Written by Sarah Dougherty
You could be in Paris, Milan or Sydney but this lively bistro sparkles on the streets of Berawa in Bali showcasing natural wines, cocktails and great food with a whole world of style.
There’s a subtle difference between good and great when it comes to restaurants, and Mosto in Berawa is a venue that sparkles with all the intangible things that create a warm, welcoming and deliciously different atmosphere.
If you have driven past Mosto on busy Jalan Pantai Berawa you can’t help but notice it. The energy is high, the black and white interiors glow, the outdoor tables are often full and the bar is a magnet for wine lovers.
With just 60 covers and a handful of bar stools that are in high demand, Mosto revolves around a passion for natural wines. The five partners are all Motel Mexicola group alumni and they are consummate professionals. This is a very big part of what makes Mosto one of the most talked-about bistros in Bali.
Behind the bar, the wine fridge is filled with beautiful bottles from small estates. They are all-natural wines (pet-nat in the lingo), normally small batches, and many you’ve probably never heard of. This is where the experience begins as the staff talk you through the varieties on hand. To accomplish a wine list like this in Bali is a feat as most venues draw from the same few suppliers.
This is the first venue for partners Isabella Rowell, Lorenzo Depeteris, Nicolas Lento, Federico Sirito, Denny Bakiev and Vanessa Di Maria – all permanent fixtures in Bali’s pioneering Mexicola Group (Da Maria, Luigi’s, Uni, Motel Mexicola). Sommelier Nicolas Lento (co-founder of Indonesia’s only natural wine importer/distributor, Toto Wines) has assembled a collection of more than 70 labels from small producers around the world. Organic and/or biodynamic wines fermented with native yeasts drive this list, including Lento’s first natural wine produced in Indonesia, the delicious sparkling Lazarus.
Our night begins at the bar with perfectly-made cocktails, designed by Denny – a small but delicious list of house cocktails and classics. We began with an excellent whisky sour for me from the classic list and a margarita-style cocktail from the house list – the vuja de, made with white tequila, almond, mangosteen and citrus. By the by, it’s vegan too. Behind the bar, the staff asks what style cocktail you enjoy and suggests one from their house list, it’s a level of service that feels very natural but isn’t often extended here.
Our table by the bar was cooled by the large windows that surround the venue. We had a lot of questions about the wine selection and here our education grew with a lively and passionate discussion about the growing trend towards creating wine the way it was done for generations. The process of making wine begins with the Mosto, or must (an aha moment here), the freshly crushed juice of the grapes together with their skin. Allowing the natural yeast to develop begins the fermentation process.
Winemakers often rely on commercial yeast for fermentation, it’s reliable and faster. Natural and biodynamic wines have incredible character and often aren’t as strong as commercial wines. They tend to be softer, complex and in some cases almost mysterious.
“We try to make it easy for people, some of whom are totally new to the world of natural wines. We divide the list into ‘easy-drinking’ wines (glou glou, as in gulp, gulp), ‘juicy and fresh’, ‘safe’, ‘clean’ and ‘wild’ for those who want to try something totally different,” explained Bella (Isabella) Rowell, one of the five partners. ”We don’t want to scare people with huge glasses and over-inflated prices, we want to make it easy and approachable” she jokes.
Wines by the glass range from Rp90K to Rp170K, while bottles range from Rp490K to Rp2.4 million for the highest-priced premium wine on the list. Taking a seat at the bar is a popular choice for many who simply want to enjoy a glass of wine, a cocktail, conversation and perhaps a casual bite.
The menu is classic bistro fare, crossing the border between France and Italy. Executive Chef Lorenzo is Italian and well versed in the classics. There are French bistro favourites, with starters like the fabulous chicken liver parfait topped with rosy sumac onions (Rp70K) to jambon de Paris with mustard butter and gherkins (Rp110K) and Italian favourites like bruschetta with whipped tuna, marinated peppers and anchovies ((Rp45K each) and cannellini beans with bottarga and kaffir lime (Rp90K).
Main courses also cross the divide from swordfish Milanese with arugula ( (200K) to beef tartare with umami yolk and sage tempura (Rp90K). The menus rotate regularly and include a couple of delicious hand-made pasta dishes that cry out for a perfect pairing. The staff are well-versed in the wine list and are happy to find the perfect drop for you.
Our first course was the chicken liver parfait and the ham, both were timeless versions of the classics, perfectly executed and beautifully simple. We tried the house bubbles, the cloudy, organic Lazarus to start. The sediment at the bottom of the bottle is the result of the second fermentation after bottling. Made without added sugar, it’s a masterful wine made here in Bali with Australian grapes. It’s now the house pour in some of Bali’s leading restaurants.
I’m a pinot noir drinker so Bella presented me with a beautiful red from Chili. It’s the kind of wine that gets you thinking about all the layers contained in this one small glass, at once light, with the natural taste of the grapes layered with sunshine and time. This wonderful wine is from vina koyle costa colchagua valley, and I could happily drink this all night.
My partner is a white wine drinker and Bella presented her with a riesling-style wine that is equally beautiful and sold by the glass.
The appetisers were more-ish and plentiful, so we went light on main courses and shared a recommended pasta dish; fresh rigatoni with smoked pork jowl gricia and pecorino romano, inspired by the classic Cacio e Pepe, paired with a jewel-like roasted beetroot salad with tahini and goat cheese. Both were as good, maybe better, than you will find in fine restaurants, full of energy and enthusiasm.
I love dessert and was holding out for creme caramel, one of just three desserts offered on the night we visited, but I was swayed by the offer of a peanut tart and once again the recommendation was spot on. A classic butter crust was filled with caramelised whole peanuts topped with maple syrup cream. It was the crowning glory on a night of amazing wine, enlightening conversations and great cooking.