Obika is first and foremost a Mozzarella Bar. A modern day restaurant concept, revolving around the remarkably fresh and wholesome goodness, of that almighty white ball. Last night at the newest addition to this restaurant family on Charlotte Street, we got a rare insight into the inspiration and cultivation of Obika and it’s remarkable cuisine.
Speaking with owner and founder of the restaurant, Sylvio Ursini, who also just happens to be the creative director of Italian luxury brand, Bulgari, one definitely gets the sense that food is not just a passion, but indeed a life philosophy. With a very strong emphasis on the relationship between the origin of the produce and the delivery, I can’t help but taste this in every bite.
Three times a week, Obikà’s delicious Mozzarella di Bufala arrives fresh from artisan producers of Campania in Southern Italy. And my oh my, what a culinary treat this is, tough on the outside and shockingly fresh and creamy on the inside. After sampling the classic cheese first, we then sink our teeth into a much stronger, smoked affumicata and a decadent, almost desert like Stracciatella di Burrata.
We follow with a few different cured meats, the Bresaola a stand out, along with the prosciutto di parma, which works remarkably well wrapped around a slice of that incredible mozzarella. What makes the food so special here is not simply the incredible quality and freshness, but just knowing that it has arrived directly to your table, from the heart of Italy’s small time farmers and producers, many of whom are considered friends.
A firm believer in the Slow Food Movement, Obikà introduces a different ingredient each month, like the La Motticella organic peeled plum tomatoes from Paolo Petrilli’s farm in Tavoliere delle Puglie or the famed pasta di Gragnano from pasta gentile, which we had the extreme pleasure of sampling with nothing but a dash of strong olive oil. Sometimes it really is about the simplicity of food.
And again, this is something you learn from speaking with Sylvio, time, devotion and a knowledge of ones craft all play a part in which produce he chooses to import. Another reoccurring theme, is the inspiration which is drawn from the specialised sushi bars of Japan, essentially where Sylvio was first inspired to create Obika. Not unlike those small artisan farms of Italy, Japanese cuisine is remarkably focused and dedicated to its food craft. This is easily recognisable tonight.
After a gorgeous slice of formaggi, as well as porcini pizza, we sample what was most probably one of the greatest beef lasagnes you’ve ever devoured. Hot, saucy and utterly tasty, with just the right amount of home cooked love. It’s worth mentioning the vino too! A gorgeous red, produced with 100% Aglianico grapes, Taurasi-Feudi Di San Gregorio, 2008, catapulted us into the Southern regions of Italy. A slice of chocolate almond cake served with vanilla ice cream (but what else) and a small glass of the divinely sweet desert wine, Vin Santo, served with Cantucci Biscuits, had us instantaneously devoted to the slow food movement, Sylvio is so passionate about.
With restaurants already thriving in London, Italy, Japan and one about to open in the iconic Flatiron building in NY, it seems the Mozzarella Bar is about to join the food revolution.