Etna Italian Restaurant has been around since 2006 and it is quite an established name for Italian food. They have a sister restaurant named iO located in HillV2 Shopping Mall, an upscale “SOHO Chic” mall near Bukit Gombak which has a Dean & DeLuca as well. The mall was designed by RSP Architects.
i.O which stands for “Italian Osteria” is supposedly the more casual and contemporary sister restaurant of the Etna brand as its name suggests where an Italian osteria serves down-to-earth cuisine to chill opposed to a more formal ristorante. The food isn’t cheap but it is not too overly expensive either. The pastas for example remained within the 20-25 dollar range.
Bruschetta, Sicilian Fresh Tomatoes, Italian Basil | 7 SGD | Refreshing, not bad.
We had this to start off our meal. The tomatoes were really juicy and sweet, a pretty decent starter.
Traditional Roman Schiacciata | 7 – 15 SGD | Not bad.
Think of a good roti john with cream cheese and truffle flavour instead. That is the Roman Schiacciata at i.O Quite highly recommended but I thought it was just okay. Good bread with cream cheese and truffle is a decent comfort food with a fail-safe combination.
Tender Meatballs in Hearty Tomato Sauce | 9 SGD | Not bad.
Porchetta, Baked Pork Belly, Wild Fennel | 12 SGD | So-so.
Highly anticipated this dish because i.O recommends it. Skin was crispy but flesh was a tad dry. In the end it was a let-down and thought it could have been better.
Orecchiette, Pork Sausage, Saffron Sauce | 18 SGD | Good.
This reminded me of the Risotto alla Milanese. The sauce itself was very fragrant, creamy and rich. It is recommended to share this pasta rather than eating it alone as it could be a little monotonous after a while. The pork sausage does help to cut through that rich creaminess with some savoury flavours.
Garganelli, Slow-Braised Lamb Ragout | 18 SGD | Good.
Garganelli is a kind of pasta that is similar to penne but not the same. Seldom see this around and the use of braised lamb in pastas. This turned out to be pleasant surprise. The lamb was tasty without the distinct gamey flavour and the pasta has absorbed some of those flavours. Quite delicious.
Seasonal Crab Pasta | Good.
You could more or less tell what i.O strengths are by now. Their pastas are quite competent and they are not your usual pastas too. This is their daily special, crab pasta which is fragrant, flavourful and tangy with generous chunks of crab meat mixed with some minced pork. Not too thick and portion was just right.
Pistachio Tiramisu in a Jar | 9 SGD | Excellent
Etna is known for their classic tiramisu. Here at i.O, they have pistachio version and it was pretty good. Less rich than the cocoa version, this is nutty and lighter. I enjoyed every bit of this dessert.
All in all, i.O is a traditional, down to earth eatery, an osteria, with contemporary interiors (plus a touch of rustic) serving Italian cuisine with some uncommon Italian classics here and there. It is a great place to chill and hangout with comfort food like the Schiacciata or meat balls if HillV2 is accessible to you. Food was generally good and the staff was rather friendly and well-informed about their menu.
4 Hillview Rise