Osteria Mozza, Singapore – not a patch on LA
It was time for a trip down memory lane, courtesy of the celebrity chef precinct at Marina Bay Sands. During Greedy Girl’s last US trip, a stopover in Los Angeles led her and gluttonous husband to the sensational Osteria Mozza on Melrose Avenue, a combination of the talents of Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich (of US MasterChef fame) and Nancy Silverton.
At the outset, Greedy Girl should admit she’s not exactly a fan of LA. It’s sprawling, impossible to get around without a car and it’s her Least Favourite Airport Ever. Too short a time frame to make the connection to a Honolulu flight, she opted for a night at one of the airport hotels and promptly booked a table at this most amazing of Italian eateries, only to be somewhat bemused that a trip Google maps said would be ‘around 25 minutes’ would take an hour and a half in the early evening traffic.
That didn’t pan out as the concierge suggested. It took, in fact less than 40 minutes and rendering us absurdly early for our reservation. The LA restaurant is in a bit of a wilderness. Melrose Avenue is exceedingly long and there’s not much else around Osteria Mozza to pass the time – a couple of office buildings, a gas station …
Heading into this lively, light space, it was already bustling. Osteria Mozza boasts a great bar and a wonderful atmosphere. The food experience was absolutely top notch. Greedy Girl still has fond memories of one of her all-time favourites, tortellini in brodo. So, looking for another Italian fix in Singapore, she persuaded gluttonous husband to jump on the SMRT and head for Marina Bay Sands.
The restaurant is divided into the osteria and a pizzeria. Asking our concierge to make us a booking (the Singapore restaurant does not offer online bookings), we were initially told our preferred time of 7.30pm was not available – indeed the earliest was 9pm. Persistence paid off and the booker relented – we could come in at the time we’d originally sought.
The internal space in the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands is kept quite dark and moody – and so is the restaurant. It’s a perma-gloom which showcases the bar area. The atmosphere in LA is also similar, once the sun goes down.
On being seated, Greedy Girl glanced around the room. It was half empty. There’s also a great number of seats at the bar available and only a couple were occupied. She wondered what the fuss was about during the booking process. Undeterred, we opted for just a few snacks and Greedy Girl helped herself to a glass of Bastianich’s own rosato. First up there was a little amuse bouche. This was a tangy ricotta with olive tapenade served on crispy, thin crackers. A nice touch.
Greedy Girl definitely wanted her tortellini in brodo. The unadorned pasta arrived at the table and the broth poured over, followed by a grating of fresh parmigiano reggiano. The ragu inside the tortellini was intensely flavoured and needed the broth to soften it. It was a good dish but didn’t hit the orgasmic heights of the LA version. She happily ate half and passed the bowl over to gluttonous husband for him to try.
Next up, we shared two pastas – agnolotti with butter and sage and a bucatini all’Amatriciana. Traditionally, agnolotti is made from flat pieces of pasta just folded over, often in a half-moon shape and stuffed with a meat mix. These were exactly the same shape as the tortellini featured in the soup dish, although had a different flavour. The butter and sage were a big disappointment. Greedy Girl was expecting the butter to have been ‘burnt’ i.e., to have a nutty brown look and flavour and for the sage leaves to be crispy. There was one sage leaf on the plate and it was a sad, soggy, solitary sight. It barely imparted flavour to the dish which was just greasy.The bucatini (a thick spaghetti) was coated in the Amatriciana sauce, featuring guanciale, tomato and chilli. Surprisingly, given the local love of spicy foods, the chilli heat was exceedingly mild. Indeed, the main flavour in the dish came from the freshly-chopped parsley on top, which is a bit sad, if you think about it.
Opting for small servings, we quickly ingested, drained the remainder of the wine and looked to depart. Having dined next door at Daniel Boulud’s ‘DB Bistro Moderne‘ and been underwhelmed by the offering there, Greedy Girl was ready to swear off the franchised outlets in this most glamorous of Singapore shopping centres.
A word about the service – it was friendly, warm, efficient and knowledgeable. They’ve definitely got that right.
Marina Bay Sands, Singapore