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Uncover stories behind the latest episodic menu at neo-Italian restaurant Art

Jasmine Alimin
Jasmine Alimin5/10/2022 10:40 PM GMT+08  • 6 min read
Uncover stories behind the latest episodic menu at neo-Italian restaurant Art
Art refines traditional Italian cooking to seamlessly blend the past with the future through artful storytelling
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Less than a year after joining Art as executive chef, Daniele Sperindio bagged a Michelin star in 2021 for the progressive Italian fine dining restaurant formerly helmed by founder-restaurateur chef Beppe De Vito of the ilLido Group.

Who is this culinary genius, you may wonder. Sperindio began his cooking career at the tender age of 13 in his hometown of Genoa, Italy. No stranger to working for the top echelons of the food and beverage industry, he has trained and worked at Michelin-starred restaurants like Antica Osteria del Bai in Genoa, Alinea in Chicago and Narisawa in Tokyo — as well as award-winning Tippling Club and Atlas in Singapore. Nominated several times for awards at the World Gourmet Summit Awards of Excellence, Sperindio joined the ilLido Group as group executive chef in 2020. He manages the group’s seven dining concepts, one of which is Art restaurant located on the rooftop of National Gallery Singapore.

As executive chef of Art, he brings his special brand of progressive neo-Italian cuisine to the fore, where his heritage, whimsical stories and delicious memories make up the “content” for his episodic tasting menus. “Beyond an expression of the land, there is a lot of cultural background and family tradition behind the food of Italy. I want each plate to tell a story, to offer food for thought — it is what I call ‘conversational cuisine’,” says Sperindio.

He continues: “Italian cuisine is rooted in deep heritage, and the produce has a distinguished provenance that makes it sought-after by the best chefs around the world. There is definitely room for more elevated fine dining Italian restaurants.”

Not one to rest on his laurels, Sperindio is an enthusiastic life-long learner who got himself certified as a sommelier by the US Sommeliers Association, and is currently studying for his MBA with Warwick Business School. “F&B is one of the oldest trades in time, and restaurateurs used to be blue-collar workers — not necessarily people who have studied business modelling and strategies. It might still be a passion-driven trade, but we can better manage the business through strategic planning and being future-ready,” he says.

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In his latest degustation menu called An Italian Tale: Chapter 2 — an immersive dining concept that helped propel the restaurant towards its first Michelin star — Sperindio reinvents and refines traditional Italian cooking to seamlessly blend the past with the future through artful storytelling.

Presented as a six-course tasting menu at $208++ per person, or an eight-course menu at $258++, available for lunch and dinner, this new chapter of An Italian Tale is a stellar presentation of flavours, ingredients and plating, with stories and personal narratives to match.

Shaped like fish scales, the Colazione Nei Campi is a refreshing first dish that features pear and artichokes as the main ingredients, which is inspired by Sperindio’s late grandfather who enjoyed a simple breakfast of pear and bread (and occasionally artichokes) before tending the fields as a farmer.

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A dish that’s almost too beautiful to eat is the Cameo — a “grown-up” version of panna cotta which is chef’s favourite childhood dessert. Rather than serve it sweet, he created this whimsical work of art offering savoury caramelised cauliflower cream pudding topped with pecan-smoked royal oscietra caviar, and “drunken” renette apples lightly poached in a Sangiovese broth, melding simple joys with refined luxuries.

For something recognisably Italian, Sperindio serves a tasting portion of Oro Colato (“molten gold”), featuring bright yellow 32-egg yolk tagliarini infused with saffron, a spice often used in Italian cooking and one that the chef was exposed to in his early culinary years. He flavours the dish with a moreish spanner crab sauce topped with bafun sea urchins, cedro (citron) pearls and zest of reganisso (liquorice stick) — a nostalgic flavour for Sperindio who grew up chewing liquorice sticks.

There’s even a fun “clean-up” dish called Scarpetta, A Way of Living, inspired by the act of mopping up leftover pasta sauce with a piece of bread. This one, which you can finish in two mouthfuls, combines three classic sauces: San Marzano cream, bolognese and puttanesca. It’s flavoured with pasta essence, and served with a cheesy foam of parmigiano and semolina bread known as Altamura.

The Christmas Dinner is a comforting creation of stuffed Italian dumplings served in a warm broth, which reminds the chef of mealtimes during the festive season. “Usually everyone is still stuffed from the lavish Christmas lunch (which probably ends at 5pm), therefore it is the preferred choice to serve a lighter stuffed pasta in broth for dinner,” he explains. His rendition features Culurgiones stuffed with a leek cream in- spired by his vacations in Sardinia, and served in a pressurised corn broth — a flavour that he learned to love during his vocation in Chicago.

For protein dishes, I highly recommend On the Shinkansen, a dish that reflects Sperindio’s days working in Japan. Dry-aged for three days and pan-seared with aromatic Italian herbs, the guinea fowl is topped with a slice of goose liver and crunchy bits of guinea fowl skin. The Japanese element in the dish is the bamboo shoot from Kyoto which is lightly braised and served with a sweet-savoury aged celeriac jus.

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To cleanse the palate, I enjoyed the crisp and clear notes of Pollice Verde (“green thumb”), made from all local vegetables featuring a snow-like granita of dill and fennel.

For dessert, the Crescendo offers a cute detail — tiny forks, spoons and knives made of edible rice paper — one that I only noticed upon closer inspection. This clever creation is inspired by Italian kids’ favourite Fruttolo, a fruit-flavoured yoghurt-cheese snack. Sperindio turns his version into a sweet-salty “breakfast bowl” of stracciatella cheese, candied black olives, blood orange and pistachio.

To best enjoy this mini novella of modern Italian delights, I recommend booking a table which looks out to Marina Bay’s wondrous cityscape. The majestic view, coupled with the artful play by play of edible stories, is definitely a narrative that we’re only too happy to revisit.

Art
1 St Andrew’s Road #06-02 National Gallery Singapore 178957
Tel: +65 6866 1977
Email: [email protected]
www.artrestaurant.sg

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