Singaporeans are well-known for their passionate love of food. In fact, it could be said to be something of a national obsession – physically manifesting itself in that 30 minute queue for the best hawker stall, confusingly customisable kopi or someone enthusiastically knocking back a stinky durian. Just about every country’s cuisine is represented somewhere on the island (often with a local twist) making Singapore a fantastic place for anyone who likes experimenting with food, trying new things and trading recommendations for the best eats.
So with all of this in mind, we’ve decided to explore Singapore’s varied culinary scene with a new regular feature. A big welcome to Panda Peeks – our restaurant review series where we send members of team foodpanda to check out Singapore’s best and brightest places to eat.
We’re kicking off Panda Peeks with a visit to Italy, although not literally. In fact, it’s a trip all the way to exotic Circular Road and renowned Italian restaurant Marco Marco – foodpanda’s Chao and Trina on the case.
Tucked away in one of the shop houses along Circular Road by Boat Quay, Marco Marco offers a range of traditional Italian fare from pizza to pasta, salad to paninis. What isn’t typical about this restaurant however, is their innovative and diverse interpretations of the well-loved classics. Take The Osaka, for example. This pizza is topped with teriyaki chicken invoking a taste of Japan.
The Jaipur, a pasta dish, is linguine topped with tandoori chicken, paneer and a spicy masala sauce. In fact, all of the dishes on the menu are named after the city or region that inspired them. It’s a great idea, although maybe someone can explain the logic behind The Melbourne (pepperoni, ham, bacon and pepper) and The San Francisco (grilled vegetables, olives and parmesan).
The restaurant itself is unpretentious and casual featuring a slightly rustic interior with exposed brickwork. Overall, there’s a trendy, edgy feel to the place. For the meal, the chef gave Chao and Trina some top recommendations.
1 | Main courses
– The Singapore –
Prawns and beancurd in laksa cream
This was the obvious choice from the menu, at least for anyone who’s curious about the Italian take on Singaporean cuisine. The spicy, laksa-flavoured sauce is fantastically innovative and offers a unique experience when combined with pasta. The beancurd and the fresh, crunchy prawns complete the dish nicely. One small complaint is the rather limited portion size, but overall this is an amazing choice that effectively captures Singaporean flavours in a classically Italian dish.
– The Roma –
Creamless carbonara bacon, parmesan, egg yolk
You might have thought that a creamless carbonara would be too dry, but Marco Marco make it work by using an egg that gives a balanced thick texture to the pasta without being too runny or wet. The intensely flavoured cheese and bacon topping complemented the pasta perfectly. Definitely the more Italian option in our taste test, although to be expected from a dish named after the Eternal City.
– The Palermo –
Ham, mushroom, truffle oil
This was good. Really, good. This pizza in the classic Italian style was generously topped with plenty of meat and cheese, and featured a thin crust with a light, fluffy interior and a slightly charred outside. Compared with the typical fast food varieties, this light version is a welcome alternative for those who find the former’s dough too heavy. The pizza was drizzled with truffle oil. While this is something that can very easily be overdone, here it was added with a great balance and wasn’t overwhelming.
2 | Dessert
Our testers had no space left for dessert, so finished up with a cappuccino. Marco Marco have the popular and delicious Sexy Coffee, made famous by the Hangar Roasters on Arab Street. A nice pick-me-up after the meal.
3 | Panda Picks
So, what’s the verdict? Chao, like any proud Singaporean goes for…The Singapore. The creamy, laksa sauce was too good to resist.
Trina’s vote goes to The Roma for it’s unusual quality. A creamless carbonara seems strange at first, but the dish was really excellent.
Overall, Marco Marco is a fantastic choice for a meal out. The happy hour promos and lunch sets are certainly worth a visit, but the real selling point is the interesting, innovative menu. Fusion meals are not the easiest to come by, especially pasta, and that alone would be a great incentive for our testers to make a return visit.
That’s the end of our first Panda Peeks. Check back soon for more.
Marco Marco Singapore
Address: 23 Circular Road, Singapore, 049379
Opening hours: 11:30 – 20:30
Follow this link to order online.
See map below for directions: