Posted by Jen Sahi on 14th May 2019.

I’d heard mixed reviews about Torno Subito before my visit but was shocked to see its rating of 2.4 on Zomato. How on earth could a restaurant conceived by acclaimed Italian chef Massimo Bottura and helmed by a protégé who has worked under his wing for nearly a decade get it so wrong?

Massimo Bottura is the owner of Osteria Francescana, current title-holder of the World’s Best Restaurant and winner of three Michelin stars.

However, Torno Subito is a far cry from the intimate fine dining experience you’ll get at his flagship restaurant in Modena – and perhaps unrealistically elevated expectations are why the Zomato reviews are so brutal.

In Torno Subito, the highly creative Massimo Bottura has designed a space for laidback fun dining – not fine dining – which is evident from the bold neon, vivid patterns and splashes of colour that capture the essence of Massimo’s childhood holidays in Rimini. I wish I had childhood memories like that.

You’re drawn even further into the sweet life by an upbeat playlist of popular Italian classics from the 50s and 60s and staff donning cotton candy pastels, many of whom are Italian and speak with melodious lilts. It’s like you’re sitting on a Vespa by the Italian seaside in one of Federico Fellini’s candy-coloured dreams, with nary a care in the world.

And while Torno Subito does not purport to be fine dining, the food is still inventive and delicious. For example, the amuse bouche is inspired by the humble panzanella, with crunchy bread in a tomato cream with Parmigiano-Reggiano foam, while the palate cleanser is a tart cherry sorbet drizzled with 25-year aged balsamic that will make you weak in the knees.

Proper Italian pizza is my weakness and the pizza at Torno Subito is superb as they use a sourdough dough fermented for 48 hours. Though the classic Margherita is a tad thicker in the base than what I prefer, the self-named Torno Subito focaccia, which has an even thicker base still, is out-of-this-world topped with stracciatella, bresaola, and a sweet apple honey.

The Modena Salad combines a soft and buttery salanova lettuce with 14 ingredients spanning Modena to Dubai. The Baccalà pairs the popular salted cod with chickpea cream, chickpea crackers, hazelnuts and a porcini mushroom broth.

Seafood lovers will enjoy the Pasta Misto, a saucy pasta with mussels, langoustines, clams, shrimp, bottarga and lemon-scented charcoal breadcrumbs. The Polpo is an unconventional dish of tender grilled octopus in a flavourful pea sauce with pickled carrot and beetroot that works surprisingly well. Even the simplest side, Carciofi Alla Romana, a traditional slow-cooked artichoke with garlic and parsley, is elevated in its preparation and presentation.

For dessert, the Tiramisubito is a unique reinterpretation of the classic Italian tiramisu with a light mascarpone foam, brownie bites, espresso, coffee gelato and pieces of meringue.

If you love Italian food and fancy a slice of La Dolce Vita, disregard the mediocre reviews and go to Torno Subito. Just leave your Michelin-star expectations at home.

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