In terms of food, the Italians are pretty well-known for 3 Ps – Pizzas, Pastas, and Paninis. For Munchy Monday today, we shift from the normal coffee and cakes, to the Italian fares – featuring Motorino, a pizzeria serving up the most authentic fare of wood-fired pizzas that are freshly made to order, as well as Marco Marco, known for their pastas which pack quite a flavour despite their deceivingly simple appearances.
Located in Clarke Quay, Motorino is a 6-month old pizzeria that serves up traditional Italian pizzas with no frills attached to it. It is as such that they pride themselves in using only the most natural, simple and fresh ingredients – with flour and organic extra virgin olive oil specially flown in from Italy, even the cheese used here is of a higher grade, such as Fior di latte, which means “Flower of milk”, a higher grade of mozzarella cheese than those commonly used elsewhere.
The pizzas take over 30 hours simply to prepare, from the preparation of the dough to the fermentation itself, and are cooked in a wood-fired oven with temperatures constantly kept in check and fired to an extremely high temperature. It takes about 90 seconds to 2 minutes to cook a pizza, as opposed to many other pizza establishments which may take as long as 10 minutes to do so.
To start off our meal with, we had the mixed greens salad, which comprised of fresh leafy greens, cherry tomatoes and red onions, drenched in a balsamic dressing that is specially made in-house together with extra virgin olive oil. The texture of the dressing was rich, thick and mildly tart, with a fragrant and sweet aftertaste that lingers in your mouth but isn’t at all piercing. The onions and tomatoes gave the salad an overall crunch and taste in terms of spiciness and sweet-sourness, and brought out the creamy and almost caramelised taste of the vinaigrette nicely as well.
Made from minced pork mixed with breadcrumbs and pecorino cheese before being braised in tomato sauce, the meatballs were firm on the outside, and soft but not mushy on the inside. Complemented with the mild tangy-sweet tomato sauce, which had a good depth of flavour compared to the bottled tomato bases that tend to be pretty acidic as a result of the added preservatives, the sweetness of the meat is further enhanced, and topped with basil and cheese, there was a aromatic yet delightful salty edge given to the meatballs.
Roasted using the same oven as the pizzas, the mouth-watering mix of freshly wood-grilled meat resulted in a appetisingly sourish and smoky scent that incites your tastebuds immediately when drizzled with lemon juice. The meaty wings were slightly charred on the outside, and retained their overall sweetness and juiciness. Coupled with the mint leaves, onions, olive oil and red pepper flakes, the chicken wings were well-seasoned and flavourful.
Despite the fact the the Margherita is considered to be the plainest pizza ever, with it’s tomato base and topped with basil leaves and fior di latte cheese, this simple pizza is not to be trifled with as it offers the most authentic Italian flavours ever. With a vibrant colour and leopard spotted puffy crust (which we learnt is due to the fermentation and the sea salt in the dough, rather than it being charred and overcooked), the taste was clean and delightfully moist and chewy. There’s a interesting history to this pizza as well – Apparently this was made for Queen Margherita who loved the flavours, and coincidentally too, it is the colours of the flag of Italy as well, therefore earning its name Margherita after the queen herself!
Most people would shun brussel sprouts due to its strong taste that is generally bitter and bordering pungent, but here at Motorino, there was no hint of that with the vegetable. Instead, due to the heat from the oven, the brussel sprouts were cooked to a certain extent such that a sweet taste is exuded out, and together with the bits of salty, smoky bacon, the tastes complemented really well. Slightly chewier than the Margherita, probably because more cheese was used, the brussel sprouts and bacon therefore gave an added crunch to the texture and when paired with Tabasco sauce, the additional spice and sourness takes you through a myriad of flavours. Coupled with garlic slices that lay hidden in the brussel sprouts and bacon, results in an added fieriness that most Singaporeans would be accustomed and find comfort with. Fun fact: Motorino is probably the only place here in Singapore that serves brussel sprouts and bacon pizza!
The open kitchen concept of Motorino makes dining an experiential learning without having to do anything hands-on as you get to see the chefs in action as they prepare and make your food right before your eyes. Also, this makes service staff able to see diners clearly too, which makes for fast and trouble-free attention-grabbing, quick and prompt.
Compared to higher-ended Italian restaurants here in Singapore, Motorino serves up a pretty authentic Italian experience minus the burden on the pockets. For the execution and how close it gets to actual food served in Italy, we would say it is pretty value for money without the need to fly in to Italy just to get a good pizza.
3A River Valley Rd
Opening Hours: 11.30am – 11.00pm
Along the stretch of Circular Road, there is a whole of bunch of restaurants and bars that can get rowdy at times, and amongst the chaos, it is still hard to miss Marco Marco out with its bright red signage. An Italian restaurant that serves up delicious food, sans the MSG and having a reputation for its fast service, it has become a go-to place to chill after hours for the many who work in the area.
At Marco Marco, one is never lacking in choices. At this Italian restaurant, a wide range of staples from the traditional Italian cuisine is offered, such as panini, pasta and pizza. For those of you who have more adventurous tastebuds, the internazionale section does serve up some really interesting concoctions!
With the staff’s recommendation, we took our picks: A pasta and a pizza specifically.
For the pasta, we decided to go for something spicy and The Jaipur immediately appealed to us. Unlike the recent uprise of Tom Yum pastas, we thought this was a refreshing change and option made available on the menu. A North Indian influenced dish that consists of paneer, roasted eggplants and cherry tomato chunks, with tandoori chicken bits tossed in spicy masala sauce, the pasta came with a small serving of mint sauce (served up separately) that is meant to complement the dish.
To cater to the local tastebuds, the pasta was cooked slightly longer, instead of al-dente as the Italians would like it. As such, the soft pasta was able to pick up more of the masala sauce, giving it a good blend of flavours that wasn’t too jarring or odd. We decided to add in the mint sauce after a few bites, and this elicited a cooling sensation in the mouth, which we found interesting. However, do be warned not to go crazy on the mint sauce. The sauce itself has a strong distinctive taste from the mint leaves and if added in excess, it overpowers the pasta. Summing it up, the dish was interesting but scored only average in the taste aspect – it smelt more impressive than it tasted. We would have preferred if the masala sauce had a little more kick to it.
Pizza is a common international food language. Everyone loves himself some pizza! Being the normal people we are, there was no way we were leaving without having it. After the internationally influenced pasta, we decided to go for a traditional pizza – The Palermo. Topped with ham and mushrooms, the thin-crust pizza was also drizzled over with some truffle oil. We liked how the truffle oil was added in just the right proportion that it did not masked the other flavours of the dish. Besides the crust that was a wee bit thicker than we would have liked it, this dish was a satisfying solution to our pizza-cravings.
From interior of the restaurant exudes a rustic feel – metal-legged stools and long tables, with undone ceiling and brick walls. It was not the kind of fancy restaurant that would make you think twice about your budget before stepping in. In fact, Marco Marco has a unique homely-feel to it. Paintings on the walls and brightly-patterned pillows makes one feel just right at home. If you prefer to dine outdoors, they also offer alfresco dining at the front porch – ideal for couple of drinks.
The restaurant’s goal is to serve up fresh-ingredient food at affordable prices for everyone to enjoy. We think they have achieved that. Starters are as low as $5. The main dishes ranges from $12 to $18. Also, check out their page for updates on Happy Hour promotions.
23 Circular Road
Sun – Fri: 09:00 am to 11:00 pm
We are giving away 5 lunch sets from Motorino!
1. Like us on Facebook for our weekly Munchy Mondays,
2: Tell us: How did the pizza, Margherita, got its name?