Thursday, April 26, 2012

Pietro - MasterChef Peter Neo's New Italian Restaurant

Over the last year or so, I have had the good fortune and opportunity to know and work with Masterchef Peter Neo on a number of occasions, both tasting his great food, and conducting cooking lessons with him.

And it is without doubt that my cooking skills have improved immeasurably from watching him work and cook for his loyal fans and followers.

Despite all that, it was known to me that Chef Peter has always harbored the idea of owning his own establishment, and while the restaurant owners he worked for have profited immensely from Chef Peter's skills, I was also secretly hoping that he will have a restaurant to call his own.

Classic Italian Furnishings

Today, after months of planning, Peter has finally opened his new Italian restaurant, simply named Pietro. Pietro is, of course, Italian for Peter and it is clearly styled after him and his incredible personality.

The place is spacious and comfortable, and yet, never seem aloof or too posh. It is just the perfect place for a family dinner, and despite being in a quiet neighborhood off Yio Chu Kang, it is extremely soothing and a terrific place to chill.

Chef Peter at Work

His kitchen is also equally large in dimensions, and that allows Peter to perform his culinary magic. In the main dining area, he has also included a gas pizza oven and even a table to make fresh ciabatta and other fresh breads. He is certainly very well equipped.

As for the food, it is classic Italian. The menu comprises of classic Italian starters, pizzas, Italian styled mains and his signature pastas. There is too much to go through in one blog post, but I will attempt to summarize his best dishes.

Classic Carbonara 

His classic carbonara still stands out as one of the best, rich in flavors from the bacon and egg yolk, but never too creamy and nicely balanced. The fine pieces of grated parmesan just finishes this dish off delicately.

Seafood Aglo Olio

I mentioned before, that a true pasta chef is tested solely on his aglo olio dish, and Peter's simple but effective seafood aglo olio just rises everyone else's in town.

His mastery of heat and fire can be truly extracted from the plate, and the garlic and seafood pair well together and the flavors nicely extracted from one another.

Do note that Peter tend to cook his pasta in a more traditional manner, meaning its al dente, and you will need to inform him to cook it more soft if you like it more tender like wanton noodles.

Seafood Pasta in Tomato Wrapped in Paper

His signature paper pasta dish is reproduced here in all its glory and visual splendor. The acidity of the tomato paste is just the perfect way to bring out the sweetness of the seafood, and a light touch of herbs finishes it off with a gentle perfume.

Mushroom Risotto

His mushroom risotto has got to be the absolute best in town. Beautiful to look at, and even more delicious to eat. The earthiness of four types of mushrooms he use here are truly evident in every mouthful of this dish.

The risotto is perfectly cooked, gorgeously infused with the mushroom flavors and stock that was used to cook the rice with. It is harder to find a better risotto in Singapore than this one here.

Roasted Pork Belly

One of his famous dishes from his previous places is also found here. The aromatic roasted pork belly that is great as a dish to share among group of diners.

The pork is steamed, then roasted and because of this, it is able to produce a moist and tender meat texture that is lovely and melting. Coupled with a crispy skin and a tangy apple sauce which helps to counter the rich fat, this dish is heavenly.

Breaded Pork Rack

A new dish that Peter has come up for his new place is this excellent breaded pork rack that is not removed from the bone. Nicely seasoned, the pork is still left on the bone that almost resembles a lamb rack.

The meat is perfectly fried until there is a tenderness that surprisingly remains without being too dry or tough. The seasoning is flavorful and the meat is also paired with a fresh apple sauce that Peter cooks from scratch. Beautiful.

Chocolate Fondant with Fruit Fillings

His classic chocolate fondant has been updated with a fruit filling that is interesting, but I still prefer his previous pure chocolate and rum fillings. You can still ask for those if you prefer, but Peter is clearly keen to try with different flavors even for his most famous dishes.

Orange Panna Cotta

Something new that works really well is this orange panna cotta that we both have the privilege to teach at a recent cooking demo. Instead of just pure cream, the infusion of orange flavors gives it a zing and zest that totally transforms the classic Italian dessert.

Paired with a simple but effective raspberry coulis, this dessert will bring a delightful end to a meal that will simply refresh your palate.

Masterchef Peter Neo

Seeing Peter in his element and in the kitchen again, truly is a sight to behold. His dedication to his craft and to his food is unsurpassed. And seeing him in his own establishment is equally gratifying for all the years and hard work he has put into his craft.

In his own place, he still exudes the same charm and friendliness and will often go to the diners personally to solicit feedback and have a chat or two.

While still new, crowds are already starting to come in even despite the location. It goes to show that Peter has a fantastic following that enjoys his food. 

Classic Italian cooking can never be as fancy as modern cuisines that tries to be clever and gimmicky, for at the end of the day, great food is determined by great flavors, and not just great looks.

After being at World Gourmet Summit this week and seeing lemons deconstructed and reconstructed for an entire audience's entertainment, the greatest pleasure is to simply tuck into Chef Peter's food and see the magic being performed in your palate, not on your eyes.

Pietro is a great sign that classic traditions never go away, and modern culinary tricks are just fads of the culinary and gastronomy scene.

Pietro Ristorante Italiano
12 Jalan Kelulut

6 comments:

  1. the pasta and risotto looks good Ian! what are their operating hours?

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  2. they open everyday except mon, for both lunch and dinner, so should be 12noon - 2 and 6 onwards

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  3. Hi, nice post. I have been wondering about this topic, so thanks for sharing. I will certainly be subscribing to your blog.

    ReplyDelete