Pizza Express: Not Bad

British pizza chain, Pizza Express, is here and yours truly went on a unsponsored-visit to Scotts Square just for it! Conclusion: not bad.  Pizza Express’s pizza pies were better than Prego at Fairmont (that was so sad I couldn’t bring myself to blog about it here) and Pepperoni Pizzeria on Frankel Avenue (tragic). However Pizza […]

Motorino Pizza: Beautifully Bland

After four aesthetically stunning pizzas, I found New York’s Motorino Pizza to be bland. I much preferred the punchy flavours offered by the West Coast pizzeria at M.B.S. However at the equally-renowned East Coast pizzeria, the thick spotted crust smelled heavenly; smoky and addictively chewy. But it was their toppings that left me unimpressed.

For example, take the Brussels Sprouts & Bacon. I was most looking forward to this. Generously topped with semi-roasted brussels sprouts leaves, it caused the whole pizza to taste green and slightly grassy. The bacon flavour was barely-discernible bacon given the overwhelming “green” flavour. 

Another pizza I was most looking forward to: Cremini Mushroom & Sausage. Again arriving generously topped with semi-cooked slices of brown mushrooms and minced pork. This was hardly palatable but memorable for why mushrooms should always be cooked down. Now I know why I never eat brown mushrooms raw off the supermarket shelves. At the same time, right then and there, I missed the Fennel & Sausage Pizza at the West Coast pizzeria in MBS. 

However all was not lost. I did enjoy the Fresh Clam pizza. Although the clam flavour could barely be tasted, I thoroughly enjoyed the thick layer of Mozarella cheese that became chewy when cooled. 

The Margherita was beautiful but forgettable…

We did begin our carb fest with some appetisers. Out of five, I enjoyed one: Roasted Chicken Wings. The juicy and meaty wings embodied a smoky barbecued scorched skin. The best I ever tasted. 

The luscious-looking Motorino’s Meatballs were forgettable although the texture was pretty remarkable. I heard suction sounds when I pierced my spoon into it.  

I don’t remember the two salads we shared although the Caesar Salad with the generous shavings of fresh Parmesan was stunning.

The Steamed Clams “Al Bianco” were forgettable.

Two desserts: Tiramisu was executed well. 

The Torta Al Cioccolato w/ Crema Inglese (flourless dark chocolate cake with vanilla cream sauce) was thick, rich and fudgy but I remembered Chocolate Origin tasting like that. 

When our order was taken, we noticed it was not written down. Thinking the short menu made it easy to memorise orders. We realised after the meal one of our appetisers, Roasted Mortadella, didn’t make it onto our table.  Forgetful as they may be, the service at Motorino was still impeccable! They allowed us to bring in our own birthday cake, provided a candle for us, and even provided fresh plates and cutleries for our cakes. (A stark contrast to my experience at Providore in Mandarin gallery; they cleared all our cutleries upon seeing our cake.) If I return to Motorino Pizza, it will only be for the service. 

An Italian Fine Dining Dinner @ Da Luca Italian Restaurant

Da Luca Italian Restaurant serves up homely Tuscany food in hearty portions. Helmed by Chef Luca, formerly Garibaldi and Gunther, this cosy restaurant located in Goldhill Plaza is a gem for us Centralers. I have visited Da Luca many times. On every visit, their big plates of pastas and grilled meat platters are my must-orders. Then guess what? My ex-secondary classmate married the Chef! A while back, she promised us something different from the restaurant’s usual offering: an Italian Fine Dining experience. One Friday evening, we finally got the pleasure to experience it. For S$135, we were presented and spoilt-rotten by a splendid six-course dinner. The filling courses show another side of Chef Lucas and his incredible ability to present a multitude of textures and flavours on a single plate. During our visit, it was also truffle season!  So that evening I ingested more truffles than my entire life before. Let me show you my dinner that evening:

We began with a glass of cold bubbly Prosecco and shared this bottle of Red.

It was a fine start.

Then a basket of homemade Foccacia Bread arrived. Warm, crusty outside and pillowy-tender within; I dare you to stop at just one slice.

For appetizers, we were served a Chilled Capellini Pasta with Truffle Emulsion served with Raw Scallops. Those who frequent Gunthers will find this dish familiar. Chef Luca spent some time there and this was pure evidence. Throwing in fresh raw scallop, I slurped up this surprsingly-refreshing carby dish in no time. My excuse for the lack of control with carbohydrates that evening: marathon the next day.

Slow-cooked Eggs with Burrata Cheese, Iberico Ham & Black Summer Truffles with Espagnole Sauce. To eat, mix this all up thoroughly.

Slow-cooked Spanish Octupus with Tomato Confit in Bagna Cauda. This dish surprised me big time! I associate octupus with spanish cuisine but to find in the italian cuisine was pretty uncommon to me. This combination of textures and flavours blew my dining companion away! Two pieces of perfectly-cooked octopus atop a savoury butter garlic anchovy sauce then to throw your senses around, subtly sweet tomatoes. Perfect.

Ravioli Di Carne Con Funghi E Pana: Chef’s Ravioli Stuffing with Sausages and Mushroom Cream Sauce topped with unabashedful amount of thinly-shaven black truffles. This flavour bomb pasta was extraordinary. Rich luscious mushroom sauce with savoury sausage ravioli swimming in it, I still dream about this… Unfortunately we only enjoyed a tasting portion that evening. But good news, this dish is a mainstay on the restaurant menu. If you are not on the fine dining set, be prepared for a huge plate of this rich luxurious goodness. Wait, what? Sure, I will join you too!

After the preceding heavy carb dish, the healthiest dish of the evening arrived: Pan crusted Chilean Codfish with Wilted Baby Spinach & Sweet Tomato Confit. This was ace!

This Smoked A4 Miyazaki with Balsamic Reduction & Grilled Hokkaido Corn brought out our carnivorous selves.

For dessert: Fondente Al Cioccolato Con Gelatio Al Torroncino (Molten Lava Chocolate Cake with Torroncino Ice Cream). Fine, this might not be the most exciting or creative dessert around. But this clasic dessert was a heartbreaker. Fudgy and filled with underdone molten cake, my selfishness came through when I realised my dining companion had little (sorry, Sam!) The two types of Gelato that accompanied the cake may not have been made in-house but why bother when Alfero Artisan Gelato is your good friend?! So for the first time, I tried one of Singapore’s best Gelaterias. The two flavours we had, Pistachio and Hazelnut, were rich and addictive. I cleaned plate. Can you blame me?

If you are interested in an Italian fine dining experience too, do call up the restaurant in advance to reserve your experience. Buon Viaggio! May you have a delicious time too.

Latteria Mozarella Bar: Would Return Just For The Desserts

Southern Italian restaurant, Latteria Mozarella Bar, on Duxton Hill may boost their cheese specialty but it will be their desserts that will bring me back. Last night, between my two friends and I, we had THREE desserts: two Tipsy Tiramisu Cups and the Raspberry & Pistachio Meringue Cake. Considering the size of the Tiramisu “Cup”, we went to town with our sugar intake. We were definitely not proud of our glutton behaviour  last night. Since we are unable to control each other, we resorted to promising not to have dinner together until six months later. 

The Tipsy Tiramisu Cup was first-bite magic. One cup between three of us just seemed inadequate hence the second order. The creaminess paired with the seriously-boozy sponge fingers topped with the most generous Coco Powder ever, made for a highly addictive sweet ending to our meal. We also liked that the dessert was devoid of any sickening-sweetness. Every bite tasted so fresh and home-made. Every spoonful a perfect contrast of luscious mascarpone cream and soaked fingers.

Equally spectacular was the Raspberry & Pistachio Meringue Cake. If not for the waiter swearing by this dessert, we would not have considered it. A thick crunchy meringue disk topped with generous and whipped-like-air cream, fresh raspberries, whole toasted pistachios, and a tangy raspberry compote. We were enamored by the perfect contrast of tangy berry components and only-slightly-sweet meringue. Heavenly. 

The savouries were not poor but just not outstanding. Out of the four we shared, only one savoury was spectacular and warranted a return visit. The handsome Grilled Whole Seabass Amalfitina was marinated in a salty green pesto. A triumphant highly unusual marinade! Although the kitchen was a little heavy-handed with the seasoning. The fish was cooked to perfection. The flesh so juicy and sweet, it literally melted away from the bones. A couple more dollars more expensive than the other dishes in the same category, I reckon given the portion, the most value-for-money.

There was no doubt our single plate of pasta for the evening: Linguine with Crab & Mascarpone was delicious. Generous crab shreds with al dente pasta combined with a tomato mascarpone sauce was spot-on! But it lacked oomph.

However our two appetizers could have been better. The Deepfried Calamari with Mayo & Arrabbiata may have been fried to perfection with a still-juicy and crunchy squid. But it was the weak batter that fell away from the squid so easily and quickly that was my biggest gripe. This made me miss the Calamari Fritti from Mozza in Epicurean Market last September.

Our second appetizer, a mammoth Burrata with Sweet Peppers Peperonata did not live up to its description on the front glossary page. My third time having Burrata, it lacked a juicy creamy center I had twice earlier. However praises for the sweet peppers peperonata! If sweet peppers tasted like this naturally, I would have it daily. 

We had a lovely house White wine to go with our dinner. I say, order the mains but remember to save tummy space for the desserts. You won’t regret it.