Da Paolo Gastronomia Great World can deliver pleasant surprises
Now that the world is slowly opening up, I have started making tentative plans for a return to Italy.
While I wait to see Florence again in real life and eat wonderful pasta, finding Italian food in Singapore is the next best thing.
Da Paolo opened in 1989 and has weathered many storms, even emerging from the pandemic with a new outlet at Great World.
Da Paolo Gastronomia Great World is a new multi-concept experience. It features all-day dining on top of a full retail selection set against the backdrop of Tuscany decor.
My big gripe with this outlet is that not all dishes are available at all times, such as the Avocado Toast ($12) which is an exclusive breakfast item.
This is available daily only between 8am and 11am, and while you would find this item in almost every cafe from Siglap to Bukit Timah, the version here just has that special kick.
The avocado is whipped and light; lemon adds some acidity, while chives provide texture. It is served on sourdough.
Even better is the Scrambled Eggs On Toast ($11), also available only between 8am and 11am. This uses cage-free eggs, with Parmigiano-Reggiano, chives and black pepper on homemade sourdough. The egg is appropriately creamy and fluffy.
You can order this with a fried egg too, but scrambled over fried, right?
An outlet exclusive is the Panini Italiani - and the Salami & Sundried Tomatoes ($18) version is hearty and bold. The combination of texture and flavours works beautifully.
You get a choice of bread, and the filling is salami, sundried tomato mayonnaise, caramelised onions and provolone cheese.
For $4, you can add a side of truffle fries, otherwise it comes with fries or a salad.
This is available on weekdays between 11am and 5pm.
The Homemade Meatballs ($14) is a classic menu item and is available from 11am to 10pm.
To me, this is comfort food perfect for any time. The beef is just fatty enough to be decadent, but the tomato sauce balances it out.
I also like that the meatballs can be purchased from the Grab & Go section. And there is an Impossible plant-based version ($16) for those who want a meatless meal.
You should never leave an Italian restaurant without a pasta meal. Even if you are cutting back on carbs, the Spaghettone Carbonara ($25) should remain a consideration.
It features nduja, fresh egg yolks and pecorino cheese, and the creaminess with a tinge of spice makes this a standout. It is dense but not overwhelming, and it made me ache for Italy.
Da Paolo might not appeal to everyone but if you have not eaten there before, give it a chance. Especially with the range of dishes available at the Great World outlet, you may leave pleasantly surprised.