With the takeover of commercial machines being used to process pasta at most Italian food joints, authentic and traditional pasta may be hard to come by. However, the new homegrown Italian concept in Joo Chiat, Forma, brings traditional pasta-making techniques to the East of Singapore.
Forma is a new upscale trattoria by The Cicheti Group and is helmed by Yumhwa Lee of Ben Fatto, who is touted as Singapore’s foremost pasta artisan. Forma prides itself on its pasta preparation methods that pre-date modern machinery.
Forma’s atmosphere is classy yet inviting, with warm, romantic lighting adorning the cosy space. The most notable part about the restaurant’s design is the glass-encased pasta production kitchen, where diners can watch as the pasta is hand-crafted and shaped, both within the dining room and from the front pavement.
In true Italian fashion, Forma offers dishes from all courses of a traditional Italian meal: Antipasti (starters), Pasta (first course), Secondi (main course) and Dolci (desserts).
Start your meal with the wide selection of Antipasti, like the Polpette di Baccalà (S$21), which are Sicilian fried salted cod balls with mashed potato, alepo chilli and lemon aioli.
A vegetarian option would be the Fiori Di Zucca Fritti (S$26), made with fried zucchini blossoms, stracciatella and lemon zest. I was pleasantly surprised at the intense, strong flavours from this dish.
I found the Prosciutto di San Daniele e Melone (S$24) to be the most interesting dish with its strong contrasting flavours, as it featured sweet, grilled Philibon melon, jalapeño jam, saporoso balsamic vinegar and fennel pollen atop a heap of salty prosciutto di san daniele.
The next course, consisting of the pasta dishes, did not disappoint. The different pasta types are all made traditionally at Forma, and I was treated to an unfettered view of the pasta chef laboriously individually hand-rolling pieces of busiate through the glass of the pasta production kitchen.
Pastas offered at Forma include the Busiate con Pesto alla Trapanese (S$28), a flavourful pesto dish dating back to the ancient town of Trapani in Western Sicily, and Struncatura Ammollicata (S$32), once called a “poor man’s dish” as it used to be made with residual wheat mills swept from the floor and peddled to the most destitute people in Reggio Calabria— but rest assured that Forma’s version of this dish is definitely made with fresh wheat mills!
The Tortellini in Brodo (S$34) surprised me the most with its incredible complex flavour. Despite its relatively simple appearance, each handmade tortellini was stuffed with a savoury combination of Mortadella di Bologna, Prosciutto Crudo, Parmagiano Reggiano and pork. Balanced with a light chicken brodo, I fell in love with this dish.
Forma’s Secondi dishes include a variety of proteins, including fish, pork and beef. Merluzzo alla Scafata (S$42) is a crispy Umbrian-style pan-seared blue cod paired with fava beans, English peas, cipollini onions, prosciutto and cucielo vermouth-butter sauce.
Meanwhile, the off-menu special, Bistecca di Tomahawk (S$248) features a 55 day dry-aged grass-fed Tomahawk from Australia with a guaranteed minimum marbling score of MB4+. This was undoubtedly the standout dish of the night, as the beef was tender yet rich with a smokey, charred aroma.
Pair the Tomahawk with three sauces, costing S$5 each: the Homemade Steak Sauce, Mustard Salse Verde or Porcini Gremolata, each offering different, strong flavour profiles that complement the meat.
Forma’s delightful desserts are the perfect ending to a savoury meal. Citrus lovers will adore the sweet and tangy Crostata al Limone di Amalfi (S$16), a delicate tart made with amalfi lemon gel, amalfi lemon curd and fruit tea jelly.
Meanwhile, the Torta della Nonna (S$18), a buttery Tuscan tart filled with ricotta, chestnut paste and pine nuts impressed me with its crumbly, melt-in-the-mouth texture and smooth, fragrant interior. The warm tart is paired with a side of cold vanilla gelato, and is a must-try dessert.
With its premium selection of authentic Italian dishes, my night at Forma was unlike any other I’ve experienced. This high-end trattoria certainly gave me a taste of Italy that I will never forget.
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