Jilly Wang is what one would expect of a woman at the top of her game. She’s decisive, no-nonsense and cuts straight to the chase. “I am a very straightforward person in business. If I want something, it means I want something,” says the restaurateur behind popular Italian joint Alkaff Mansion Ristorante, who restored the 19th-century colonial residence to its former glory close to four years ago. “The building’s conditions then were a far cry from what it is today, but I had a strong gut feeling that this space had a story to tell. So right away, without any experience in the wine and dine business, I told my husband I would transform the mansion into an Italian restaurant.”
Her quick decision paid off. Despite sitting off the beaten path amid the lush greenery of Telok Blangah Green, Alkaff Mansion Ristorante – now sporting a charming facade and modern interiors – is home to a steady flow of diners, weddings and private events – thanks in part to a well-designed menu by executive chef and Sardinian native Simone Depalmas. “Both my husband and I are fans of Italian food and every year we spend close to three weeks travelling around Italy,” reveals Wang, who’d discuss regular updates to the menu with Depalmas. “Since I live in Singapore, I know the preferences of its people and I would share with him [Depalmas] the kinds of dishes they’d prefer.”
Having hosted a fair bit of parties herself, Wang points out that the key to throwing the perfect bash starts innately from the host. “He or she should have a clear vision of the experience they’d like to offer their guests. The ‘feel’ of the party is very important, and that ‘feel’ starts right at the building’s doorstep, be it through decorations or even performances,” she says. “The host must be able to imagine the party setting in his or her mind, what he or she would like to see and hear. Everything I do, I do it with all my heart, and a big part of a good party is an experience that’s incredibly personal.”
Text by Kenny Loh
Image by Long Fei
Hair & Makeup Nikki Fu using Redken and YSL Beaute
Outfit Cotton Shirt from Shanghai Tang; “Ladies Calatrava Travel Time Ref. 4934” white gold watch with mother-of-pearl, diamonds and alligator strap from Patek Philippe; skirt, shoes and jewelery are Jilly’s own.