“I serve traditional Italian food,” says Chef Tiziano Ranieri of Ristorante 56, “simple basic food that my mother taught me to cook.” And then this 57-year-old unassuming Neapolitan goes on to wow the palate with delightful flavours, textures and tastes. The high-ceiling, open spaces and the elegant simplicity of the restaurant complement the experience.
At the start of this gastronomic journey is the complimentary amuse bouche, an olive pate with crispy bread. The pate is designed to tease, and it does that with panache. The slightly bitter taste of olive combines well with the tang of sun dried tomato, with the garlic adding that extra dimension.
I ask the chef for his suggestions on what to eat. Justifiably proud of his menu, he suggests many dishes. I start with rigatoni alla siciliana con tonno olive, capperi e pomodoro (rigatoni pasta scented with tuna oil, anchovies, capers, black olives in tomato sauce, Rs 495). The rigatoni, a tube-shaped pasta somewhat larger than penne, is a perfectly cooked pasta with layers of flavours. The tomatoey, garlicky initial burst progresses effortlessly to the briny flavours of the sea, leaving a happily tickled palate. The petti di pollo grigliati al limone con funghi e purea di patate (grilled chicken breast, with lemon sauce, and sautéed mushroom, Rs 395) has juicy fillets delicately grilled to keep them moist, perfectly accompanied with asparagus, mushrooms and peppers, with a gentle citrus undertone.
Some of the chef’s other suggestions that I decide to save for another day are insalata caprese (slices of buffalo mozzarella and tomato in basil, flavored olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar dressing, Rs 295), garlic flavored grilled tiger prawns with ratatouille basket (Rs 725), saltimbocca chicken fillet and scamorza cheese from the grill, topped with parma ham and button mushrooms (Rs 465) and the assorted pizzas (Rs 355-455).
I ask the chef about his experiences in India. He is delighted to see a growing acceptance of traditional, authentic Italian food. “But it breaks my heart when I see people sipping water with pasta,” he says, “A good glass of wine lifts up the taste and the experience of so much.” And so, to promote wines in his restaurant he has managed to put together an impressive yet reasonably priced wine cellar.
It is now time for the dessert. The chef recommends a traditional favourite — cannoli alla siciliana con ricotta mascarpone e scaglie di cioccolato (pastry filled with ricotta, mascarpone, and chocolate bits, Rs 225). He asks me to abandon my fork and use my fingers to pick up the tube shaped pastry and bite into the yummy goodness. As the fresh ricotta laced with honey and speckled with chocolate bits oozes into the mouth, the feeling of bien-etre settles in.
Ristorante 56 is clearly among the finest Italian restaurants in the NCR. It is highly recommended, especially given its pricing. And, of course, la dolce vita.
Ratings out of 5
Food: 4.5, Ambiance: 4.5, Service: 4.5| Overall: 4.5
Meal for Two: Rs 1200 (without alcohol) | Alcohol: Yes | Credit Card: Yes
Address: 56 – Ristorante Italiano, Ground Floor, Vatika Atrium, DLF Golf Course Road, Sector-53, DLF City Phase 4, Gurgaon | Phone: 0124-4311298/ 4311299
This article was
first published in Friday Gurgaon