Cover Mauro Colagreco (Photo: Matteo Carassale)

Mirazur chef Mauro Colagreco returns to Singapore with the opening of his first Italian restaurant, Fiamma, which showcases a deep respect for nature alongside his Italian Argentinian heritage

The garden is the first place Mauro Colagreco looks to for culinary inspiration. “I grew up with the flavours of the garden,” the Italian Argentinian chef‑owner of three‑Michelin‑starred restaurant Mirazur tells me over a Zoom call from France. He shares that as a kid, he spent many a holiday at the La Plata home of his grandparents, who had immigrated to Argentina from Italy and for whom seasonal ingredients from the Mediterranean were at the heart of their cooking. They grew in their garden a variety of herbs, vegetables and fruits, including tomatoes, that his nonna—Italian for “grandmother”—would use to whip up simple yet tasty dishes.

His family meals then included dishes such as eggplant salad, handmade tagliatelle with pesto sauce, and ravioli stuffed with charred spinach, ricotta, pecorino and his nonna’s secret ingredient of veal brain, which is considered a delicacy in Europe. During summertime, when tomatoes are abundant, she also taught the young Colagreco how to make a “fantastic tomato sauce” for their pasta dishes.

This deep affinity for nature’s bounty, which Colagreco developed early on in his nonna’s kitchen, is the inspiration behind Fiamma, his first Italian restaurant that opens this month at Capella Singapore. This is the renowned chef’s second partnership with the Capella Hotels & Resorts group, the first being the French-Italian establishment Côte by Mauro Colagreco at Capella Bangkok, which opened in 2020.

In case you missed it: Capella Singapore Debuts Renovated Villas And Hotel Rooms Designed By André Fu Studio

Mixed Heritage

While he knows of the plethora of Italian dining places already available in Singapore, Colagreco says that what sets Fiamma—Italian for “flame”—apart from them is the fact that the restaurant is anchored in his own unique cuisine, which combines his deep respect for nature with his Italian and Argentinian roots.

“In Argentina, we use a lot of fire in our cooking … we like to grill fish, meat and vegetables,” he shares. That is why Fiamma has its own custom‑built, wood‑fired pizza oven, where most of its offerings will be finished with a kiss of smoke. Famed for using seasonal produce that comes directly from his restaurants’ gardens, Colagreco plans to build an expansive one in the region in the near future. He posits: “My dream is to find one to two hectares of land in Asia where we can grow our own crops to use in our restaurants.”

In keeping with his culinary philosophy of only using what nature has to offer, Colagreco works closely with local and regional producers to curate an ever‑changing menu. So what are some of the signatures we can expect? He proudly shares that his grandmother’s classic ravioli, “cooked according to how she made it”, is part of the repertoire, as are classic family recipes that he modernised with his own touch—think a “delicious eggplant dish that is slow‑cooked in the oven and topped with pecorino espuma; seasonal fish done crudo style (raw and bathed in olive oil, citrus juice or vinaigrette); and a selection of meat dishes cooked over fire”.

Read more: Wood-Fire Cooking: Is it a Passing Trend or Here to Stay?

For even more variety, he has included quintessential eats from different regions of Italy: pizza tartufo done Napoli style (with a thick and chewy crust, and a thin centre), and “Catch of the Day” grilled on the fire and finished in an oven to reference the style of the Liguria region. These plates are garnished with herbs such as basil, rosemary and thyme, all freshly picked from Capella Singapore’s existing herb garden.

In order to bring these dishes to life, Colagreco has installed chef de cuisine Antonio Corsaro at the helm. The Italian native—who sharpened his knife at notable establishments such as French restaurant Allard in Paris, Mediterranean restaurant BBR by Alain Ducasse in Singapore and Italian restaurant La Scala in Shanghai—also trained with Colagreco at Mirazur to understand the chef‑owner’s exacting vision for Fiamma.

Modern Setting

This vision naturally extends to Fiamma’s interior decor. Colagreco envisioned a convivial and down‑to‑earth space where families and friends could gather over hearty food at the table. He and his team worked with renowned interior designer André Fu (who also designed Capella Singapore’s Chinese restaurant, Cassia) to imagine a place that encapsulates the vibrant energy and atmosphere of a buzzy Italian kitchen—but in a tropical setting.

“André understood what I was looking for: to merge Italian architecture with a modern and open design,” Colagreco lets on, and the result is a beautiful crescent‑shaped 138‑seat venue dressed in a muted palette of earthy browns, mineral blues, washed oak and chiselled stone, and decked with an eclectic mix of furniture and fittings. There are even different pockets of space ideal for any occasion: an al fresco area surrounded by potted plants, a den filled with Old World and New World gems, a main dining room with a view of the glassed‑off kitchen, and a private room that seats 16.

Ready to Serve

This is not Colagreco’s first venture in Singapore. In February last year, he opened burger joint Carne with Il Lido Group, which unfortunately closed the same year. He also staged a Mirazur pop‑up at Mandala Club in 2021, which was well received in spite of the ongoing Covid‑19 pandemic. This time around, he is confident that Fiamma will have a permanent spot in the F&B scene here, given its strong dining concept—one he has never done before.

In preparation for Fiamma’s grand opening, the key team members from Mirazur travelled to Singapore to train the local staff. The Mirazur staff members also make up the “task force” that will work with the local Fiamma team in the first month of operations to ensure that everything runs smoothly. Colagreco plans to visit three to four times a year—his first trip takes place in July—to witness first-hand how his first Italian concept has come to fruition. While he is excited to visit the island again and meet with more local producers, he is even more delighted to open his “Italian home” and invite guests to his dining table. “Italy,” he says, “is a part of my life, history and roots. That’s why I love its food.”

© 2022 Tatler Asia Limited. All rights reserved.