The name, Caffé B, misleads one into perceiving this establishment as a casual café – Caffé being enunciated as Café, while Caffè is the Italian word for coffee – but what’s in store will take you by surprise.
Beyond this elegant-yet-industrial-chic portal, surrounded by luxury brands in the basement of Marina Bay Sands, lies an 80-seater fine dining Italian restaurant.
It’s not surprising to discover subtle Japanese influences in their Italian cuisine. The owner of Caffé B is Japanese, while the chef hails from Italy. A Japanese chef used to hold the reins in the kitchen until recent times, so if you have come across previous reviews regarding their Japanese chef, that is history.
Its rustic yet well-appointed interior combines Japanese and European elements.
The dimly lit chandeliers create a romantic and classy ambience.
Some may express their dissent towards the ‘No Child (under 12) Policy’, but young couples on their first dates will highly appreciate this practice. No more wailing kids disrupting your meal.
Focaccia Bread with Olive Dip
Upon getting seated, we were served warm focaccia bread. Love the glossy sheen, and the slightly chewy interior.
Many restaurants serve their breads with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. At Caffé B, olive vegetables are processed into an almost paste-like condiment. You soak up the bread with olive oil and scoop up a little of that paste –what a delight!
Amuse Bouche –Mixed Vegetable and Turkey Ratatouille
The amuse bouche, compliment of the chef, sets the tone. What amuses the mouth and invigorates the palate before the first course arrives, offers a glimpse into the chef’s culinary approach.
With so many alluring items on the menu, we had a tough struggle deciding what we want.
Trio di Carpacci Pesce ($26)
The Trio di Carpacci Pesce is a trio of:
- Tuna Fillet with Orange and Grapefruit Marmalade and Lemon Dressing
- Salmon Fillet, Carrot and Yellow Sweet Pepper Brunoise, Soya dressing topped with Caviar Pearls
- Red Snapper Fillet, Tomato and Basil Concassé, Balsamic Dressing
This platter of antipasti exhibits Japanese influence –sashimi style. Caffé B upped its ante by imparting counterbalancing flavours through various dressings that complement the fish beautifully.
The Salmon Fillet is my favourite component, followed by the Tuna Fillet closely. The Red Snapper Fillet, however, carried a slight fishiness that its dressing did not manage to mask.
Aragosta Caffé B ($40)
The Aragosta Caffé B consists of two lobster components and salad:
– Fresh Live Boston Lobster on Light Pumpkin Cream with Tomato “Pom” Jelly topped with Caviar Pearls
– Lobster on Avocado Sauce with Tomato “Pom” Jelly, topped with White Wine Air Bubble and Caviar Pearls
– Orange and Fennel Mint Salad
The lobster is of pristine quality, sweet of the ocean, and obviously was at the peak of good health. The white wine foam coats your palate as you savour the different layers of flavours and textures that commingle beautifully.
Both lobster components arrive atop Tomato “Pom” Jelly that boasts unadulterated tomato flavours. Sandwiched between are two condiments that set the two components apart: Pumpkin Cream and Avocado Sauce –both with unique qualities boasting velvety richness that doesn’t overpower.
Degustazione di Foie Gras ($32)
The Degustazione di Foie Gras comes in a trio of:
- Pan Fried Foie Gras with Filo pastry in Apple Sauce
- Savoury Tarlet topped with a gentle Foie Gras Mousse with Brandy flavour
- Homemade Foie Gras “Magnum” Terrine Crumbled with Crunchy Walnuts drizzled with Honey and Balsamic Sauce.
I love foie gras. As much as I love them simply seared, anything else that bears the existence of foie gras still intrigues me.
The most outstanding component has to be the Homemade Foie Gras “Magnum” Terrine. Dense, creamy foie gras is coated with walnuts for crunch, and drizzled with honey and balsamic sauce for a complete touch. If I didn’t have to share this, I would hold it by the “ice cream stick” and eat it like I do with Magnum.
Its plating evokes impressions of dessert, especially when berries accompany the dish. The components are deftly fabricated, I wonder if the chef has gone to a pastry school.
Daily Soup ($18)
The soup of the day was Zuppa di Asparagie Pancetta (Asparagus Soup with Bacon). Tepid isn’t a description that rings with attractive, flavoursome echo, but it is simplicity at its best. Pieces of bacon that float on the surface are dehydrated –almost akin to shavings of parma ham in taste.
Zuppa di Fungi Misti Olio al Tartufo e Foie Gras ($18)
Mushroom soup with Truffle Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Foie Gras
Puréed but not sieved, the creamy gritty consistency is what I am fond of in mushroom soups. Forget the chunky mushroom bits, forget the smooth velvety soup –you get an earthy mushroom heaven in every sip without having to chew.
The morsel of seared foie gras smacked in the middle of the soup is the cherry on top of the cake.
Ravioli e I Tortelli ($38)
Trio of Vegetarian Ravioli: Pumpkin; Spinach and Ricotta; Radicchio.
I’ve tasted really good Wagyu Cheek Ravioli in Veal Jus at Da Paolo Ristorante, and till date, I still recommend the restaurant to anyone who’s craving for ravioli. How memorable. I wonder if their standards still remain cogent, I’m dying to go back!
The trio of vegetarian ravioli, unfortunately, didn’t satiate my cravings.
I’m drawn towards the Spinach and Ricotta ravioli for its striking hue on the plate –the pasta dough is tinted green with spinach. The presentation is lovely isn’t it?
The façade of the Pumpkin Ravioli has a simple approach with minimal touches, as with its taste. An additional coating of a cream sauce would entice me more.
Al Ragu Bolognese ($28)
Pappardelle with Wagyu Beef Bolognese topped with Shaved Parmesan
I’ve tried Pappardelle from various restaurants, and I must say that Caffé B does it best for me.
The Pappardelle is perfectly al dente. The pasta is thick enough just so it is firm to the bite, while not too thick thus inheriting flavours from the Wagyu beef bolognese beautifully. The sauce is splendid.
Al Nero di Seppia con Melanzane e Ricci di Mare ($38)
Black Squid Ink Tonnarelli with Sea Urchin and Eggplant in a Cream Sauce
The tonnarelli (a spaghetti with a square cross section instead of circular) is tinted with black squid ink. The sauce that coats each strand of pasta provides just the right amount of mellow creaminess.
This pasta illustrates perfectly what my ideal squid ink pasta would be like –squid ink infused pasta with a tomato-based creamy sauce. I tend to avoid pasta served in squid ink sauce.
The eggplant may not look like the most beautiful constituent, but the slow-cooked eggplant with a khaki tinge exudes a musky, herbal depth that intrigues your palate.
The crowning sea urchin, albeit just a tiny gobbet, is for some a luxurious gourmet delicacy.
Both pasta dishes didn’t disappoint.
Foie Gras Risotto ($32)
Foie Gras Risotto “Mantecato” with 24-month-aged Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese topped with Pan Seared Goose Liver
Caffé B uses Aquarello, a unique type of aged Italian Carnaroli rice, in their risottos. Differing from Arborio rice that is more commonly used in other restaurants, Carnaroli is decidedly firmer in texture and has higher starch content. It has a longer grain, and the rice keeps its shape better than other forms of rice during the slow cooking required for making risotto.
The fat piece of pan seared goose liver melts in the mouth. I love foie gras.
Pan Seared Cod Fillet wrapped in Lard with white and green Asparagus in Saffron and Porcini Mushroom Sauce
I love fish, and because of that, I am extremely discerning when it comes to matters of piscatorial. Dry or overcooked fish sends an immediate gloom to my face.
Flavours are magical in this dish; absolutely love the idea of fish wrapped in lard and seared for a crisp finish; the sauce is divine; enjoyed the mushrooms; asparagus are cooked to perfection; love the flavour and textural combinations.
But. A great, great pity the fish turned out a little lacking in moisture and flakiness.
The Sea Bass received positive reviews. Should have ordered that.
Arista di Maialre Kurobuta, Mele Verdi e Aceto Balsamico di Modena Extra Vecchio ($43)
Grilled Kurobuta Black Pork Loin, Green Apples and 25 years aged Authentic Modena Balsamic Vinegar
Like how turkey marries well with cranberry sauce, pork in this case goes beautifully with green apple compote.
The surface of the meat is carefully browned while maintaining a pinkish tone inside. It is neither the juiciest piece of pork, nor tender to the point where it melts in your mouth – like how I desire my meat to be – but pork loins are generally low in fat content. We requested for more sauce to add moisture to the meat, and we happily devoured.
This dish will satisfy carnivores who love chomping on meat.
Sgroppino Maria Rosaria ($18)
Italian Special Lemon Sorbet Made with Vodka and Prosecco Maria Rosaria Style
I call this a frozen cocktail. It is refreshing and a little potent.
Assorted Gelato in 3 flavours ($12)
Gelato is made in-house. Since Caffé B is not an ice-cream/gelato parlour, don’t expect a wide range of flavours. What you can expect is good quality gelato.
Three flavours are available: Liquorice, Vanilla and Chocolate. I can’t decide which is my favourite amongst the three, because I love all three.
I was a little sceptical of the liquorice flavoured gelato initially, for I remember it as being pungent and unappealing to my palate when I tasted it for the first time as a child, and I haven’t been willing to taste it again till date. Since it arrived in a form of gelato, there was no way I could resist it. I love ice cream (and gelato). I was pleasantly surprised by its subtlety. You get hints of liquorice, but it doesn’t overwhelm your palate like the actual thing.
Crostatina di Nocciole Pienontesi, Crema al Sake ($18)
Piedmont Hazelnut Tart with Custard Cream Flavoured in Tahiti Vanilla and Japanese Sake Topped with Berries and Peaches
Panna Cotta ai Mandarini Giapponesi, Salse di Frutta ($16)
Yuzu Lemon Pudding with Fruits and Vanilla, Raspberry and Passionfruit Sauce
This is one unique presentation. The kilner jar contains Yuzu lemon pudding, accompanied by three types of sauce on the side for your pick. As much as I love the presentation, it gets a little difficult to scoop up the last bits of the pudding in the jar. I like to lick my plate clean.
Opposing the menu description, a chocolate sauce arrived in lieu of a passionfruit sauce. No complaints though. The chocolate sauce is delish. Maybe the chef had an omen that my sweet tooth prefers chocolate.
Layered Biscuits Soaked in Espresso Coffee and Amaretto with Fresh Mascarpone Cream
The Tiramisu has garnered praises as seen from previous reviews, and I was extremely eager to try it.
Authentic and classic tiramisu made a la minute, Caffé B has won many hearts with this dessert. I enjoyed it, but I’m not sure if it won my heart. Perhaps it didn’t exceed the expectations I amassed from all the raves. I would still recommend this dessert to anyone yearning to enjoy classic tiramisu.
Service is professional, efficient and knowledgeable. Paolo (Manager of Caffé B) made several right-on recommendations. The menu offers a wide variety, which most fine dining restaurants tend to lack.
If you’re looking for casual dining, the 30-seater al fresco bar above the restaurant serves gourmet pizza and antipasti, alongside signature cocktails and a range of Italian wine. There, you can enjoy the breeze and a stunning view of Marina Bay.
Restaurant opening hours:
Bar opening hours:
Sunday to Thurs: 10am-11pm
Fri, Sat & PH eve: 10am-midnight