Tuscany, in the heart of Italy, is known the world over for its art, history, cuisines and beautiful landscapes. Cradled in the bosom of Tuscany lies a hilltop town, called San Gimignano or ‘the city of beautiful towers’. The Imperial’s Italian specialty restaurant of the same name takes inspiration from this lovely city where vineyards and olive groves flourish.
I am here to meet Willi Hauteur, the executive chef of The Imperial Hotel, Delhi over lunch. The interiors are plush, predominantly wooden with a distinct air of discreet exclusivity. I start by asking Chef Hauteur what the cuisine of the Tuscany region is all about. “The Tuscan cuisine is different from what is understood as Italian cuisine. It does not have heavy tomato based sauces. This cuisine is closer to the French cuisine, and is predominantly beef and lamb based.” he explains. Apparently many of the fine Italian ingredients like truffles, prosciutto, and parmesan cheese come from this region.
I start my lunch with the essential Tuscan delicacy – crema di parmigiano ‘olio di tartufo bianco’ or light parmesan cream soup flavored with white truffle oil (Rs 725). The soup is an experience strongly recommended. It is velvety and luxurious, with a beautiful smoky overtone of the white truffle oil.
For the pasta course I choose linguine alla aragosta (linguini tossed with tomato sauce and lobster chunks; Rs 1550). The linguine is perfectly cooked al dente, and the lobster chunks are generously provided. Somehow the sauce lacks depth, and because of that, this beautiful dish does not hit the spot. Next I decide to taste the unusual sounding salmone afumicato pizza (Rs 1250) with fresh ricotta, cream cheese, dill, topped with smoked salmon and served with lemon and organic capers. The pizza is really addictive. Devoid of any tomato based sauce, it is a medley of textures. The soft texture of the ricotta and the cream cheese contrasts well with the smoky saltiness of the salmon and dill. Add to it the thin yet flaky crust and the freshness of capers, there is no way I can stop at just one slice.
Too full for the dessert course, I decide to skip it and instead go for café royale (Rs 600) which is a double shot of espresso served with Hennessey V.S.O.P cognac. This warms the hearts cockles and strikes a perfect closing note.
A meal at San Gimignano is a treat for the senses. And like any great treat, it does not come cheap. But whenever you are in the mood for a slice of the Tuscan warmth, this is the place to be. It is likely to make you savour la dolche vita – the good life!
Ratings out of 5
Food: 4.0 | Ambiance: 4.0 | Service: 4.0 | Overall: 4.0
Meal for Two: Rs 5000 | Alcohol: Yes | Credit Card: Yes | Timing: 12:30 PM to 2:45 PM, 7 PM to 11:45 PM
Address: San Gimignano, The Imperial, Janpath, New Delhi | Phone: +91 11 41116608