You’ve gotta love that Verve

6 12 2011

Nothing beats having simple things done right, and that is just what a Pizza Bar in Marina Bay, which had its opening on 1 Dec 2011, attempts to do with its selection of pizzas, pastas and gelato. “Simple things done right” is a guiding principle that has found its way into the motto of Verve, the group that behind the Pizza Bar which is the latest addition to its family, as well as Pizzerias in Clarke Quay and One North, having started out at its original location in Gillman Village.

Gelato being served on opening night on 1 Dec 2011. An exquisite set of flavours of Verve's homemade gelato is on offer at the Pizza Bar on Marina Bay at $6 a scoop.

Mr Rob Coldman and partner Karen on opening night.

The band played on ....

Verve, the brainchild of Mr Rob Coldman, is very much inspired by passionate people behind simple but great products that people want, products that are without complication and fuss. This includes the likes of Enrico Piaggio, whose vision of developing a low-cost motorcycle for the masses in the 1940s resulted in the Vespa scooter – the simplicity of which endures to this very day.

Pizzas, gelato, tiramisù shots, cocktails and more was on offer at Verve Marina Bay's opening night on 1 Dec 2011.

My introduction to Verve, came by way of an invitation to an event at the Marina Bay City Gallery which culminated in a tasting session at the al fresco Pizza Bar – the setting of which was simple and almost unassuming. Comfortably seated, it was what came next that delighted me. First to be served were the cocktails and if not for the fact that I was driving, I would have had more than one of the refreshing Appletinis, made with fresh Granny Smith apples. The selection of starters Calamari with Garlic Cream and Potato Wedges with Chilli Crab dip were simply well fried, drained and utterly delicious especially the Chilli Crab dip that accompanied the wedges.

An Appletini - made with fresh Granny Smith apples.

Verve Pizza Bar at the Marina Bay City Gallery.

Calamari with Verve Garlic Cream.

Potato Wedges with Chilli Crab dip.

What I certainly enjoyed the most were the pizzas – authentic thin crust Italian style pizzas made with fresh dough and topped with a simple and well-balanced selection of toppings that gave the pizzas a clean and uncomplicated taste – just how I like my pizzas. Of the pizzas we were to taste, the Enzo bowled me over with its toppings of Peking duck with just the right amount of sauce, fresh Japanese cucumber and spring onions –the menu did hint that “You’ll come back for more!” and its something I certainly would go back for a lot more! The other pizzas on offer, the Altobello (Spicy Beef), Mancini (BBQ Chicken) and Capricciosa (Ham and Artichokes), were no less delicious, and if not for the unique experience of Peking duck on pizza the Capricciosa would have got my vote.

Pizza Capricciosa with Mozzarella, tomato, mushrooms, artichokes, cooked.

Pizza Mancini - BBQ chicken with onions, cheese and peppers.

Pizza Enzo - Peking duck topped with fresh Japanese cucumber ... the menu suggests that "You'll come back for more!" - I certainly would!

There was also a treat at the end, a raid on the gelato bar. With a selection of Forrest Berries Sorbet, Decadent Chocolate, Lime Sorbet, Chocolate Baileys, Hazelnut, pistachio, Green Almond, Vanilla Cognac, Cookies and Cream – it was hard to make a choice. I finally settled on the Hazelnut – I somehow invariably fall for a nut flavoured gelato, something that I had no regrets about, savouring each mouthful of the soft creamy and nutty flavoured treat – something as well that I would most certainly be back again for more!

Too many choices at the gelato counter!

A selection of gelato.

About Verve:

Verve was established with a short motto that has become the guiding principle to our business proposition. “Simple things done right”.

We’ve been inspired by passionate people who have set out to do the same. People who have provided simple but great products that people want, without complication and without fuss.

People like aeronautical designer, Enrico Piaggio who back in the 1940’s had a vision of a low-cost motorcycle for the masses.

Long before ergonomic studies had been recognised or fully understood, the riding position of the Vespa was designed by Enrico to let the rider sit upright with a clear view, comfortably and safely.

The motorbikes of the time he found to be uncomfortable and bulky, with wheels that were difficult to change after a puncture. Worse still, the drive chain made them dirty. However, his aeronautical experience secured the answer to every problem. To eliminate the chain he designed a vehicle with a stress-bearing body and direct mesh; he put the gear lever on the handlebar to make it easier to ride; to make tyre changing easier he removed the forks in favour of a supporting arm similar to an olio aircraft carriage. Finally, he designed a body that would protect the driver so that he would not get dirty or dishevelled.

In 1946 the first Vespa (Wasp in Italian) was born. It has become an enduring icon in it’s own right, and as transport for the masses is a perfect example of something simple, done right.

Classic images of Enrico’s work can be found at our new restaurant at One-North, off North Buona Vista Road.

Like Enrico’s Vespa, our aim is to continually improve.



11 04 2011

That Serangoon Gardens is an area that is blessed with some of the best eating places in Singapore, there is no doubt. It had been a haunt for food lovers since I can remember, with Chomp Chomp being a popular food centre even back in the days when I was a child. Now, there is even more reason for food lovers to brave the weekend crowds that throng Serangoon Gardens in search of good makan. The redevelopment of what had been for a while, Serangoon Garden Village (developed around the former Paramount Theatre), to an new and very interesting mall, myVillage, one with which the owners’ aim to bring Orchard Road into the suburbs. Packed into a really cosy mall that does not give the impression of having the space to, is a wonderful array of food establishments, which I am given to understand, have been hand selected for the care in which each outlet puts into in bringing the culinary delights on offer, from the traditional to the new age, that is certain to leave one a little spoilt for choice and with a food sampling invitation from the good people of myVillage, along with a few other bloggers, I was able to find out a little more of the choices that are on offer.

myVillage brings not just a modern mall into the heart of Serangoon Garden, but also an interesting array of culinary delights to an area that is already well known as a food lovers haunt.

We started out at Daikokuya, which translates into “God of Wealth” in Japanese, during which we were introduced not just to its interesting menu of Ramen on offer, but also to the chef, Chef Suzuki. We were told of the painstaking process with which the rich Ramen broth is prepared, with pork or chicken bones boiled along with seafood and vegetables for many hours. In the preparation of everything on offer, there is no effort spared in bringing out the best, an example is with the cha shu (sliced roast pork) being boiled in the base broth of 2 hours and simmered in a special sauce for a further 3 hours. We had two sample sized portions to start our food journey, one was of the Original Miso Noodles which came complete with a ramen egg that is soft boiled as the write-up provided described it, to perfection and the other, of the Stamina Noodles, made to last a long time in the tummy (hence “stamina”). With both, the rich broth was certainly a treat, and certainly as ramen food for the soul goes, provides not just the soul, but also the palate and one’s stomach with a wonderful treat.

Dikokuya Original Miso Ramen

Chef Suzuki of Daikokuya giving an introduction of the offerings at the modern version of a ramen-ya.

Stamina Ramen.

The sample size Original Miso Ramen - complete with a piece of a soft-boiled egg. Daikokuya uses organic eggs in their dishes.

The sample sized Stamina Ramen.

Moving on, we next found ourselves at Bakerzin Artisan Bread. Bakerzin is already well established in Singapore and well known for its sweet treats, and the Bakerzin Artisan Bread provides the group with another dimension, being the first store in the group dedicated to a variety of European inspired breads, bringing Daniel Tay, the founder of the group back to his roots – baking bread. I have always been one for bread – and a good loaf of freshly baked bread is something that I can never resist. It is the aroma of freshly baked bread that often draws me to a bakery – and that is something that is certainly evident at Bakerzin Artisan Bread, with a display of hard crusted European styled breads that makes me go weak at the knees. What’s catches the eye is not just the bread, but bottles of jams that makes the mouth water, as well as a display of cheeses that would certainly complement the bread on offer. The artisan bread we were told are made using only French whole wheat flour, made from the endosperm of wheat grain, which besides being lower in protein and gluten, is higher in starch and has a distinct darker colour – giving the breads a rich flavour and colour, of which we had a sample of, along with a selection of colourful and uniquely flavoured macaroons, all of which did not disappoint.

Bakerzin Artisan Bread offers a range of hard crusted European styled breads that makes me go weak at the knees.

A range of cheeses is also on offer at the Bakerzin Artisan Bread outlet ...

... along with a range of jams ...

From European styled breads, we moved to a Mediterranean inspired deli, Gastronomia Da Paolo. There we met with Marina, who having just arrived from the fashionable city of Milan, had to deal with a whole bunch of hungry bloggers. The deli, which stocks essentials for Italian cooking including pasta, olive oil, and even wine, all sourced directly from Italy (it helps that Marina’s father knows the suppliers), aslo serves a selection of pizza and pasta, as well as sandwiches … perfect for a quick and tasty bite – or to pack for a picnic. We had selection of pizza to sample, just how I like my pizza, thin crust and loaded with toppings. My favourite was the Salmon pizza with its wonderful flavour derived from a complement of pesto. To top that off, Italian bubbly in the form of Prosecco was served and the short visit to the deli was completed with a a wonderful Tiramisù, made with rich Valrhona chocolate and Mascarpone cheese.

Marina of Gastronomia Da Paolo.

A little slice of heaven ... loved the taste of the pesto that went with the Smoked Salmon Pizza!

I liked the Salami Pizza too!

Prosecco ... Italian bubbly being poured ....

... certainly complemented the food on offer ...

Couldn't resist the Tiramisù ... made with rich Valrhona chocolate and Mascarpone cheese ...

... and neither could Cherie ...

Moving up, we moved to Old Hong Kong Taste, part of the Old Hong Kong Group of restaurants started by Victoria Li, a resident in Singapore who is from Hong Kong. Her motivation was to bring a taste of the real Hong Kong to Singapore which she and some of her fellow Hong Kongers felt was missing from Singapore. In Old Hong Kong one will find a rich selection of traditional Hong Kong dishes and new age ones that have been adapted from the old taste of Hong Kong. The decor and accompanying porcelain of the restaurant was carefully selected to reflect the location – with a garden theme with butterflies for the setting of a garden – Serangoon Garden … We had a taste of the amazingly tender Flaming Kurobuta Pork with Danggui Sauce, something that seemed to melt in one’s mouth together with the rich sauce that surprising isn’t bitter, but accompanied the juicy pieces of Kurobuta pork excellently. The second item we tasted was a fusion of tastes, the Deep Fried Prawn with Durian Paste and Maltesers that went very well together …. we were told that the restaurant is particularly well patronised during the weekends and also serves a selection of Dim Sum, and reservations are recommended …

Flaming Kurobuta Pork with Danggui Sauce ...

The tender and succulent pieces of Kurobuta Pork seemed to just melt in my mouth ...

Deep Fried Prawn with Durian Paste and Maltesers (yes, you read right!) ....

The last stop on the culinary adventure was Chinta Manis, or Sweet Love … and for those with a love of the sweet Nonya cakes, the Chinta Manis Peranakan Patisserie is a must visit. The third of three stores in Singapore, the so called Patisserie aims to please with a selection of good hand-made Nonya kueh-kueh, in which traditional methods are employed, as well as of Western styled cakes. We had a taste of the very interesting Chendol Agar Agar – a layered combination of the different flavours of Chendol into a piece of jelly … not the Chendol I am used to, but one that I can certainly take to, as well as of the Chocolate Ecstasy Cake … rich and moist and made from Valrhona chocolate – enough to send one into chocolate heaven … It was a perfect way I guess to end the evening … and with the intimate knowledge that I am now equipped with of some of what is on offer at the new mall … it does look like, barely into the second quarter of the year, it would be a tough ask for me to keep my New Year’s resolution to shed a few pounds … for yet another year …

Chinta Manis is located in the Basement of myVillage.

Chinta Manis offers a selection of hand-made Nonya Kueh ...

one of my favourites ... Kueh Dadar ...

Sambal Udang ... or Lemper Udang ... another of my all time favourites.

The very rich Chocolate Ecstasy Cake ...