Mozza


When people visit me in Singapore, they usually want to have an authentic Singaporean experience. Instead of going to a series of staid tourist traps, they want to see the real Singapore, the places the locals go to. I’m local (well, I’ve been here almost 18 months now) so I take them to the places I go to eat. Like Mozza, a pizza restaurant in the Marina Bay Sands Shoppes.

Nobody knows why the Shoppes have that dreadful name. Maybe they thought a whimsical, anachronistic name like "Shoppes" would give a humanising tinge to a brutal edifice of steel and glass, air conditioned to within an inch of its life, like some over sanitized metaphor for Singapore itself. Or perhaps it’s because they could copyright a word like "Shoppes" because it’s not a proper word, just like Intel made up "Pentium" because "586" isn’t something you can stop other people from using. Although if it is to prevent copyright infringement, it seems a little over-the-top; I know there’s lots of fakery in Asia, but if somebody constructs an ersatz shopping mall, hotel and casino down the road from the Marina Bay Sands and calls the mall "The Shops At Murina Boy Sends", there are going to be more issues than just the spelling of the name…

Anyway, we went to Mozza for a surprise birthday lunch. Unsurprisingly, we turned up late because I’m disorganized and a terrible friend, but we did stay for more than three hours of pizza devouring, which hopefully gets us back in the good books. If you have enough people, Mozza will give you a private room to eat in, which is superb; a dark chamber stacked with wine, and with no adult supervision, allowing you to fantasise about drinking all of Mozza’s prodigious stock of wine while the waiters are bringing pizza from the kitchen. I’m a moral paragon, so I just drank beer and didn’t steal any wine. It’s exciting when a pizza restaurant stocks oatmeal stout, as well as the mandatory Perroni.

The pizza is pretty good at Mozza, as it should be for a high end pizza joint. The burrata pizza is basically a margarita for show-offs: dollops of creamy mozzarella amid sundried tomatoes. The crust is slightly bigger on a Mozza pizza than I’d like (there’s a waste of valuable space for delicious, artery clogging cheese) and it’s slightly chewier than I prefer, but it’s still damn good.

Being vegetarian, I only had a couple of the pizzas circulating the table. Burrata: good. Broccoli: not quite so good. The broccoli tasted slightly overdone to me, like vegetables did in the 1980s when we boiled everything for half an hour just because we could. Nobody else disliked it though; perhaps they weren’t suffering flashbacks to their childhood like I was.

We had lots of side dishes; there were some good things for me, like lentils with goat cheese, and little caprese salads, and there were also exciting things I thought I could eat, like marrow, until I realized it was bone marrow, not a cousin of summer squash.

For once, we saved room for dessert. I had a terrific, very sweet butterscotch dish; my wife had a rather over-alcoholic tiramisu; never my favourite, this one had just too much booze in it, too much chocolate powder on top, too much tiramisu, basically. Coffee here is ok, although for an Italian restaurant it did feel a little, well, normal, rather than totally excellent.

So in short: get the private room if you can. Focus on pizzas slathered in cheese and eschew any ‘healthy’ options. Have the butterscotch for dessert, don’t worry about coffee.

Afterwards, we walked back from the Marina Bay Sands to Chinatown. This is technically known as "a stupid thing to do at 3pm on a sunny day" and although we tried hiding from the sun in the subterranean depths of the Marina Bay Link, that entailed getting lost and wasting half the day walking up and down different deserted corridors, as if the charmless boulevards of the Shoppes hadn’t been enough.

So take a taxi home, that’s what the smart locals do.

Clearly I won’t get any awards for service to tourism for my advice to "eat lots of pizza, take a taxi home", but it is something I’ve practiced until I’ve developed some expertise. Not everyone can cope with this dedication to the ignorance of local food, that’s all I’m trying to say.


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