Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Singapore 3 - Pizzeria Mozza

Pizzeria Mozza

As well as being famous for its choice selection of street food, Singapore is an international commercial hub and hence also attracts big name award winning chefs and celebrity chefs. There was a whole section in the Marina Bay Sands shopping complext that was titled 'Celebrity Chef Restaurants'.

My aversion to making bookings whilst on holiday prevented us from going to anywhere too posh and prestigious. I did some Googling and found a lot of recommendations for Osteria Mozza. I was going a little crazy trying to identify why that name sounded so familiar when it dawned on me: the restaurant was being advertised in our hotel lifts (poster of Mario Batali with a string of sausages around his head stuck in my mind). Ah...

A bit more Googling revealed that Osteria Mozza was more or less a fine dining restaurant and next door was Pizzeria Mozza, the casual counterpart. That sounded perfect for me because it meant I could dip my toes in the whole celebrity chef hype in Singapore without having to comit to a serious, booked-in, night time meal.

We wandered around the Marina Bay Sands Shopping Centre, playing with the interactive maps and trying to find the restaurant. Even the GPS-like animated directions telling us how to get there weren't enough and in the end, we had to ask someone for specifics (or more acurately, someone took pity on my lost expression and asked me where I wanted to go).

Pizzeria Mozza is a restaurant inside a shopping centre but as soon as you step inside, you forget that. There are regular tables and an open kitchen with bar seating around it. The lighting was dim but in a rustic, pizza-cave way, not a romantic way.

We found a small, mysterious envelope on our table. Once opened, we found it contained herby tort crisps. Yum. These were devoured whilst we poured over the menu.

It was one of those barely-English menus but I fumbled through and selected a few items.

Rosemary lemonade and (possibly) pineapple and cranberry

The drinks sounded interesting so we each ordered what we thought what would be strange and different. I didn't take photos of the menu describing what they were, assuming that I would find it online later but that wasn't the case so I'll have to go by hazy memory. Mine was lemonade with rosemary. The savory qualities of the rosemary were great for cutting through the tart and sweet elements of the lemonade. Very refreshing and stops it from being too sticky and sickly. Marc's drink had pineapple in it... and something else that made it a bit quirkier but for the life of me I can't remember. I'll update if it springs to mind.

We ordered a few tapas/starters to share and finished with a pizza.

Meatballs al forno

The first of the starters was the meatballs. They came in a cheesy, tomato-based sauce with crispy croutons for dipping. The meatballs were luscious and packed a flavor punch. I always think of meatballs as 'good' and restaurant meatballs should be 'better' but these exceeding even that.

Grilled prawns 

We also got some grilled prawns on a bed of potato that doesn't seem to be on the menu anymore (so again, I'm grasping at weak memory threads). The prawns were huge but not outstanding in terms of flavor. I did like the potato portion of this dish though.

Insalata mista

Finally, to ease my health conscience, I asked for a salad. We got the insalata mista, which was a huge serve of bitter greens finely sliced and tossed with a zesty EVOO dressing, sun-dried tomatos and salami. The inclusion of salami made us query just how healthy this salad was but I thought it was delicious anyway.

Pizza with bacon, salami, fennel sausage, pancetta, tomato and mozzarella

The last thing we ordered was also the main event at Pizzeria Mozza. It shouldn't take a genius to work out that it's the pizza that the restaurant is famous for. I tried to pick one that Marc would like and considering he's a boy, I sought out the meatiest sounding option. As a fan of vegetarian pizzas, I was stunned to see a pizza that arrived with no shade of greenery. Not even the slightest. It still looked awesome though so we ripped the pieces up and dug in.

Close-up of pizza slice 

YUM. The pizza was unbelievably fantastic. I've had a LOT of pizza in my time: fast food, gourmet, wood-fired, hand made, flat, thick... whatever. You get to a point where you think 'wow that's good' and don't see how it can get much better than that. Sugo Mi is probably the best I've had in Australia because the sauce was unreal, but I still like UQ Pizza Caffe's pizza for their thin crunchy bases (my personal preference).

My opinion is that this Pizzeria Mozza pizza married the best of all those pizza's I'd enjoyed in my life into my idea of the ultimate pizza. The base was perfection - it was crunchy yet also puffy in places. I know that pizza base preference is a very personal thing but this just did it for me. The sauce was also delicious. It transcended well beyond stock standard tomato sauce into something layered in flavors, slurpy and delicious. The toppings, although simple, were all top ingredients and it really made a difference. Even the salami and sausage, basic ingredients, were just superior to anything that's usually thrown onto the top of a pizza. It does make a difference!

I didn't know what to expect from Pizzeria Mozza, having never been to a celebrity chef pizza joint before... but I loved it! I'm not sure what the level of hype is but judging it as a plain pizza restaurant, based on the taste of food and ambience, I think it has to be the best I've tried. And yes, that's a big call. In the realm of fine dining, the possibilities are almost endless. When it comes to something like pizza, the challenge is in taking something simple and familiar up a few notches. I really think Pizzeria Mozza delievered.

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