Italia, the (as you may have guessed) Italian eatery at DLF Promenade is a brand owned by Park hotel. It is a fresh looking bistro style restaurant which could turn into a vibrant place during busy days. The exposed white brick walls and large mirrors with a lot of natural light add to the freshness of the place. The bistro continues into the alfresco dining area which would be awesome in the winters or a rare cool summer evening in Delhi.
The restaurant is running a pasta festival from 22nd March – 31st March 2013 featuring eighteen different shapes and styles of pasta from different regions of Italy at a reasonable price of Rs. 299+taxes (Vegetarian) and Rs. 349+taxes (Non- Vegetarian), with the option of adding a bowl of minestrone or a scoop of vanilla ice cream for Rs. 99. Shipra and I are here to sample as many as we can of their 18 pastas which the restaurant claims are different from each other in their appearance, taste and style of cooking.
We are joined by Vikas Sehrawat, the Manager of the eatery. I ask him what is it that makes the food served here different from other Italian restaurants in the city. “Our food is home style and rustic, with dishes from every part of Italy” is his precise reply.
As we are soaking in all the freshness of the place, we get started with the minestrone vegetarian soup. This soup has an interesting history behind it. As per Wikipedia, some of the earliest origins of minestrone soup pre-date the expansion of the Latin tribes of Rome into what became the Roman Republic and later Roman Empire, when the local diet was “vegetarian by necessity”. The soup served to us is hearty with a lot of veggies and not heavy. This historic soup does not disappoint, and would make a great winter dish.
What follows next is some exciting looking lavash bread accompanied by pesto sauce, parmesan cheese, and crushed garlic in olive oil. Add to it the oregano, chilly flakes, the olive oil and balsalmic vinegar, and the stage is set for more happiness to arrive. This, in fact, is the most lavish setting I have seen in any Italian restaurant in NCR.
We now get ready to try out the pastas. Since Shipra is a vegetarian, we decide that she will focus on the veg options, while I will sink my teeth into the meatier repast.
Here is Shipra’s experience with the vegetarian pastas. “I am served the Ziti pasta which comes in a light red sauce. I suppose my little niece would love this pasta for the fun element of the Ziti tubular pasta and because she hates veggies in the pastas but I personally miss the fresh veggies in this dish. I move on to try the tri-color spinach cannelloni with milk foam which looks fantastic. But for the dry cannelloni pasta, it makes for an interesting dish. The green pasta with spinach and pine nuts is absolutely delicious. It’s a simpler dish but very perfectly done. The thin crust pesto sauce pizza with sun-dried tomatoes is truly the winner. A prime example of a home style dish, the wood fired pizza floored me completely. I am told that one could get thin crust customised pizzas as well at Italia which sounds fun.”
On the carnivorous side, the star dish is campania’s puttanesca with conchiglie & sea food served right from the pan on our table. This dish has perfectly al dente cooked conch shell pasta in a Southern Italian sauce consisting of tomatoes, olive oil, olives, capers, anchovy and garlic. The seafood present is fish, prawns and calamari, making it a real treat.
I am not so lucky with the other two pastas that I taste. The angel’s hair pasta with saffron cream & bacon has a sauce that is a bit too runny, and overcooked pasta. The quality of bacon though is very good. The rigatoni with breakfast sausages & vodka sauce has chicken sausage substituting the breakfast sausage which I am told is to cater to local tastes, and a weak sauce, thereby making the dish a bit weak. I am told that today is the chef’s weekly off, which may explain some of the technical glitches in cooking these two dishes.
The tiramisu served at the end is enjoyable though. The proportion or ricotta, saviordi and espresso are just right making it a good bite.
Overall Italia is an interesting dining place one would definitely go back to for a relaxed time with friends. A visit here for the pasta festival is recommended for the sheer variety and the price. The service is exemplary and the staff is both courteous and well informed.
Rating out of 5
Food: 3.0 | Ambience: 4.0 | Service: 4.0 | Overall: 3.5
Meal for two: Rs. 1000| Alcohol: Yes | Credit Card: Yes | Timings: 12 Noon to 12 Midnight
Address: 309 & 310, 2nd Floor, DLF Promenade Mall, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi | Telephone: 011-43111777
– By Aalok Wadhwa with inputs from Shipra Sharma