Italian Lunch at Dolce Vita in Mandarin Oriental, Singapore

How I wish I can enjoy my lunch while enjoying this view every day... 

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Well, there's no harm in dreaming right? At least this "dream" became a reality one fine day when I joined a couple of food bloggers for a nice Italian lunch at Dolce Vita in Mandarin Oriental Singapore. This was to give a warm welcome to Chef Omar Bernardi, the restaurant's new Chef de Cuisine.

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Chef Omar Bernardi began his culinary career in some of the top Italian restaurants back in his hometown in Milan, Italy. Restaurants such as two-Michelin-starred San Domenico Ristorante and one-Michelin -starred La Terezza dell'Eden among others became Chef Omar's training ground as he continued to hone his kitchen skills and created a number of gastronomical delights in the process. He later moved here to Singapore in 2011 and has recently joined Mandarin Oriental Singapore.

What's a chef welcome without good food right? For lunch that day, we had a feast! Chef Omar has specially created a 4-course lunch meal for us and I couldn't stop thanking my lucky stars for this opportunity. Yay!

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For starters, we had a basket of warm bread and a trio of spreads -- basil cream, tomato pesto and tomato cream. I couldn't choose which one I like best as all are so yummy! Instead I would alternate them so you can just imagine how many rolls of  bread I ended up eating.

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This was followed by some sort of an intermezzo where Chef created a cleansing sorbet using rock melon. The taste was very interesting and it has successfully "cleaned" our palate for the official start of our 4-course meal.

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First that came out was this beautifully created Fiori di zucca gratinati -- gratinated zucchini flowers filled with sheep milk ricotta and served with roasted cherry tomatoes and taggiasche olive. Okay, I have to say that I'm no stranger to this dish. I've tried quite a number of Fiori di Zucca versions back in Manila and while it was good, it's not the kind that I would go crazy about for days and weeks after that first bite. It was very different here.

So, I took my first bite with very little expectations and the moment the creamy warm ricotta filling hit my taste buds, my eyes widened and I looked at my table companions to say "THIS IS SO GOOD!" No, I'm not exaggerating. Somehow, this beautiful zucchini flower has turned into something so good that I wished my plate was filled with at least a dozen and not just two sexy pieces of. The zucchini had a silky texture and pleasant mild taste which then allowed the ricotta filling to take center stage. This was just the start of the meal and yet I was already fighting the urge to stand up and give Chef Omar a standing ovation. Okay.. had to control myself as we moved on to the next course.

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Next, we had the Spaghetti con gamberi e Bottarga. Oh gosh, I love anything with shrimps (gamberi) and bottarga (fish roe) what more if you combine them both! These fall under my list of favorite things together with tartufo (truffles) which I simply can't get enough of. While the serving was quite small, this one was packed with so much flavor! The homemade pasta had a very good bite to it. Perhaps one that most diners would have to get used to but each bite was so delicious. You can really taste the different of a homemade fresh pasta vs. the store-bought one. In every bite, you'll enjoy the strong shrimp flavor through and through. Served with fava beans for the extra nutty texture and light chili for the mild spicy kick. Definitely my favorite dish that day!

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Following the pasta, we had the Branzino alle olive --  Seabass, smoked eggplant, spinach, black olive and piquillos sauce. At first glance, I thought we're having some meat but as soon as my fork cut through the fish, I swooned at the tender seabass meat that literally melted in my mouth. It's definitely not your regular plate of seabass as this one had a unique Mediterranean taste brought about by the mix of eggplant, spinach and olives.

For dessert, we were given two options and since my table mates all love their sweets, we were allowed to get one of each. Alright!

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We first had the Te' nero c ciliegia which tube of Earl Grey ivory chocolate mousse with a bar of pistachio crust and a scoop of cherry morello sorbet. All chocolate lovers will adore this!

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The second dessert was the Carpaccio di ananas which was something I prefer more than the chocolate number. Thinly sliced pineapple served with ricotta citrus cream. I wonder how Chef was able to make the pineapple dry yet sweet in every bite. This was very refreshing and definitely a perfect way to end our delicious seafood meal.

If you haven't been to Dolce Vita, well now is the perfect time to schedule a meal there or perhaps for those who have been there before, it's also a good time for another visit to try some of Chef Omar's special creations.

Dolce Vita is located at Mandarin Oriental Singapore, 5 Raffles Avenue, Marina Square, Singapore. Call them at 6338-0066. 

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