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Food review: Chef Denis Lucchi of Michelin-starred Buona Terra cooks from the heart

Jasmine Alimin
Jasmine Alimin • 5 min read
Food review: Chef Denis Lucchi of Michelin-starred Buona Terra cooks from the heart
We review Buona Terra's winter menu inspired by Chef Denis Lucchi's favourite family recipes.
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Celebrating a decade of contemporary Italian gastronomy is one-Michelin-starred Buona Terra, which is debuting a new tasting menu to suit its spanking new interiors. The menu features the extraordinary cuisine of resident chef Denis Lucchi, who is also celebrating his 10th year at the helm.

At this fine dining establishment nestled in the wing of a colonial black-and-white bungalow, Lombardy-born Lucchi presents cuisine shaped by his childhood memories of Northern Italian cooking and fuelled by innovation. Through his training at some of the most premier restaurants in London and Rome as well as Gattopardo and Garibaldi in Singapore, he’s developed his own authentic style that is both homely and yet elevated, with flavours that are familiar, complex and very much current.

Established in 2012 by The Connoisseur Concerto (TCC) Group, Buona Terra received its first Michelin star in 2019, which it successfully retained last year. The 24-seater restaurant underwent a makeover last September and now sports a lighter brighter colour palette of soft blush with botanical motifs, cocoon-like cove lighting and walls accented with Roman pillars, wall art and elegant mirrors. The floor-to-ceiling glass windows have also done away with curtains to allow more natural light to flood in and enlarge the cosy space.

To showcase the finest produce of winter, Lucchi has selected ingredients such as Europe-imported puntarelle, salsify and citruses for his current menu, now available till end-March. Diners can choose from the four-course lunch menu ($118), five-course Buona Terra Lunch Experience ($158), and five-course Buona Terra Chef Experience ($198) for dinner. All menus include a warm bread basket, snacks and petit fours. Wine pairings start from $58 for the four-course lunch, and $168 for the lunch and dinner experiences.

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As part of our tasting, we try the five-course dinner experience which begins with a delightful trio of snacks: Squid Ink Tart featuring a fresh hairy crab served in blackened pie tee shell; Cuttlefish Salad laid on top a crunchy feuille de brick; and Just Tomato featuring cold tomato gazpacho soup encased in hardened cocoa butter “tomatoes” served on an edible vine.

For the first course, a conservative serving of amberjack carpaccio is presented on a very large dish garnished with Calabrian mandarin orange segments, confit Buddha’s hand, citrus caviar, briny Salicornia and horseradish snow. More summery than wintry we feel, the fish is a little too cold for our liking but makes up for its multi-dimensional taste profile.

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The second course is the Scampi — one of our favourites — featuring bincho-grilled Mozambique langoustine overlaid with a translucent sheath of meltingly moreish lardo and served with a little piece of gem lettuce (normally puntarelle, but they were out that night). The aromatic baugna cauda anchovy sauce is an umami-bomb of flavour that gave the whole dish a comforting warmth.

One of the more unusual dishes of the night is the Rombo, featuring brown butter poached French turbot and Sicilian red prawns encased in Swiss chard and topped with Calvisius black caviar. A brothy dill sauce is poured in to give the dish a flavourful fusion of oceanic, nutty and herbaceous notes.

As a nice interlude in-between protein dishes, we’re presented with a tasting portion of creamy spaghetti — the chef’s take on the classic carbonara. He uses high-quality Mancini spaghetti and tosses in an addictive parmesan cheese broth with cured guanciale garnished with Perigord black truffle. If this was served as an à la carte dish, it would make for the perfect lunch- time treat!

The showstopper is the succulent Irish duck which takes centrestage in the Anatra. Dry-aged for 10 days, the duck breast is bincho-grilled bone-in to perfect doneness with a beautiful red-hue on the inside. To make the tangy-sweet sauce that pairs well with the meat, moscato is blended into a reduction of simmering duck bones. And for a dose of umami goodness, morel mushrooms are sauteed with garlic, butter and chicken stock. To showcase the vegetable salsify, it is presented in puree form or deep-fried into crisps. Lucchi marries flavour, aroma and texture so effortlessly and organically — this is undoubtedly the headliner of the night.

Ending on a sweet note, we try the Torta de Mele, an Italian apple pie featuring a blend of poached and sauteed apples that sit on a baked wafer and topped with an espuma of vanilla cream. It’s served with house-made vanilla ice-cream which was equally delicious and mouth-watering.

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For those who wish to pair their menu with wines, Buona Terra boasts an extensive collection of up to 300 Italian and Burgundy fine wine labels expertly curated by wine director Gabriele Rizzardi. Incidentally, Rizzardi is also one of the first few sommeliers in Singapore to bring in natural and biodynamic wines, including rare Italian orange wines which are aged in unusual vessels like terracotta or cement.

As a nice post-dinner digestif, diners also have the option to add on a whisky flyer featuring four drams from each decade from the 1960s to 1990s.

Buona Terra
29 Scotts Road, Singapore 228224
Tel: +65 9456 3147

Opening hours:
Mondays to Fridays: 12–3pm | 6:30–10:30pm
Saturdays: 6:30–10:30pm
Closed on Sundays and public holidays

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