Review: Chicco’s sibling restaurant Cenzo has good-value set lunches and great pasta, too

By Evan Mua April 5, 2024
Review: Chicco’s sibling restaurant Cenzo has good-value set lunches and great pasta, too
This swanky Italian restaurant is also opened by Chicco’s owner. Photos: Evan Mua/HungryGoWhere
  • Cenzo is a popular Italian restaurant opened by the owner of the newly viral Chicco restaurant at Amoy
  • It serves up handmade pasta, as well as other Italian classics, but with a modern Australian vibe
  • There’s a good-value S$38 set lunch, which include options such as grilled squid and beef ragu pasta

You’ve probably heard of Chicco, the ultra-viral pasta bar at Amoy Street. But before Chicco, there was Cenzo at Club Street. 

These two Italian restaurants are actually opened by the same man, chef-owner Drew Nocente.

And here’s the good news for those who are struggling to get desirable reservation timings at the former: Unlike the hotly contested Chicco, it’s not a frenetic scramble to get yourself a seat at Cenzo. For now, at least.

The backstory

It’s located at Club Street. Photo: Evan Mua/HungryGoWhere

Before Cenzo and Chicco, chef Drew had made his mark on the local dining scene running his previous restaurant, the acclaimed Salted & Hung.

However, Salted & Hung eventually wound down in June 2022 after a memorable six years. Following the closure, chef Drew went on to open Cenzo in October 2022.

Located at Club Street, the restaurant is a cosy space that features an open kitchen and a modish main dining area that’s dyed in hues of red and brown, sharply contrasted against a striking sky-blue floor.

As compared to the more explorative gastronomy of Salted & Hung, chef Drew opted for a more casual Italian-inspired dining experience this time, with a touch of chill Australian conviviality.

Cenzo’s main dining hall is a cool blend of reds and blues. Photo: Evan Mua/HungryGoWhere

Cenzo’s menu mainly focuses on authentic pasta, pastrami sandwiches and other hearty Italian classics. 

As compared to Chicco — which focuses on homelier pasta dishes — Cenzo’s menu prices are slightly higher, as it comes with a bit more of a luxe edge, with ingredients such as truffle. 

That means if you’re looking for something a little fancier for special occasions, Cenzo could be a more apt choice.

See if you can spot traces of chef Drew’s tasteful fusion touches; it’s the Australian-born chef’s way of paying homage to his Italian roots while melding in modern Aussie inflections into the food.

Our verdict

As far as casual Italian restaurants are concerned, Cenzo is undoubtedly one of the top dogs in the scene.

The food is heartfelt. For example, the pasta is handmade — as it should be at any proper Italian restaurant — while you can also find house-cured pastrami used in its signature sandwiches.

At the same time, the decor is stylish and the ambience is absolutely delightful, while the staff are remarkably genial and attentive.

There’s really not much to complain about here — Cenzo is as well-run a restaurant as it can be at this price range.

What it’s good for

You can never go wrong with burrata. Photo: Evan Mua/HungryGoWhere

For weekday lunches, Cenzo offers a pretty good-value set lunch between 12pm to 2.30pm — the two-course set lunch is priced at S$38, with a S$5 top-up to add desserts to your meal.

There are also upgrades you can opt for, for your starters and mains, at varying prices. Cenzo’s set lunch options change up regularly too, so it doesn’t get boring.

On our visit, the lunch options were pretty solid. You’ll find not just rudimentary salads, but also substantial starter options such as tartare di tonno (marinated tuna tartare with sourdough) and calamaro (grilled squid).

But being burrata fans, we opted for the burrata (that comes with a S$5 top-up), which was clean, silky and bolstered with a bright tanginess from the tomatoes and tomato snow.

A solid pork belly sandwich, Italian-style. Photo: Evan Mua/HungryGoWhere

Just like its starters, the mains were equally well-curated. 

There was a nice mix of pastas, as well as proteins, for its lunch set. Options include mafaldine (with beef ragu and pecorino foam), cacciatore (chicken leg) and manzo (grass fed ribeye, which comes with a S$10 top up).

Having tried the iconic pastrami sandwich (S$26) on a prior visit, we knew we couldn’t go wrong with the porchetta panino (pork belly sandwich with slaw and pineapple tomato salsa).

While it was not as memorable as the signature pastrami, it was, nonetheless, a mighty hearty indulgence stuffed full of rich and tender pork belly.

It also helped that the vibrant acidity from the slaw and salsa perfectly cut through the heft of flavours.

Semifreddo jazzed up with popping candy? Photo: Evan Mua/HungryGoWhere

And if you’re feeling up for a sweet ending to your lunch, the semi-freddo (S$5 top-up) is one to consider. This was a decadent medley of espresso, nutella and hazelnuts with a twist: Popping candy.

Seafood lovers would enjoy this grilled octopus. Photo: Evan Mua/HungryGoWhere

Besides the set lunch, one dish worth adding on is the polpo (S$35). Those who enjoy seafood for its textures would enjoy the tender and bouncy grilled octopus leg.

Besides the great textures, it was also wonderfully smoky and beautifully accented by a fragrant red pepper zing — probably one of the better octopus dishes we’ve had of late.

What it could improve on

Pasta lovers who enjoy heavy flavours have to get a portion of this cacio e pepe. Photo: Evan Mua/HungryGoWhere

We enjoyed our experience adequately, so there wasn’t anything we necessarily felt needed improvements on. 

But we’d say that the caserecce cacio e pepe (S$26), one of Cenzo’s most popular menu staples, may not be for everyone. 

It’s a very well-done and no-frills rendition of the Roman pasta classic that’s loaded with pecorino umami and black pepper oomph — a satisfying dish for those who enjoy robust flavours.

That said, the pasta wasn’t immaculately al dente and, more importantly, it’s a rather one-note dish. It worked for us, but those not overly eager on potent umami and salinity might understandably find it a tad overwhelming.

Our quick takes

Is it conducive to conversation? Seats are well spaced apart and the vibe here is very intimate, making it a great location for date night.

Is a reservation necessary? Perhaps not for lunch, but dinner gets a bit more hectic. 

How to get there? It’s located at Club Street, approximately a three-minute walk from Maxwell MRT’s Exit 2.

For more ideas on what to eat, read our stories on the return of free-flow-sampling sake festival Sake Matsuri and the recently announced Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants rankings.

Do explore the new GrabFood Dine-in service for awesome deals.

You can also book a ride to Cenzo at Club Street.


81 Club Street
Nearest MRT: Maxwell
Open: Monday to Saturday (12pm to 2.30pm, 5.30pm to 10.30pm)

81 Club Street
Nearest MRT: Maxwell
Open: Monday to Saturday (12pm to 2.30pm, 5.30pm to 10.30pm)

Evan Mua


Evan started off writing about food on Instagram, before joining outlets such as Buro and Confirm Good to pursue his passion. His best work usually comes after his first whisky shot in the morning.

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