Luce is the brainchild of an Italian culinary maestro who beat all odds for his namesake restaurant at InterContinental Singapore.
Davide Giacomelli’s story is one for the books. The chef answered a global casting call that drew over 200,000 hopefuls, and eventually defeated over 120 chefs. The prize? A restaurant to call his own, and an entirely clean slate on which to build his dream.
Armed with 13 years of experience under his belt, chef Davide has always had food in his blood. At the early age of 14 years old, he began helping out at his father’s restaurant back home Italy. Later, he would work at Italy’s Trattoria Vecchia Lugana and La Speranzina Restaurant & Relais, and Michelin-starred names across Europe such as one-Michelin-starred Le Diane and Le Meurice Alain Ducasse, a three-Michelin-starred restaurant.
Luce means ‘light’ in Italian and is chef Davide’s love letter to his home cuisine’s bright flavours. He terms his approach as ‘bistronomic’: a word play he describes as a gastronomy-first concept with fresh, seasonal produce. High ceilings and dark furnishings don’t diminish the restaurant’s cosy atmosphere. A large part of that is thanks to a team of hospitable staff, led by Restaurant Manager Artem Viglione, and the affable chef himself.
What stands out immediately is the concise menu at Luce. The selections are kept cleverly minimal to allow all of its dishes – inspired by classic Italian flavours and chef’s food of his hometown – to shine. Speaking to Giacomelli, he’s determined to “keep it simple” by spotlighting the ingredients through the right seasoning and dish pairing.
Have the Bruschetta to start. The crisp, toasted bread is topped with grated garlic, fresh buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomato concassé, rocket leaves and basil. While still light and bright, the original addition of the parma ham would offer a delicate savouriness.
We also have the Octopus Peperonata. Grilled Sicilian-style, the flesh is fork-tender and perfectly charred on the edges. The peperonata here is a rustic Southern Italian dish, made with pan-roasted red and yellow peppers, red onions and tomatoes. It is everything Italian food is best known for: simple flavours, fresh produce and lots of flavour. The bell peppers here remain sweet and fresh; it is hearty with caramelised onions and tangy tomatoes.
For mains, we order what comes recommended. The Acquerello Lobster is the chef’s specialty. Here, the Carnaroli rice is cooked in lobster stock with half Boston lobster and chervil. Each mouthful presents a creamy combination of sweet lobster flesh and the refreshing lightness of the herb.
You simply can’t have Italian cuisine without pasta, and we happily dig into the Tagliatelle Coda di Manzo next. Mounds of tender oxtail come apart in a thick, meaty sauce, which clings to the ribbons of tagliatelle with the right amount of slipperiness and bite.
Now convinced of the sturdy mains and starters, we move on to desserts. If you had to choose one, go with the Luce-Misu. The more-ish deconstructed tiramisu is housed in a crunchy feuilletine with layers of mascaporne cream espuma, espresso syrup, lady finger sponge. Do as the Italians do, and have this with espresso.
To complete your meal, dive into the excellent selection of Italian wines, which include the Barolo, Amarone della Valpolicella and Brunello di Montalcino, that have been curated by Artem, who is an accomplish sommelier. He has also created a robust cocktail programme. We have the Aperopolitan, a spin on the Cosmopolitan that features a chamomile-infused vermouth for a distinctly herbal and floral taste, and an all-star selection of Italian ingredients. We also have the InterContinental Negroni made of oak barrel aged botanist gin, red and white vermouth, jasmine tea, Campari and bitters – the perfect pairing for a truly satiating meal.
Luce by Davide Giacomelli, 80 Middle Rd, Singapore 188966