Batman, Mao Mao, Sayang and I had arranged to meet for dinner. When I arrived at the restaurant, I found Sayang standing outside. She was hopping mad. It turned out that because the restaurant was unable to reach Sayang, they gave our places away to the people on the waiting list. I tried to console her and said that we would still go for a good meal, just that it would be at another restaurant. While we waited for Batman and Mao Mao to arrive, we looked at the people queuing up outside the restaurant and wondered who were the lucky ones who took our places. I was rather Zen about the whole matter, which was quite unusual.
We decided to go for a good meal to make up for not being able to eat at the restaurant we wanted. Mao Mao suggested trying Latteria Mozzarella Bar, an Italian restaurant nearby. So all of us proceed to Latteria Mozzarella Bar which was a few streets away. We were early and the restaurant was pretty empty. As it was a mozzarella-focused eatery, there was a glossary page in the menu listing the different types of mozzarella.
After we had placed our orders, we were given bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The bread was crusty with a soft, holey interior.
We started off with the fior di latte, anchovies and basil pesto ($20). According to the glossary page, the fior di latte is round shaped mozzarella made from fresh pasteurized cow milk with a richly sweet milk flavor. Visually it was an impressive sight, a big white ball sitting on top of a disc made of mashed-up food. Like most mozzarella I’ve tried, the fior di latte is creamy but very light in taste, almost to the point of being bland. The anchovies and basil pesto provided the flavors of the dish; it was quite savory.
We also had the stracciatella, eggplant caponata and pine nuts ($20) for starters. From the glossary page again, stracciatella literally meaning ‘little rags’, is a mix of shredded cow’s milk mozzarella and fresh cream; delightfully rich. Being no fan of the eggplant, I was surprised that I liked this dish. The eggplant was soft while the stracciatella was rich and creamy. Even though there was no meat in the dish, it felt almost meaty when I ate it.
Moving onto the main course, we had the porcini and burrata pasta bake ($25). Another cheese listed on the glossary page, burrata means ‘buttered’ in Italian, it is a fresh artisanal cheese from Puglia, made from cow milk mozzarella and cream with a solid silky outer shell and soft creamy center. The top layer of pasta was a bit crisp, contrasting nicely with the softer pasta at the bottom. However, this was the least impressive dish of the evening, being just creamy and cheesy with not much other flavors.
The truffle and smoked mozzarella risotto ($25) was wonderfully done and risotto-lovers like Mao Mao and Sayang loved it. I am not a big risotto fan but even I had to admit that it was rather tasty. It was creamy but still rather light. The portion was rather large and we all agree that no matter how much you love risotto, this dish was difficult for one person to finish all by himself.
The grilled beef sirloin tagliata, rucola and parmigiano ($35) was very good. It was tender and tasty. It was cooked on the outside but the middle was still a bit red. While the meat was flavorful enough to eat on its own, Batman said that eating the beef with the cheese added another layer of flavor.
Lastly, we had the slow roasted lamb shanks, chickpeas and red wine casserole ($30). The portion was quite big and it seemed enough to easily fill up two people. The meat was soft enough to fall off the bone and break up with a fork. The pairing of chickpeas, red wine casserole and lamb was unfamiliar and felt a bit strange to me. Therefore, I’m not sure if I like this dish or not, even though it was admittedly rather tasty. I am also undecided about the sauce which was somewhat sweetish with red wine overtones.