservations (CC reservation hold required and they are quite full until August but book it anyway!)

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