Think Italian food, think pizza, pasta, and perhaps a stuffed crust? Griglia Open Fire Italian Kitchen is a contemporary Italian restaurant that goes beyond the stereotypes of traditional staples and serves dishes of bucolic charm and irresistable simplicity. 

Situated on Craig Road and opened by the people behind Zafferano, Griglia has been sitting pretty on this Chinatown stretch since 2021. The refreshed menu keeps it up to date in an area that’s fast becoming one of the hottest on the island. 

Griglia gets its name from the term ‘grigliata‘, in reference to the outdoor grill that’s often used for al fresco meals in Italy.Positioned at the back of the restaurant in an open kitchen concept, the specially customised cast iron charcoal grill is fired up and flaming when we arrive.

Dishes marry the rich flavours and heritage of Italy through grilled meats, fish, vegetables, salads and – of course – homecooked pasta. What’s lovely is that dishes are fresh, wholesome and joyously uncomplicated, the star of the show in some cases being a specific type of vegetable or glug of exceptional olive oil, complemented by a stellar mix of herbs, salts, and seasoning. 

Letting quality ingredients speak for themselves is depicted in Griglia’s spin on small plates: we try Confit Tomatoes – plump tommies on Spiced Bread with a swipe of Avocado; Beef Tartare, a pop-in-your-mouth ball of beef, Confit Egg and Parmigiano; and Rustic Bread which tastes other-worldly dipped in Piennolo Tomato Sauce from Naples and Apulian Extra Virgin Olive Oil. 

Secret weapon

Even good old Eggplant is next-level here. Miniscule layers of eggplant, Roma tomatoes and ligurian basil rest on top of a ‘Caciocavallo’ fondue. This results in a delicate taste that’s both sweet and smoky, and we wish it came in larger portions.

Cheese features highly on this updated menu. Melted stracchino entwined with bottorga and hazelnut makes for a refreshing Romanesco, whereas Bone Marrow comes with salsa verde, radish crostini and parmesan crust. Pappardelle is served with tender, braised pork jowl and crisp guanciale, and is a crowd favourite.

Our two mains are such showstoppers that the table is totally divided as to a winner. Dry Aged Porterhouse ‘Fiorentina’ steak is cooked with rosemary to a beautiful medium-rare, producing a robust and tender flavour. In contrast, the Whole Mediterranean Seabass Fillet is light, succulent and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. 

Beef Tartare and Capri In A Cake

Side dishes of Baby Potatoes, Kale and Charcoal Grilled Baby Corn served with Brown Butter Sabayon (ideal for dipping), create a lux farm-to-table countryside vibe. The rustic feel continues through the chic interior which features exposed brick walls, comfy leather banquette seating and a mix of high and low casual tables.

For dessert we managed a bulging Cappuccinomisu: a cappuccino tiramisu
with buffalo mascarpone and port wine, topped with a fluffy foam. Capri In A Cake certainly lived up to its name: this soft Italian cake oozed intense lemon curd, fresh Amalfi lemon juice, a creamy vanilla gelato, and Italian olive oil on the side. We can vouch that both sweets are best enjoyed with a cheeky glass of Limoncello. Well, when in Rome …

VERDICT: Pass up your standard Italian pizza for clean-feeling food that leaves you nourished with fresh produce kissed by hot flames and Italian heritage. Great for groups of friends and families looking for a slice of Italian sunshine. 

37 Craig Rd, #01-01, 089675