With excessive work load and exhaustive travels, I had taken a sabbatical from food reviews and events for a while. However when I got this very interesting invite from JW Marriott inviting us to witness the battle of their Italian chefs, I couldn’t say no.
The event was held at Mezzo Mezzo, the lovely Italian restaurant in JW Marriott, Juhu, which has been a reference point for fine Italian dining over the years and Chef Matteo, who has been helming the affair for a while, has been the culinary genius behind the show.
This night, however, the scene was a tad bit different; instead of one brilliant chef, we were to be taken care by three brilliant chefs from different JW Marriotts in India. Each of them had been assigned two courses, and the menu looked quite appealing.
In the Antipasti selection, we were served an Insalata (Italian for Salad) made by Chef Marquane that consisted of slivers of a beautifully smoked duck breast on a bed of bitter greens and asparagus. The surprise factor in this salad was the (Not-so-Italian) inclusion of Mangoes which raised the dish to an entirely new level. This was beautifully paired with a Bianco from Villa Antinori of Tuscany which was fruity, refreshing and a perfect accompaniment for this delicate salad.
The pea soup by Chef Matteo that followed was quite rustic and wholesome, however I thought it could have used an extra dash of olive oil and a pinch of pepper to round off the flavours. I wasn’t too impressed with its pairing with the Pinot Grillo either.
The second dish from Chef Matteo, however, proved once again why he is considered as one of the finest Italian chefs in Mumbai. The soft and luscious burrata cheese ravioli which was perfectly al dente and was served with a Celery emulsion and a tangy tomato sauce. The dish again showed complete harmony between the tart tomato sauce, the pasta and the umami flavours of the celery emulsion. To me this was a lovely dish. The pairing with the low tannin Tuscany–Santa Cristina also worked well.
The usually unsung Palate cleanser was another unusual hero of the night. The lemon sorbet was the brainchild of Chef Christian and his masterstroke was the inclusion of the aromatic leaves of fresh thyme in the tart sorbet. Everyone on the table puckered up with each lick and relished the sorbet to its core.
The mains or Secondo, were once again helmed by Chef Christian, where he served us a beautifully cooked juicy and flaky Chilean Sea bass with some snow peas, carrots and saffron aioli. Though the fish was delicately and perfectly cooked, I had my inhibitions towards the accompanying crab cake which looked dense. However as I bit into it, I was overwhelmed with the lemony goodness which flowed through the bite. Both the fish and the crab cake stood out individually but somehow as a complete dish it failed to impress me much. The Merlot that was served with it was fabulous and paired quite well.
Finally for desserts we were served the ever-so-classic Tiramisu, this time prepared by Chef Matteo who proceeded to pour a shot of hot espresso on top of the sponge. The resultant aroma was fabulous and as we dug into the tiramisu, the bitterness of the coffee and the sweetness of the cake got together to take us on a flight of ecstasy. If decadence had a new name, this was it.
Each of these dishes were colour coded and at the end of the meal we were asked to pull out colours of two of our favourite dishes. My vote went for the Ravioli and Dessert of course, the table however was split between the salad and the main as well. The restaurant was also doing this exercise with other patrons as well and as I peeped into the score, I realized that Chef Matteo was ahead by a far margin.
I really enjoyed this gourmet war between the chefs and applaud the hotel for organizing this interesting concept. Each dish was a winner in its own right, but some stood out a bit better than the other. I hope in our day to day affairs we can also settle our scores in the same way..,,,through food. The world would be a much happier place if this actually came to happen. Here is to JW Marriott for their Italian Cook-off and to the dream of settling all issues through food….Amen and Cheers!!
Meal for Two without Alcohol: Rs.3000 Approximately plus taxes| Alcohol: Yes | Credit Card: Yes|
Timing: 7 pm to 12 am
Address: JW Mariott, Juhu Tara Road, Juhu, Mumbai.
Tel: 022 6693 3000
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.