>$60

Pizzeria Mozza, MBS: Sexual Harasser’s Restaurant Ought to be Shut Down. He Said to his Waitress, “It’s not fair I have this view all to myself when you bend over. For dessert, would you take off your blouse for the others?”

If I had known Pizzeria Mozza at Marina Bay Sands is opened by a sexual harasser, celebrity chef Mario Batali, I would have never gone there. But we went before the news broke. First, I want to talk about his food, his delicious food, and then I want to urge everyone NOT to go there.

On the day we were there, the restaurant was packed to the gunwales; if you don’t have a reservation, it is unlikely you will get a seat. Families seemed to be in the majority. Although it was busy, the servers were attentive and great.

The restaurant is decorated casually, lots of wood, but the passersby at the corridor could easily look in, something that I don’t like. I hate the idea of people seeing what I eat.

But the casual setting of the restaurant belies the high prices. The spinach salad ($19) consists of spinach, ricotta, lemon, pine nuts, pomegranate & anchovies. I mean, TWO anchovies. Can’t they spare more? Tastewise, however, it is crunchy and zesty, a good way to start the meal.

If you have a starter like we did, a pizza could be shared comfortably between two adult males; we were stuffed. The pizzas are priced from $20 to $38 with so many interesting choices. We were tempted by the Bianca with truffle cheese ($34), the mushroom Funghi pizza ($30), Napolitana ($27), and fresh goat cheese and leek ($30) but we eventually settled with the waiter’s recommendation, burrata and slow roasted tomato ($30) because I’m a huge fan of burrata.

The burrata, made by Di Stefanos at California, is imported from L.A. It is fantastic, so milky, and its richness is undercut by the perfect tomatoes that fill the heart with lazy sunshine. The crust: Thick and fluffy and chewy and orgasmic. It’s a recipe from Nancy Silverton, part owner of the restaurant, who is famed for her artisanal sourdoughs. They ferment the wet dough, made from high-protein King Arther flour, with yeast from California. So good. Really fantastic pizza.

Include an elderflower beer ($18) and lemon tea ($6), we paid $80 in total for two persons.

***

Now let me tell you why we should STOP patronising Pizzeria Mozza: Mario Batali is a sexual harasser. He admited it himself, “Although the identities of most of the individuals mentioned in these stories have not been revealed to me, much of the [sexual harassment] behavior described does, in fact, match up with ways I have acted.”

He grabbed his staff’s breasts. He blocked their way so that they had to straddle him to get across. We are not talking about a common pervert here; Celebrity Chef Batali has immense clout and could destroy these women’s careers. He has made the workplace unsafe and unprofessional for women.

Besides, it is not a singular case; he has done it over and over again such that other celebrity chefs who have not worked with him have heard the rumours. Batali co-owns restaurants in New York City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Boston, Singapore, Westport, Connecticut and New Haven, Connecticut. Imagine the number of women he has abused over the years in his myraid restaurants.

Some people, like Matt Damon, suggest that if a person is truly apologetic, we should give him the chance. Well, fuck you Matt Damon. How about I slap your mother and write a press release about how contrite I am? An apology is cheap. An apology is worthless when a human being has suffered so much. We are not only talking about the physical trauma HUMAN BEINGS undergo, they also suffer psychologically. They worry about their livelihoods and at the same time they endure the mental anguish and humiliation of their abuse.

Furthermore, if any powerful man is truly sorry, they should have come out and apologise BEFORE their cases are known. Maybe then it is nominally acceptable to see how this man behaves next. Words mean nothing; actions count for all.

But the thing is Batali isn’t even apologetic! Here’s his “apology”:

He ended his lame-ass apology with “ps. in case you’re searching for a holiday-inspired breakfast, these Pizza Dough Cinnamon Rolls are a fan favorite.” By connecting a recipe with his apology, he is trivialising and depreciating the pain he has put his victims through. To him, his victims don’t even deserve a post dedicated to them. Their agony is as insignificant as finding a recipe for cinnamon rolls.

Because of the allegations, Batali said, “I am going to step away from day-to-day operations of my businesses.” Peeps, read it carefully. He won’t be involved in the daily running of the business but he will still receive dividends, royalties, and whatnots. He will continue to earn your money as long as you patronise his restaurants, buy his cookbooks, watch his cooking shows. This scum who has no respect for the dignity of women, of mothers, daughters, lovers, and sisters.

And Marina Bay Sands is COMPLICIT in the denigration of women. The news of Batali’s abominable behaviour only broke about a week ago and MBS has already changed the website from “Pizzeria Mozza by Mario Batali” to “Pizzeria Mozza by Nancy Silverton.”

Instead of closing the restaurant permanently, MBS tries to cover up Batali’s involvement. Clearly, MBS knows what’s at stake here: trying to save a very popular restaurant so that it can continue to reap profits. And this money goes into Batali’s pockets too. For monetary gains, MBS decides to turn a blind eye on the degradation of women and continues to fund a sexual predator.

MBS, do the right thing. SHUT IT DOWN. No matter how delicious his pizzas are, we don’t want them. There are many brilliant chefs around, we won’t and don’t need to suffer the abasement of human dignity for that little bit of sparkle in our lives. With integrity, we can burn brightly on our own, we can dance on our own.


Pizzeria Mozza
Marina Bay Sands, 2 Bayfront Ave, B1-42-46, Singapore 248780
tel: +65 6688 8522
12pm-11pm

You should probably eat your pizzas elsewhere:
Pizza Express, Scotts Square: Fantastic Feasts and Where to Find Them
Ristorante Luka, Tanjong Pagar: Excellent Italian Food by Japanese Chef Takashi Okuno
Pizza Fabbrica, Kampong Glam: One of the Best Restaurants This Year
Alt Pizza, Suntec: One of the Best Pizzas in Singapore (Good Draught Craft Beers too!)


Written by A. Nathanael Ho.

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11 replies »

  1. In doing some research on the subject referenced in the latter half of this… piece, my Google News, prioritized by locality, listed hits from Singapore including this website. Admittedly, I have not visited the blog is several years but was curious about the community reaction from various points of view. And so, I read.

    Obviously, this is a topic about which you are quite passionate. I can tell because you used about 2-3 times as many words as you usually do to review restaurants. Or perhaps it could of been a case of “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” But, probably not.

    Unfortunately, much like your restaurant reviews, this impassioned boycott proposal seems superficial and self-aggrandizing.

    Firstly, let me be clear that I am not defending Mario Batali or his actions. We can 100% agree that there is no level of acceptance when it comes to sexual assault and/or harassment. Nor am I taking a position on Matt Damon’s comments in the article that you have linked.
    But your reference to Damon’s quote is the exact opposite of his position. Right or wrong, I think what Damon is trying to convey is that the punishment should fit the crime and not all crimes are of the same nature.

    This segues nicely into your proposed ‘punishment’ for Batali. Again, agreed the letter/recipe, etc. was total sh*t. But, let’s just say you had slapped Damon’s mom while she was working for you. Should Mrs. Damon lose her job because you slapped her? Should everyone in the company lose their jobs because you gave ol’ Mrs. Damon whatever you though she had coming to her?
    Joe Bastianich, who co-owns the restaurant group with Batali, issued a statement to Eater New York, saying “Right now, I’m just focused on making sure our more than 1,000 employees continue to have a safe and productive work environment.”

    Should he have been doing that already? Sure. Does everyone need to lose their jobs or favorite restaurant because he hadn’t? No. Will Mario Batali’s wallet any feel lighter because you managed to get Mozza @ MBS shut down? Not even an ounce.

    But Nancy Silverton’s wallet will surely feel the pinch. After Nancy sold her famed LaBrea Bakery she invested the $5mil from the sale to secure her future and her that of her children. A few years later, her financial adviser and investment broker, Bernard Madoff was jailed for fraud. This left Nancy with exactly nothing. No property, no trust funds for her kids, etc. Madoff took it all.
    So should she or any other person in her company who makes their primary income from the restaurants be made to suffer because you slapped Damon’s mother?
    In keeping with the analogy, if everyone boycotts your blog because you slapped Mrs. Damon, at least you still have your day job. But anyone making their primary living from the blog or, fantastically, if their restaurant’s business depended on the traffic driven to it via this blog, they also would be feeling the loss.

    Unsurprisingly, you may not be aware about much of the restaurant business; in particular, the way money is made. Of your $80 bill at Mozza, more of that $80 ends up in other people’s pockets besides Mario’s. And while he does make plenty of money from restaurants, he makes the highest percentage of profit from the things that are his own brand, such as equipment and books and television. When you tell people to stop going to a restaurant, you hurt people. You affect people’s livelihoods at no expense to your own. You should not do that.

    So Marina Bay Sands, has done probably the best is can at the moment to immediately stop promoting the Batali brand-name. Rather than a dramatic upheaval to everyday people’s lives they have taken steps to not add credence to the name of the perpetrator, a man whose career is built on his name. And in place of his name they are now promoting… a woman’s!

    Marina Bay Sands is COMPLICIT in the denigration of women. … MBS has already changed the website from “Pizzeria Mozza by Mario Batali” to “Pizzeria Mozza by Nancy Silverton.”

    To be honest, if you think about it you may understand why this line of your’s gave me a giggle. I mean, how is that denigration? What are you actually outraged over? I am surprised that you even care. As person who takes pains to detail the gender AND ethnicity of the people encounters in his reviews of restaurants (ie “angmoh lady chef”, “Thai lady (Manager? Boss?)”, “Filipino waitress”, “patrons … are Whites”) I don’t understand where your demand to respect your fellow woman/man even comes from. Your need to categorize human beings for yourself and your audience is not from a place of deep understanding or respect. So I do wonder why the outrage here, from you.

    Perhaps the soap-box speech will bring a few more clicks to your website, as it did work on me… but pinning it to the bottom a review belies its sincerity at the very least. It’s not unlike sending an apology note with a recipe attached.

    Like

    • We agree on: Batali is completely at fault.

      By eating at his restaurants, we are putting money into his pocket. Of course not 100% of the money goes to him. But no matter what he still gets some money. In good conscience, I don’t think anyone will give money to a sexual predator.

      Regarding the staff, you present a false dichotomy fallacy. There are many options that can work:
      -Batali can sell away his shares to Joe. But since Batali is selfish NOT to do it option, we cannot continue giving him money.
      -MBS has many restaurants. If they close pizzeria, they can put the staff in different restaurants while they start a new restaurant in pizzeria’s place. When the new restaurant is up, bring the staff back.
      -an advance notice to staff so they can find jobs elsewhere
      -it seems like a paradox that f&b industry is complaining that there is a lack of trained workers. But now when skilled staff present themselves, it’s like “what will happen to them?” They are skilled, they can find work.

      Here, let me give you an analogy. In Indonesia, a very small part of the pirated dvd sales is channeled into funding terrorists. Will you buy the dvd? If you don’t buy, what about the people who are selling them? Their incomes depend on it. Their families depend on the income.

      This analogy shows exactly what you’re saying: “we should continue supporting the pizzeria even though a very small portion of profits goes to a sexual predator.” If your answer is yes you’ll buy the dvds, then continue going to the restaurant. At least your standards of morality is constant. But if you won’t buy the dvds and will go to the restaurant, then you need to reflect on why you support one atrocity and not the other.

      Regarding the changing for names, it’s complicated. I hope you can follow. it’s a complete cover up. Women came forward to change things, make it better for other women. Yet the name change and the complete erasure of Batali on the website make us think that he’s booted, that he longer benefits from the restaurant, that he is punished for his behaviour. But that is not true. He still benefits, he has just moved behind the screen, and the brave women’s efforts are useless. The cover up then is a power move to counter the brave women who stood up against Batali. And furthermore, to use a woman’s name in the restaurant??? That’s disingenuous.

      Ps: not to distract from the main argument, I identify people on my site usually because if the owners read it, they can allot praise or blame to the staff. In case of identifying clientele, I am trying to give a feel/atmosphere of the restaurant. For example it’s always comforting to go to a Japanese restaurant and be surrounded by Japanese guests. By pointing out that I do this and to impugn and project such notions on me, I think it shows more on you than me.

      Ps: also I would appreciate if you stay on the topic and not throw in insults. The next time you do that, I won’t reply so cordially. Thanks.

      Like

    • I want to say one more thing regarding this: “Joe Bastianich, who co-owns the restaurant group with Batali, issued a statement to Eater New York, saying “Right now, I’m just focused on making sure our more than 1,000 employees continue to have a safe and productive work environment.”

      Joe (and Nancy) have known for YEARS about Batali’s atrocious behaviour. Everybody in the nyc food scene knows. Batali doesn’t hide it. And now, only when the scandal breaks, Joe is ensuring safety for his employees?! Why didn’t he do it much much earlier? Joe may not have sexually harassed his employees but he is not innocent.

      Like

  2. Their exorbitant prices alone constitute monetary harassment. That alone is enough to avoid encouraging excessive intentions when MBS/Batali’s grabbing hands and pockets are full.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m with you on avoiding the restaurant while the fat ginge still has a vested interest in it. Walmart and Target are both dropping Batali products, I hope Chef Dan also writes condescending letters to them so that the jobs of factory workers and middle men can be saved too!

    I couldn’t care less about the Nancy angle, it’s irrelevant and sounds to me like she simply doesn’t do enough due diligence on who she invests her money with.

    Consumers need to vote much more responsibly with their dollar, it’s one of the few ways that can really drive change.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agreed. I stop buying products from companies that are sexist, racist, homophobic, exploitative, or do harmful things to environment. It’s only socially responsible for us consumers.

      As for Nancy, she probably already has millions since she has partnership in some restaurants. I mean, if she can invest 5 million, she has a safety net. If she doesn’t, she has a skill for baking, she’s well known and well connected. There is nothing to worry about her. She can start from scratch and open a small bakery. And that’s not a bad scenario at all.

      Like

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