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Forlino opens own eatery

Michelin-star chef Osvaldo Forlino has run out of names for his restaurants.

First, he left his namesake restaurant Forlino in 2009 to set up Osvaldo Restorante Italiano at Maxwell Chambers.

Now, he has sold his 50 per cent share of Osvaldo to start No Menu in Boon Tat Street. The chef from the Piedmont region in north-west Italy says No Menu started off as a restaurant for his daughters to manage.

But just last week, he decided he would sell his stake in Osvaldo and concentrate full-time on the new eatery.

Forlino and his former Osvaldo partner David Liang say their split was amicable. Mr Liang tells Life! he supports Forlino's new venture and is 'grateful that he worked unselfishly' to train the kitchen staff during their 1 1/2-year partnership.

He also revealed that he is currently in discussions with 'a few Italian names' to head the cooking at the restaurant.

Forlino is glad his former partner understands that it has been his dream to set up his own restaurant.

He came to Singapore in 2002 and started as a chef at the Hyatt Hotel. Later, he cooked at Il Lido at Sentosa and then became a partner at Forlino at One Fullerton with restaurateur Beppe De Vito. He left that upmarket restaurant in 2009 to open the more casual Osvaldo.

'After eight years, I finally have what I want,' Forlino says proudly looking around the cosy 46-seater No Menu, which opened just over a week ago.

The official launch will be on Feb 7.

The decor is rustic with Italian carpets lining the floor and chandeliers which were hand-picked by Forlino when he last went to Italy.

Also covering a wall is his personal collection of Grand Gourmet, an Italian food magazine, which he says he has collected for 20 years since he was a teenager.

Other items which line the walls are jars of peaches, which are grown in his family's farm in Italy, and gold-framed mirrors, also from the country.

A look at the menu revealed hearty favourites such as lamb ossobuco, squid ink risotto and the chef's classic tiramisu.

So why is the restaurant called No Menu? He explains that the emphasis is on the $98 dinner degustation menu, which has 10 to 15 courses. Guests can request certain dishes but will have to leave the rest up to the chef.

He says this is how it is done in most family restaurants in Italy and he wanted to recreate that experience here.

He vows to use the freshest ingredients and personally makes a trip to the wet market every morning to source fresh meat, fish and vegetables. He then cycles, with his haul, from the wet market at Chinatown Complex to his restaurant and is there from 8am to closing time.

Local produce will, of course, be paired with special imports which include Burrata cheese and tomatoes from Sicily and seafood from Southern Italy, he says.

Assisting him will be his wife, two daughters, three local chefs and other family members, including his mother, who often spends half the year in Singapore.

Asked if he will ever leave No Menu, he says: 'No more move.'

But he adds, after a pause: 'Maybe one more place. I don't know yet. I'll set up this one first.'

simlinoi@sph.com.sg