One of the best things that happen to me as a result of Johor Kaki blog is the privilege to get to know many inspiring people. I am glad to know Mogan and his wife Seleste. Mogan hails from Sungai Petani, Kedah Malaysia while Seleste is from Kulai, Johor.
Mogan is on my right and Danny, Sous Chef at Locali is on his right (nearest the oven).
Mogan met Celeste working in Four Seasons Hotel, Singapore. They were both later posted to Four Seasons in New York City. After a few years' working, Mogan and Celeste invested all their life savings to attend culinary school in New York City. Mogan was trained in French cuisine and Celeste, a pastry chef. After graduation, Mogan worked for four years in renowned 3 Michelin Star Jean Georges in NYC.
Today at 33 years, Mogan who left Sungai Petani in Kedah as a teen is the Executive Chef of two restaurants in Connecticut, namely Locali Pizza Bar and Village Social family restaurant.
Last night, we met up in Locali Pizza Bar & Kitchen.
Inside Locali, the space was compact. The decor and furnishings were simple and contemporary but it felt warm, homely yet classy.
Locali stocks a small selection of wines from around the world, including Italy (of course).
The centrepiece of Locali Pizza Bar & Kitchen is this dome shaped oven in the open kitchen. This oven made-to-order on premise by a renowned Italian master oven maker is capable of 1000º F (550º C).
Locali's oven is wood fired using cherry and oak logs which were chosen for the aroma they impart onto the pizzas.
It was a busy Saturday evening and Executive Chef Mogan, Sous Chef Danny and staff were churning out pizzas as a well oiled team.
I noticed this small figurine in the kitchen, and a staff told me that this was "La Nonna", the owner's grandmother - the grand lady who inspired the dishes in Locali.
We soon settled down for dinner starting with small plates.
The first dish was the Crispy Calamari.
Fresh squid cut into small broad bands, battered and deep fried. Crispy outside while the squid inside was still slightly tender. The crispy calamari tasted gently savoury with a subtle spice flavour and zing.
Next came the Shaved Local Cauliflower.
Nice nutty, crunchy nibbles with a slight tang to whet our appetites for the our main course.
The traditional meaty beef meatball sat on a bed of toasted polenta and whipped cheese curd.
And, now comes Locali's signature Naples style pizzas.
The "Snake Oil" pizza.
The thin, well browned crust with "leopard spots" was paved with premium San Marzano plum tomatoes, Capicola pork cold cuts, Fior di Latte cheese, Reggino peppers, garlic, honey and garnished with a sprinkle of crunchy scallions.
The base of the pizza crust had nice browning and charred freckles.
The pizza was a blend of layered savouriness and slight natural sweetness. This is a traditional Naples style of pizza which flavours are more assertive than milder tasting New York City style pizzas.
The thin crust made with sour dough was slightly dry, soft and crispy around the edges.
I also tried the Wild New England Pizza.
The crust was topped with chopped wild mushrooms, Taleggio cheese, Reggiano cheese, Fior di Latte cheese, wild porcini mushroom oil, and sprinkled with porcini dust.
I like this pizza with layers of texture of crispy and tender chewy crust with soft melted cheese and spongy mushrooms. I also enjoyed the layers of savouriness from the blend of cheeses and mushrooms with a touch of slight sweetness.
Look at that unique "leopard spot" crust.
I enjoyed the food and ambiance at Locali, as well as the energy and cheerfulness of the youthful team.
May I take this opportunity to wish Mogan and Celeste the best, and thank you for following Johor Kaki blog.
Restaurant name: Locali Pizza Bar & Kitchen
Address: 32 Forest Street New Canaan, Connecticut, CT USA
Hours: 12:00pm to 9:00pm
Date visited: 20 Dec 2014
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