Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Best Italian Restaurant in Singapore - Osteria Mozza by Chef Mario Batali, MBS.

Let me preface this post by saying that no, we haven't visited all the hundreds of Italian restaurants in town before concluding that Osteria Mozza is Singapore's best Italian restaurant. The spirit is more than willing but the wallet (and bank account) is weak, so we defer to the experts on San Pellegrino & Acqua Panna's Asia's 50 best restaurants panel - 2015 edition. A total of ten Singapore eateries made the list this year, and Osteria Mozza was the highest-ranked Italian restaurant, so by extension it's the best Italian restaurant in town ... right?

Osteria Mozza Best Italian Restaurant in Singapore

Opened by Celebrity Chef Mario Batali, the restaurant sits proudly opposite the Marina Bay Sands theatre. Decor is a stylish blend of modern chic and traditional wood-panels-everywhere; service is competent and friendly but not quite 'fine dining.' That's OK though, we much prefer the noise and energy in the dining room and not having to worry about whispering to each other over the table.

Osteria Mozza Best Italian Restaurant in Singapore

Let's eat! The amuse-bouche of home made Ricotta Cheese with Olive Tapenade gets chowed down in a single bite - it's a pretty nice introduction to the rest of the food that's on the way.

Osteria Mozza Best Italian Restaurant in Singapore Amuse Bouche

As is hinted at by the restaurant's name, Osteria Mozza makes a whole lot of fresh cheeses daily - mostly around the Mozzarella variety. The chef-recommended cheese starter is the Burrata with California Sterling Royal Caviar, red onion, egg and chive ($48). If like us you've never heard of burrata, it's an Italian cheese made by combining hot kneaded mozzarella and fresh cream, and tastes like a very stretchy, light mozzarella (with a consistency not unlike mochi). And if like us you've also never heard of California Sterling Royal Caviar, it's the deliciously juicy and slightly briny eggs of farm-raised fully grown white sturgeon. We're absolute newbies to the world of caviar so we've got no idea how this matches up to the actual eggs of wild-caught beluga sturgeon, though.

Osteria Mozza Best Italian Restaurant in Singapore Burrata with Caviar

If the first cheese dish was portioned a little on the small side, the next one - Smoked Buffalo Mozzarella with Prosciutto di Parma - absolutely overcompensates. For $25 we get an entire plate of the luscious Italian ham with a generous dollop of Italian water buffalo cheese. The ham is gorgeously fatty and deliciously salty ... initially. Towards the end we were struggling to finish the salty ham. Too much of a good thing, perhaps?

Osteria Mozza Best Italian Restaurant in Singapore Buffalo Mozarella with Prosciutto di Parma

We move on to primo portions of pasta, and perhaps make a slight mistake in ordering two very similar dishes: Maltagliati with Duck Ragu ($26) and Tagliatelle with Oxtail Ragu ($29). Ragu means meat sauce, and you would need to be a sommelier to detect any major flavour differences in either preparation. Other than the difference in meat, of course.

Osteria Mozza Best Italian Restaurant in Singapore Maltagliati with Duck Ragu

One slight disappointment - both these pastas are quite a bit on the salty side. Either small portion in isolation would be fine, but when we're eating two salty pastas immediately after polishing down an entire plate of salty Prosciutto ... you probably get the picture. Perhaps the wait staff could have (should have (?)) given us a head's up when taking our orders?

Osteria Mozza Best Italian Restaurant in Singapore Tagliatelle with Oxtail Ragu

All the pastas are also available in roughly double-priced (and presumably double-sized) secondo portions if you're so inclined. We decided instead to share a gorgeous Pan Roasted Iberico Pork Chop with fennel, onion and sambuca ($68) - cooked medium. Did we already mention it was gorgeous? Both on the plate and in the mouth. The pork was cooked just right, and with the perfect amount of fat to ensure a taste of heaven in every bite.

Osteria Mozza Best Italian Restaurant in Singapore Pan Roasted Iberico Pork Chop

By the end of the pork chop we were absolutely stuffed and passed on dessert, except for a scoop of candle-lit vanilla gelato - compliments of the house as congratulations for our anniversary.

Osteria Mozza Best Italian Restaurant in Singapore Vanilla Gelato

Food here doesn't come cheap - around $240 for the both of us. We're not quite sure whether this is expensive, to be honest. On one hand $120/pax is a lot of money; on the other hand the food's damn good (except for the sodium overload) and the price tag is a hell of a lot lower than any of the other nine Singaporean entrants on Asia's top 50.

So we conclude that the food here is both pricey and reasonable at the same time (yay indecisiveness!). Price tag aside the pasta here is miles better than that other celebrity restaurant Jamie's Italian, which frankly was somewhat disappointing given Jamie Oliver's immense popularity.

Osteria Mozza is in Marina Bay Sands. Reservations highly recommended - the restaurant is always full even on weekday nights. Non-halal.

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