TO SIP AND TO ADMIRE
Food alone does not make a Cicheti great. While the original wine selection was not curated by Kamiyama, the programme he runs at Cicheti today continues carrying a torch for Italy, home to some of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world.
The 40-odd labels strong wine list rotates around classics like Barolos, Barbarescos and Super Tuscans, while shining a spotlight on the country’s lesser-known native grape varietals such as Piedmont’s Freisa, Campania’s Fiano and Friuli’s Ribolla Gialla – each on the brink of their own renaissance. With no stylistic bias, traditional and modernist winemakers are listed side by side, and as all Cicheti concepts – a number of biodynamic, organic, natural or sustainably farmed wines are brought to the fore. For special occasions, Enoteca is a reserve of iconic cellar selections featuring native grapes from the most prolific winemaking regions of Italy, each bottle aged for a number of years to become the truest expression of their respective terroirs, with fully developed personality, individuality and elegance that money can buy.
Inspired by some of Ong’s favourite Italian haunts while living in London, an artful blend of mixed-use materials such as stone, wrought iron furnishings, leather accents and weathered oak tables that first injected old world allure and modern sensibilities into the space has only aged gracefully in the last seven years. Today they serve as the charming canvas for a growing collection of oil paintings from Southeast Asian artists such as Le Quey Tong and Ly Hung Anh that Ong has been filling the walls of the two-storey shophouse with, most notably commissioning local artist duo Ripple Root to paint a wall mural on the second floor depicting classic Italian iconography in Malay-Peranakan accents.
“It was important to me from the get go that everything Cicheti represented—from carving out a brand of Italian cuisine we could call our own, or the bottles of wine that our guests would love and remember most, right down to interiors that evoked warmth—would allow anyone to be just as comfortable turning up for dinner alone on a Monday evening, as they would make a celebration out of a Saturday night about town,” shares Ong. “In fact, at its core, it’s what every Cicheti concept, whether this one or the next, should be built upon.”
Cicheti is the first concept debuted by homegrown Italian restaurant and bar operators The Cicheti Group in 2013, which precedes contemporary pasta bar Bar Cicheti (2018) and modern day osteria Caffe Cicheti (2019). Occupying a two-storey shophouse unit along Kandahar Street—tucked in the backstreet of Singapore’s Arab quarter Kampong Glam—Cicheti is a rustic chic trattoria that offers a distinctive perspective on Italian cuisine, earmarked by regional specialities and authentic, wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas presented in an urbane space where old-world charm is brought into modern design. The name Cicheti (pronounced “chi-KEH-tee”) draws inspiration from a delicious Venetian tradition that today forms the bedrock of the group’s foray into showcasing the mouth-watering diversity of Italy’s foodscape in its most inspired form