Monday, May 4, 2009

Pasta, truffles, and cheese: Da Mario Pizzeria

with Prof Horolographer and Dr. Mycroft. Recommended by Prof Massi

Massi was quite excited about this little Italian place, "you gotta try this", he exclaimed."Its special!". Massi does not mess with words like this, especially when speaking about his homeland food...and being Italian and Florentine, he was particularly proud of his heritage and Italian cooking.

So what's so special? Well, its pasta...spagetti to be specific. Tossed and mixed inside a block of cheese...grana padano to be specific. Then drizzled with truffle oil, and generously toppped with shaved black truffles. Can we get more special?

Grana padano is an Italian cheese, very similar to Parmigiano. Indeed the method of making Grana is similar to Parmigiano. Generally considered to be similar in tastes, the Grana is generally less complex and less pungent of the two. Grana is produced under the strict control, though the region is rather large...unlike Parmigiano which can only be produced in Parma and Regiano.

Chef Mario told us that Parmigiano is usually eaten with bread and seldom for cooking, and that Grana is the most popular cheese in Italy.

Mario begins by scraping the cheese with a special knife - the cotello per Parmigiano, which is also used for scraping Parmigiano cheese. With the Grana Padano, this produces a grainy like cheese...the Italian word for grain is implied by the name, the cheese is grains of rice when scrapped.

When sufficient cheese is made, a portion of spagetti is cooked quickly in a pot of salted water...I noticed Mario used freshly made spagetti...which was shrink wrapped...looks like local mee.

Some hot water is added to the cheese, and the noodles are dumped inside the cheese wheel. More vigrous mixing by the Chef.

And then scooped into a serving plate. Truffle oil is added. Out comes a box of gorgeous frozen black truffles. Even before cutting the truffles, the fragrance floats into the room...aromatic and pungent...a wonderful fragrance!

Quickly shave bits of truffle on the pasta...

and VIOLA! pasta is served:

The pasta tasted wonderful. The spagetti itself was rather soft, not al dente, but soft like well cooked local mee. The cheese was powerful, semi-melted, it had a strong salt base. The truffles dominate in the nose of the dish...I liked it quite a lot. We had two large servings ($24 each), and were quite satisfied.

We also sampled some of Chef Mario's particular, the two which stood out were prepared in his own kitchens.

The ubiquitious tiramisu

The tiramisu is home made...very nice. Rich, creamy, with a hint of coffee and liquour.

Interesting restaurant...small, cozy place...Affable chef, who seems talented, sincere and honest. Will be re-visiting.

Da Mario
60 Robertson Quay
01-05/06 The Quayside
Singapore 232252
Tel: 62357623
Closed Mondays
Tue - Sun Lunch 11:30am to 3pm, Dinner 6pm to 10:30pm

Photonotes: All pics shot with Lumix LX3 at ISO 200, f/2. in camera AWB. Except for Tiramisu, shot by Mycroft with Nikon D700 with 28-105 f/3.5-4.5 at 105mm, f/4.5 at ISO3200. Exposure 1/30s. WB rebalanced with PS.
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