"I already knew [celebrity chef] Mario Batali at the time," recalls co-owner and renowned pastry chef Nancy Silverton, who was in town a couple of weeks ago for gourmet festival Epicurean Market. "When I mentioned to him that I was going to open up my own mozzarella bar, he said he was in! By this time, he was already in partnership with [restaurateur] Joe Bastianich, so that was how it all came to be." The initial intention was for the restaurant to run with the concept of an Osteria, but (serendipitously!), "the venue we ended up settling on had a additional Pizzeria space attached and that was how the Pizzeria concept evolved."
Silverton's idea for her own mozzarella bar was inspired by a similar concept that originated from a restaurant in Rome called Òbikà, based on the idea that "mozzarella cheese is to Italian food what sushi is to Japanese food". And it was this focus on a singular item that drew her to create something similar. Three years after the concept took off in a big way in L.A., the trio brought Mozza over to Singapore in 2010, as it was "the first opportunity that presented itself in Asia". The rest, as they say, is history.
Three years down the road, Osteria and Pizzeria Mozza have became such permanent fixtures (with hordes of loyal fans to boot) at MBS that it's hard to imagine who'd be in their place if Silverton hadn't followed through on her stroke of genius back in 2007. Like we said: serendipitous.
LifestyleAsia (LSA): You're in town for the Epicurean Market and must have had the chance to take a look around the city. What are your thoughts on the food scene in Singapore and how do you think it will evolve in the next few years?
Nancy Silverton (NS): It is evolving at a very fast pace -- it really is a very exciting time to be in the restaurant business here. When I was first came to Singapore about 15 years ago, it seemed like the main F&B restaurant offerings were local high-end Chinese and perhaps one or two French restaurants. Now, Singapore has become such a bustling food market. During my time here, I’ve met young chefs, who have, in turn, given me recommendations of at least 15 restaurants to try while in Singapore -- I don’t think I could name 15 new spots to try back in Los Angeles! Additionally, the cocktail scene here is also bustling.
LSA: While you're here for the Epicurean Market, are you going to be having an epicurean adventure of your own in the city?
NS: Absolutely. I’ve already been to Ola Cocina, Esquina and Gattopardo since getting here, and I have plans to try the newly-opened Sur. Of course, I’ve gone around to have little snacks at the other celebrity chef restaurants at Marina Bay Sands and I still have plans to go to Luke’s Oyster Bar before I leave.
When I was here last time, I went to Joel Robuchon’s restaurant which was great. I did have reservations at Pollen last week but unfortunately got too tied up working. I will be saving it for my next visit!
LSA: What's in the cards next for Nancy Silverton?
NS: We are opening our next restaurant in the fall in San Diego -- a hybrid of Pizzeria and Osteria. There are also plans to open a Pizzeria and Mozza-to-go concept at New York’s JFK airport.
LSA: What do you do when you're not working in the kitchens/on the business?
NS: I love eating in restaurants.
LSA: Hypothetical last meal, and who would you have it with?
NS: I would definitely have it with my kids -- I have one daughter and two sons. It would be a grilled ribeye with the bone in, accompanied by a green rucola salad with simple lemon vinaigrette dressing.