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epicure March 2011 $8.50 www.epicureasia.com

win! alessi serving trayS & Chinois by susur lee Dining vouchers worth over $1,000

epicure

life’s refinements

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal: What it’s really like

big and beautiful

travel

• A lesson in Thai street food • Rest and romance at Taiwan’s Sun Moon Lake • New holiday townhouse for Hokkaido skiers

oversized cAKES are the way to go

march 2011 www.epicureasia.com MICA (P) 024/12/2010

Big and Beautiful In search of the best tonkatsu


epicure reviews Our team goes undercover to suss out the latest and most

talked about restaurants in town. {$$ affordable $$$ moderate $$$$ expensive}

HIT THE GROUND RUNNING By uprooting some of his best staff from his Michelin-starred establishment in Los Angeles and recreating an infallible menu, Mario Batali has brought his A-game to the celebrity chefs’ playground here. OSTERIA MOZZA

Ricotta and Egg Raviolo with Browned Butter

#B1-42 to 46 Galleria Level of The Shoppes Marina Bay Sands Tel: 6688 8522 Before the bright lights of a neighbouring dental office and a nearby ‘Fish Spa’ sign catch the corner of your eye, it almost feels like you are at the Michelin-starred Osteria and Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles where it’s all dark wood, dim lights and loud rock anthems. Bearing a stark resemblance to its flagship, acclaimed chef Mario Batali’s first venture into Asia is a two-in-one establishment that sees the adopting of the former’s Italian menus, and a couple of familiar faces. Osteria Mozza at Marina Bay Sands is the upscale sibling to the adjacent Pizzeria, and even though they are essentially run by the same management, both kitchens operate separately—an arrangement which

Burrata with Bacon, Marinated Escarole and Carmelized Shallots

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Osteria Mozza bar

unfortunately doesn’t allow for crossover orders. So we steer our footsteps to the Osteria where the centrepiece is an open counter termed the Mozzarella Bar. It is here that fresh Italian cheeses like Bufala Ricotta from Abruzzo, Parmigiano Reggiano from Parma, and Bufala Mozzarella from Campana are turned out. When they are not imported from their hometown, the formaggi is flown in from California, after they are made by Di Stefano, a boutique-style artisan cheese company. To the back, the 10-seater Amaro Bar is backed by a millwork feature and extends onto white marble tops, where sharply-dressed diners gather to enjoy cold cuts of artisanal salumi and a glass or two of Pinot Grigio. The number of wines hover around 560, and are mostly Italian with the exception of champagnes and a couple of port wines. We start with an antipasti of steamed mussels ($21), and the Burrata with bacon, marinated escarole and caramelised shallots ($25). The Californian molluscs are tender and leave a brackish aftertaste, a pleasant reminder of the sea. They are, however, little match for the Puglia cheese, which is delightfully creamy when served at room temperature, and paired with sweet onions and pickled endive. The crowds are starting to pack in—this being a Tuesday night—but the operations continue to run like clockwork. This can be credited in large part to general manager Owen Eden and his floor staff. In a detour from his hospitality career, Eden left the restaurant business to join the circus as a juggler before unwavering passion eventually drew him to make a formative move to Mozza. Executive chef David Jordan Almany is no slouch either. He started as a sauté cook, rose up the ranks to sous chef in just six months and garnered Osteria Mozza LA its first Michelin star in

2008. Clearly, we are in good hands. When we find ourselves hemming and hawing between choices, our amicable server is happy to recommend some signatures, imparting a lesson in offbeat pastas while doing so. And there are 20 handmade varieties to choose from. The portions are decent despite the fact that the servings are meant as preludes to secondi. Our Bavette Cacio e Pepe ($24) is a narrower version of tagliatelle tossed with Pecorino cheese and a liberal sprinkling of coarsely grounded black pepper, while the Garganelli with Ragu Bolognaise ($25) resembles a classic minced beef penne. They are both cooked perfectly al dente, and bear just the right bite. Our only grouse: the pepper for the former dish could have been dialled down a few notches; the overdose left a burning sensation in the throat that persisted for a good 30 minutes and overshadowed any inherent cheese flavour. But pasta isn’t the only thing on the menu. The star favourite is the Guinea Hen Crostone with Liver Pancetta Sauce ($35). The fowl’s breast and legs are seared and braised respectively then blanketed by a sauce that is rich enough to be savoured on its own. By this time, we notice the bread basket is still making its rounds, as guests are encouraged to fare la scarpetta, an Italian term for mopping up leftover sauce with the warm rolls. The wheat, white and olive buns are flown in from La Brea Bakery in California where they were first created by Nancy Silverton, another member of the trio of chef-owners in Los Angeles. Credited for sparking a revitalised interest in rustic, hearth-baked breads, she uses a special sourdough starter that results in a host of baked goods characterised by crisp crusts and airy interiors—just the thing to soak up the hen’s hearty chicken liver, rosemary, sage and caper sauce. Our helpful server steps in again and assists with the final tossup between the Rosemary Olive Oil Cakes and Bombolini ($17) for dessert. The latter is a quartet of beignets with light, cream-filled middles that are reminiscent of the warm, powdered sugar Berliners one might find along the streets in Germany. But instead of sweet jam, our Tuscan fried pastry is accompanied with a deep-plum huckleberry marmellata, vanilla gelato, sweetened lemon curd and mascarpone sauce. A sublime orchestration of tart and sweet, it cements our dining experience. Satiated and satisfied, we could not finish the Cioccolato ($17). But alas, how could two diners polish off a sliver of flourless bittersweet chocolate cake served with nougat, honeycomb and cocoa-dusted Perugian truffles—delicious as it was— when we had just conquered two appetisers, two pastas, one main, and hearty servings of fresh bread? >

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epicure reviews Already quite the bustle, it is likely that reservations at Osteria Mozza will become increasingly difficult to snag. But when that happens, take comfort in the fact that the Pizzeria just next door may double your chance of sitting down to hearty, rustic fare. And at the very least, there’s the promise of thinly sliced, house cured guanciale with a coruscating bubbly at the bar while you wait. MARIA SINGH Food:  Service:  Ambience:  Price: $$$$

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Epicure Asia Review - Osteria Mozza Singapore