SINGAPORE — You can tell that kitchen technology has evolved just by looking at the sheer number of open-flame-open-kitchen outfits sprouting about town like mushrooms after the rain. Even braver are restaurants that design its mise en scene such that the diner is seated in full view of the action, where one can feast on beautifully grilled food while the eyes partake in a show of open flames leaping excitedly from hot, burning charcoal. All this with nary an odour stuck to one’s clothes. Those exhausts are powerful, trust and believe, never letting a single whiff of smoke out of its sight.
Joining the fray is Griglia at Neil Road, an outdoor grill cook-out located within the confines of a 41-seater restaurant in a 3-storey conservation shophouse. Its moniker takes inspiration from the Grigliata, that thing Italians love to do when summer descends—eat outside, cooking food over hot coals and flame to coax out its inherent natural flavours.
Although treated with a cooking method that’s fierce, bold, and intense, Grigliata dishes are known to be more delicate and lean on Mediterranean flavours. It runs the gamut from meats, seafood, fish, and seasonal vegetables and fruits seasoned simply with herbs, salt and pepper, dressed with olive oil marinades and liberal squeezes of all things citrus.
At Griglia, Head Chef Federico Schiraldi takes rightful place as Gastro Commander-in-Chief, tasked with firing up dishes based on classic grigliata dishes from different regions of Italy. The menu is categorised according to the origins of the main ingredients, commencing with a plate of Eggplant (S$15++) from the ‘Garden’ section, served in a pair of perfect blocks, stacked and pressed with sweet tomatoes and basil. It is served with a Smoked Caciocavallo Fondue that is oodles of smokey fun, though I wouldn’t mind if it were bolder in its execution.
Elsewhere, there’s a Burratina (S$16++) that’s too pretty to be rushed in its consumption. A pleasantly plain burratina sits on a bed of grilled and then rolled Zucchini generously marinated with mint, salt, pepper, and white balsamic vinegar. All this went into a fragile tart round and served with flowers for some measure of glam.
To round off the ‘Garden’ segment of the program is a plate of Spaghetti di Martino (S$18++) that reminds me so much of the version at Zafferano. It’s no coincidence that then Griglia is a project by the same people behind Zafferano, which means that this is one mean plate of noodles—which it is. It sits on a cream of grilled Datterino tomato and served with brined tomatoes which is the only way I’d eat tomatoes now, let that be known.
From the ‘Sea’, Hiika Squid (S$18++) makes a debut and is lightly dressed with salmoriglio and elegantly grilled. It comes served with a yummy Nduja cream and grilled Palermo peppers which is essentially like having three appetisers in one plate.
I also liked the Hokkaido Scallops Crudo (S$22++) served on a bed of corn and leeks that are so impressively and naturally sweet. There’s a rustic feel to this presentation with texture—it’s not something you usually get with Scallops-anything I reckon. Scallops, as an ingredient, so readily absorb anything thrown to it, so I’m not the least bit surprised that the smokiness in this comes through from start to end.
The ‘Land’ portion comes by way of a praiseworthy albeit slightly predictable Grass-Fed Wagyu Striploin MBS 3/4(S$68++/200 grams) cooked till blushing pink in the centre and fiercely charred outside. It’s served with a red wine jus, garlic sauce, pickled mustard, and pickled lettuce, although the only thing you should do with these meats is to liberally sprinkle some of the salt and have it as is. Wagyu doesn’t demand anything more usually.
I think the Whole Spanish Turbot (S$58++/400g, S$98++/800g) is more worthy of praise since it’s not often you get fabulously flaky fish served simply grilled and seasoned with a side of Almalfi lemon seasoning. I enjoyed this the most on this night simply because fish by nature can be such a bother to work with. Any restaurant that can give me good fish deserves accolades.
Desserts come by way of the Capri in a Cake (S$12++) featuring the same Amalfi lemon from before, here, made into a lovely cream, sandwiched between two halves of flourless almond cake. The cake made sans flour only means you can eat more of this without all the guilt. Remember also to take liberal swipes at the extra virgin olive oil ice cream, which tastes much better than it sounds—like vanilla ice cream but with more depth. And who wouldn’t love that, am I right?
37 Craig Road, S089675
Mon to Fri: 12nn – 3pm, 6pm – 10.30pm
Sat: 6pm – 10.30pm