Sweet Living: Dolce Vita Singapore
Published 03 August 2012
Combining a ten-hour flight and an Italian appetite to match the belly size of the tenor on the sound system, disappointment was not on the menu this night at Dolce Vita at Mandarin Oriental Singapore.
Text by Thomas Jones
Besides being tasty, good Italian food is simple and easy to prepare making it one of the world’s most popular cuisines. Great Italian food, however, takes a little bit more. It takes passion and years of experience to master, so when you find a chef and a venue like those at Dolce Vita, then you have the perfect combination for happiness and good living. Located next to the Mandarin Oriental Singapore’s swimming pool with its soft lighting and cityscape background, Dolce Vita provides two very different dining options; casual al fresco styles in the sultry evening air, or the much more rarified and refined ambience inside.
Often in the Singapore heat, inside is best, and being far removed from guests who exercise their right to splash about in pools late into the evening, much more romantic. The décor is elegant yet simple and comfortable preferring to let the food take the limelight, with crisp linens, wooden chairs and yellow striped fabrics, stone floors, recessed lighting, large canvas panels in azure and sunset red for the Mediterranean touch, and a large open kitchen, for real time viewing into Chef Marco Pedrelli’s kitchen nerve centre.
Like any Italian cook worth his salt, Marco’s education started with his grandmother. At six years old, he harvested his first olives and strawberries at the family farm and it was here that young Marco became absorbed with standing in the family kitchen learning the craft of baking polenta bread, making tagliatelle and raviolis, coring olives and learning the secrets of the family’s ancient pesto recipe. His philosophy is one of simplicity. “We remain true to the Italian culinary roots,” he says. “The authentic flavours of Italian cuisine are further enhanced by a presentation with a simple contemporary touch. We purchase special ingredients from Italy, for the authenticity of these ingredients is integral to the taste of the dish,” he claims proudly.
Chef Marco’s philosophy is one of simplicity.
Consequently much of the food comes straight from the farms and rolling hills of the old country. Things like aged Iberico de Bellota ham, Parmesan Reggiano, asceto balsamico, and Apulia burrata mozzarella cheese that result in the dishes that graced our table that night; tortellini of wild forest mushroom and ricotta cheese, pecorino shavings, pine nut crumble and extra virgin olive oil; morel ragout mosaic of foie gras terrine with strawberry variation; and Aquarello risotto with black Piedmont truffles, to name but a few. And what meal would be complete without the prima dolce vita itself, a classic Italian tiramisu with fresh mascarpone. Not all the foodstuffs leave so deep a carbon footprint, however, and they seek most of their fresh meat and seafood locally or from neighbouring regions, so as to be more environmentally and economically sustainable with no compromise on quality.
All in all we had travelled a quarter of the way around the world for this dinner, which must be some kind of obsessive record of sorts. Whatever it is I can highly recommend it as a way to bring on an appetite, and dining at Dolce Vita as a way to sate it. And it’s much easier than flying all the way to Italy.