My first taste of Chef Marco’s warmth came way before my review session at Perbacco. When I went there for lunch with my boss, I wasn’t expecting the chef to come out of the kitchen to talk to everyone in the dining area. Marco was so friendly and quick with his suggestions, coming up with dishes on the spot after asking us about our preferences and dietary restrictions (one of us was a vegetarian). When the dishes came back out, all I could say was that I could feel Marco’s love for food meant he left a touch of magic on everything that came out of his kitchen.
After tasting the authentic Italian flavours from their la carte menu, I was curious to know more about the place and people. After a flurry of emails, I was able to sneak in a little sit down with Perbacco’s head chef and founder, Marco Violano, before dinner.
Having travelled the world cooking for the Four Seasons Hotel Group, the experienced chef decided to settle into cosmopolitan Singapore with a focus on serving authentic, heartfelt Italian fare inspired by his hometown of Puglia in Italy. During our conversation, Marco sort of lamented the lack of fresh ingredients these days. He reminisced about opening the fridge back home as a child and pulling out fresh tomatoes and carrots, of being able to find good meats to supplement his menu at the drop of a hat.
When I asked him about his style, he specifically mentioned “Mama’s style” of cooking. The story is that his mother wasn’t a very good cook but his father had very demanding tastebuds. So she kept improvising, tuning the flavour profiles of her food to suit everyone in the home. Add that constant search for perfection with the endless search for quality ingredients, and you have Chef Marco’s style.
Displaying classic Italian hospitality, Chef Marco sat me down and came up with a degustation menu for me, right on the spot. While the a la carte menu is classic Italian, with pastas, risottos, raviolis and some very scrumptious seafood, you have to ask Chef Marco for his recommendations in order to really bring your tastebuds on a rollercoaster. Of course, before I started eating, I would had an aperitif!
Marco started me off heavy with a special bruschetta, topped with soft buratta cheese. He added sun-dried tomatoes to give it a slight tang. The focaccia base was crunchy, adding a juxtaposition to the softness of the buratta cheese.
Marco followed that up with a savoury pork sausage with veal jus. Some people might think that veal jus would lend a gamey aspect to the sausage, but the jus was done just right, lending the sausage extra flavour. Guys, the feeling of biting into the sausage and having the flavour burst in your mouth is amazing.
Now that my tummy and tastebuds were primed for the main course, Marco cut loose with a Pork Ragout Pasta. The sauce was perfect, the handmade pasta had the right consistency and the pork was scrumptious!
Chef Marco had one more treat for me: A very satisfying Panna Cotta. You can still see the black dots from the vanilla beans that he added into this one, which adds a unique fragrance to the dessert.
I feel like Chef Marco puts his heart and soul into the food, and you can totally taste the effort. It’s a huge difference from the usual “rinse-and-repeat” high street restaurants, mostly because Chef Marco’s touch is in every dish that comes out of the kitchen.
It’s surprisingly well-priced too. For such presentation, ingredients and effort, a typical dinner at Perbacco wouldn’t go over $90++ per person and executive set lunch starts at $28++. Wine is available by the glass from $9++ onwards but I’d opt for full bottles that start at $42++. That’s superb value, considering that there is professional staff on hand to decant and pour the wine for you.
If you’re looking for truly authentic, heartfelt Italian cuisine that’s served with panache, PerBacco should be your next go-to spot. It’s great for a gathering among friends or dinner date with that special someone but remember to call ahead as it fills up on the weekends during meal times.
Wanna know more? Here are the details…
Name: PerBacco Enoteca con Cucina
Address: 20 Craig Road, #01-03, Craig Place