Review: Obika Mozzarella Bar, Rome, Italy

So the review in our travel guide (and most of the online listings) gushed about Obika Mozzarella Bar in Rome, and it wasn’t hard to seduce me. A restaurant entirely devoted to artisinal Mozzarella Di Bufala, each with the DOP seal of approval? Are you kidding me? I practically had to be restrained from clawing my way down there the minute we arrived in the city.

I need not have rushed.

And really, part of me knew. I liked the schtick of using great ingredients from all over Italy, but fresh mozzarella simply doesn’t travel like that. All three varieties that we tasted were ok but not earth-shatteringly good, without that amazing sweet milk flavor I was expecting. Actually the smoked one was most interesting. I’m sure they were terrific when they left the caseificio, but nothing special when they landed on our plates. And they were served on beds of the saddest, oldest, most pock-marked, thick ribbed spinach I’ve ever seen served in a restaurant. Popeye wouldn’t have touched it if Olive Oyl was tied to the railroad tracks.

Then came our entrees. The only two that were both vegetarian and could be done without nuts (because Snacky Pants is severely allergic) were eggplant based. She ordered an eggplant parmigiana and I got a mozarella bomba di risa with grilled eggplant. The bomba was excellent, but served with pesto containing nuts so SP couldn’t even try it.

The parmigiana was inedible because the eggplant was barely cooked, not even penetrable with a fork. Mind you, this isn’t some special Italian style. Eggplant isn’t served al dente. When SP informed the waitress, she said "oh, yes, that is because our eggplants are maybe a little hard", and walked away!

The Obika website claims they are a "a research project based on Italian high-quality products". My suggestion: don’t volunteer as a lab rat.

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Posted by Michael Natkin on Monday, September 24th, 2007 in Restaurants, Travel.

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