This restaurant is a hidden gem that serves authentic Italian fare at pocket-friendly prices

Photo: PocoLoco
Photo: PocoLoco

When we think about Italian food, what comes to mind is usually: expensive restaurants with a strict dress code, meant to be saved for celebrating special occasions. Well, PocoLoco’s here to challenge that notion, and presenting the case for treating yourself as and when you feel like it. This new establishment is a casual yet classy dining spot that serves delicious Italian fare. From the ingredients, down to the preparation methods of each dish and even the wine served, PocoLoco is committed to delivering authentic Italian food to the masses.

This restaurant chain serves a plethora of dishes to suit every taste, from Italian classics such as fettuccine carbonara and squid ink risotto to innovative modern pastas that are topped with mentaiko and uni. Besides using only fresh ingredients directly imported from Italy, none of the pasta sauces at Pocoloco are pre-made, but are instead freshly prepared upon order. It’s a difference you’ll be able to taste, and worthy of you putting that New Year’s resolution diet on hold.

Each outlet has a different menu as well, which means you’ll never run out of options whenever you’re feeling like Italian. Some of PocoLoco’s best-selling dishes worth the trek include fettuccine with crabmeat in a tomato and cream sauce, spaghetti in squid ink sauce and risotto with porcini mushroom. 

We headed down to their Novena branch recently, so read on to see which dishes we tried and loved. 

Photo: PocoLoco
Photo: PocoLoco

PocoLoco’s got soup-er selections, and we opted for the Mushroom Soup (SG$5.40). Their rendition of this classic comfort food is not overly creamy. It’s made with an assortment of mushrooms, including portobello mushrooms blended with vegetable stock, and finished off with a few drops of truffle oil. It’s the perfect choice for vegetarians — and anyone with taste buds, really.

Photo: PocoLoco
Photo: PocoLoco

There’s nothing better to whet the appetite with than this starter of Gamberi (SG$9.50), a dish of prawns sauteed in butter, lemon and garlic. The lemon lends a tinge of tanginess to the dish, allowing for the freshness of the prawns to take centre stage. They definitely don’t scrimp on the shrimp, even at this affordable price point. Sure, it may not be the sexiest thing to eat on date night, but one bite and you’ll see why it’s worth it — and we’re sure your date will agree.

Photo: PocoLoco

Truffle lovers, this one’s for you. You’ll pick up on the unmistakable scent of truffle the second this dish reaches your table. This Cold Capellini Pasta with Fresh Sea Urchin (SG$21.40) is a dish best served cold, and you’ll have to taste it yourself to realize exactly why. It comprises fresh Hokkaido scallops and uni seated atop an artistically twirled mound of chilled angel hair pasta. Every forkful was packed with potent truffle flavour. Make sure to get a bit of pasta, scallop and uni all in one bite.

Photo: PocoLoco
Photo: PocoLoco

This pasta definitely puts the “ooh” in uni. Fans of this mollusk will love getting tangled in this Tagliolini with Fresh Sea Urchin (SG$21.40). This sea urchin pasta packs a flavorful punch, with a dollop of uni on top for good measure. 

The pasta sauce is made with fresh sea urchin paste and has a subtle yet pleasant sweetness to it. For a casual dining spot, PocoLoco manages to impress by serving fresh pasta, and the choice of tagliolini (tagliatelle’s skinnier cousin) was the perfect complement to the texture of the sauce.

Photo: PocoLoco
Photo: PocoLoco

For those with carnivorous inclinations, the Manzo (SG$14.90) is a must. It’s a fettuccine with beef in a delightfully garlicky truffle cream sauce — a warmly welcomed departure from the line-up of seafood pastas so far. Prepare to be wowed by perfectly al dente strands of fettuccine coated in a cream sauce, topped with tender, bite-sized chunks of beef. The dish was finished off with a sprinkling of parsley that helped to brighten up the entire dish.

Photo: PocoLoco
Photo: PocoLoco

There’s no reason not to end the meal on a sweet note, and what better way to do this than with the Italian classic of Tiramisu (SG$8.50)? PocoLoco’s rendition comes served in a cup, with a base made of savoiardi biscuits shards — some of which still retained a bit of crunch even after being soaked in strong espresso and rum. The light and fluffy whipped mascarpone cream provided a welcome contrast in texture, which coupled with the light dusting of cocoa powder, made for quite the satisfying spoonful and a great way to end off the meal.

Photo: PocoLoco
Photo: PocoLoco

This casual dining spot has a cozy ambience and you can dress up or down for dinner here, depending on the occasion. There’s also a private dining room for bigger celebrations, so you can host all kinds of events, from birthdays to company dinners. 

PocoLoco has several low-key locations across the island — perfect for those of you who detest hectic dinnertime crowds, or if you’re simply looking for a chill night out with your loved ones. PocoLoco restaurants are family-friendly too, so feel free to bring the little ones.

Find it: 

PocoLoco Upper Thomson

215f Upper Thomson Road

Singapore 574349

Tel: +65 8436 3363

PocoLoco @ Snow City

21 Jurong Town Hall Road, Level 2

Singapore 609433

Tel: +65 8866 4646

PocoLoco @ Royal Square@Novena

103 Irrawaddy Road, #02-08 

Singapore 329565

Tel: +65 8699 6664

Head over to their website for their full menu and other information.

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