I was quite excited when I heard about Caffe Tonino opening in Connaught Place since I have always enjoyed the food at the Tonino restaurant on MG Road. But being a café, this one is different. The décor is casual and music peppy, and apart from the regular Italian offerings you’ll even find international fare including burgers and fish and chips. Breakfast is served from 8.30-11.30 am and includes seasonal fruits and fresh juices, eggs, pancakes and waffles. The breakfast panino with vegetarian and non-vegetarian options seems a highlight.
We are served the familiar olive tepanade and tomato salsa along with the breadbasket. Despite the low occupancy on this particular evening, the bread is not warm. The unexpected addition of green chillies to the salsa works well though. Since they are still waiting for their liquor license, the server recommends the cranberry and beetroot drink, Beet’s Beauty. A beauty indeed, with the fancy beetroot garnish, but I can’t taste the beetroot in the drink. Instead it simply tastes like canned cranberry juice.
We start with a portion of Calamari E Zucchini Fritti with a mayo-based sauce. The fitters would be better if they are crunchier and less greasy. The portion of this appetizer is quite substantial though. Next comes the Insalata Rucola Con Pere or a salad of rocket leaves with pears and cherry tomatoes with walnuts in honey balsamic dressing. Unfortunately, this proves that too much of a good thing isn’t necessarily good! Completely out of balance, the huge portion of rocket completely overpowers the sweetness of pears or cherry tomatoes. And the dressing is in excess as well. We realize that the grainy texture in the dressing comes from walnuts that have been pounded to a powder.
Then we go with the chef’s recommended Pizza Sandwich that is also highly commended by the manager. We opt for the non-vegetarian version with tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, Parma ham, rucola and basil oil. Somehow it doesn’t work as either pizza or sandwich and we can’t decide whether it tastes better with the top base or without. The only flavours that stand out are the cheese and tomato and Parma ham is literally lost amongst all the other ingredients. The Tortelloni di Ricotta Spinaci Pavarotti is a doughy tortelloni stuffed with spinach and very little ricotta. The creamy mushroom sauce and herb oil is quite tasty though, and the dish would do well with a bit more of the sauce.
After a few mixed experiences, we reach the delicious part of the meal. The Gamberi Marinati con Risotto di Pomodoro e Finocchio is a delicious risotto with prawn, tomato, fennel and cheese along with larger prawns marinaded and grilled to perfection. Then the woodfired Speziatta con Pollo pizza is a beautiful thin-crust topped with fresh perfectly balanced flavours of red chillies, spicy chicken, smoked scamorza cheese and mozzarella cheese.
The café has a decent offering of coffee, both hot and cold, that we didn’t try. The desserts though are nothing spectacular. While the Tiramisu has a good bitter-sweet flavour, the cream is a tad dense. The Chocolate Lasagna however is a misleading name for warm chocolate cake layered with white chocolate, topped with hot chocolate sauce, accompanied with a small scoop of vanilla icecream.
Considering that the restaurant has been open for just about a month, we are willing to discount the misses in a few dishes just as teething troubles. So if you’re in the CP area, you may want to head here for the pizza and the risotto or even try the breakfast.
Ratings (Out of 5)
Food: 3.0 | Drinks: 2.5 | Ambience: 3.0 | Service: 2.5 | Overall: 3.0
Meal for Two: Rs. 1500 (Without alcohol) | Credit Cards: Yes | Alcohol: Not yet (getting a liquor license soon) | Timings: 8.30 am – 11.30 pm
Address: Caffe Tonino, 1st Floor, PVR Plaza Building, H-Block,
Connaught Place, New Delhi | Telephone: 011 2332 0081
Disclaimer: This review was done on an invitation from the restaurant. Due judgement and care has been applied by the author to remain objective and unbiased in the review, but readers need to consider this review keeping this fact in mind.