Nestled in the heart of Duxton Hill, the ambience in Latteria Mozzarella is homely and cozy, characteristic of a quality Italian restaurant. Diners have the option to go al fresco, which isn’t too bad an idea as the outdoor area is in a nice garden-like setting that can be pretty romantic on a cool evening.
With a long list of cheese appetizers to choose from we relied on the waiter’s recommendation of a Sfoglia ($20), a mozzarella roll with crab, tomato and avocado. I was looking forward to be wow-ed but unfortunately it was a little disappointing. The mozzarella had the expectedly soft and subtle texture however the combination of the rocket, crab and avocado ingredients did not do its part to enhance this as much as I’d have liked. The confit tomatoes actually did a good job as little sweet and tangy bursts within the wraps. Perhaps I’m just a fiend for strong cheeses but it was too mild for my liking and lacked oomph.
On a second visit, we tried the Bocconcini cheese, served a bed of Avocado & Olive Oil Cream ($20)
which more or less proved the theme of the cheese appetizers here. Beautifully prepared and gorgeously soft texture combined with the avocado puree, but again very subtle flavours typical of the Mozzarella family of cheeses. In future, I think I’d tackle the Burrata for some savoury kicks.
From there, the meal went uphill…
The Grilled Cuttlefish, Pomodorini & Salmoriglio Piccante ($30) was perfectly cooked – tender and creamy, with a texture of the right amount of chewy bite and then almost melting in your mouth. Seasoned well and dressed in a simple sauce of lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and herbs; I was impressed with how the freshness of the squid was brought out without being overpowered. The generous mound of sweet cherry tomatoes (and rocket) complimented well, and the toasted herb breadcrumb topping gave the dish another textural dimension. Yum-o.
I paired this with a glass of Paolo D’amico 2010 Seiano ($11). This white was slightly fruity and refreshing to the palate, with a citrus and stone fruit after tone and a lighter body. I preferred this to the Orvieto I’d had earlier.
When the Slow Roasted Lamb Shanks, Chickpeas & Red Wine Casserole ($30) arrived, my first thought was ‘Wow, that’s big.’ No carbs, no veg (not even rocket), just two huge legs with hunks of meaty goodness just falling off the bone, sitting in a rich red wine sauce. Nothing to distract you from the beauty of the lamb shanks (although I thought it would have been nice to have some grilled vegetables on the plate). Eating this was such a pleasure. The meat meltingly tender with all the fat and cartilage of the lamb dissolving from the hours of brutal slow cooking, bound together by the wonderful gravy packed full of the flavors of the red wine and fat drippings. I savoured every succulent mouthful to the end – delish!
The glass of red that went with the lamb was a Sole di Puglia 2008 Primitivo ($12). The wine was a deep dark purplish-red, with a nose laden with strong notes of blackberries, plum and cedar. I quite liked this one. A prime example of very heavy-bodied and complex wine, but yet with a very smooth texture with tannins that linger for a long finish. It had a slight lemony acidity that makes it a little too tart for easy drinking, but paired with the unctuous lamb and sauce, we have a winner.
(I later found out that a Primitivo is an Italian version of a Zinfandel – no wonder the similarities!)
The service was praiseworthy – friendly and efficient waitstaff who knew their menu well; dishes came out at the right time and pace; wine and water glasses were topped up promptly.
In all, this visit was an immensely pleasant one. Hearty Italian fare at fairly decent prices, This is a prized find. Although Italian wines aren’t my favourite, I will definitely be back for the food and to satiate my inner cheese monster.
Written by M.
Written over 2 visits, one was paid for by City Nomads, one was kindly sponsored by Latteria Mozzarella bar.