Expensive Italian

Ottimo - The Fire of Italy

Monday, January 25, 2016Me! In words

Ottimo - the superlative Italian Ristorante at the ITC Gardenia is having a unique promotion on right now till the end of the month. Called "The Fire of Italy", the inimitable Chef Vittorio Greco brings to our tables the Diavoletti, deep red chilli peppers that add a whole melange of flavors to the food. Predominantly used in Southern Italy, the dishes showcased during this promotion are from the Southern Region. The menu may seem small, but trust me, each dish is an ode to Italy on its own, especially when each of them has that unique twist from Chef Vittorio. 

We were invited to sample this menu and while it was a pity we did not have Chef Vittorio around to guide us through it, we were in the very very capable hands of Chef Sasha. Here's a look at what you can expect.

Naturally, a bread basket comes to the table as did this lovely Bruschetta. We began the evening with a lovely Gruner Veltliner from the Gobelsburg Winery in Austria - a perfect way to whet the appetite.

We began with a Squid and Chorizo in a bowl of salad greens. There is no beating a good chorizo and these were a nice toasty crisp. It is the squid that stands out amazingly well here - each of the little curls is coated with a Chorizo paste, which has some of that interesting chilli mixed in as well. The saltiness of the chorizo, coupled with the smooth squid that had a nice bite, brought this dish together amazingly well. 

This beauty was for the vegetarians but of course I dug in as well - The Salt Cooked Onion with Parmesan Chilli and Star Anise. The onion here is placed inside a mound of salt and baked. Following which the center is scooped out, blended with parmesan cheese, chilli and star anise and stuffed back int the onion. A crispy and then chewy parmesan biscuit on the side with some more cheese and star anise dust.  

At this point we were also introduced to a lovely South African wine - Kumala, a Shiraz from the Western Cape. A lovely ruby red, not too dry on the palate and a good pairing with the meal. 

We moved on to the Lobster and Chilli Double Stuffed Ravioli - Honestly, need I say more! 

This pasta dish was one that truly packed in the novelty factor and a double whammy of taste. Agnolotti that had two stuffings, separated by a little twist in the center! While one side was stuffed with liquid smoked ricotto, the other had morels in a pepper aglio-olio sauce. Topped off with basil, garlic and tomato, this is one you want to go slow on, especially the smoked ricotto part. 

A very colorful main course for the vegetarians - This Vegetable Risotto with Fontina, chilli and a generous dusting of Berry Powders. The risotto retained its bite and was placed on a bed of vegetable puree - all other blanched veggies were placed around it. The dried strawberries made for an interesting flavor profile as did the generous dusting of the powder. A wholesome a filling dish.

And then, the dish that reiterated yet again why we love Ottimo so much - Slow cooked pork belly with pistachio and black pepper. In the little cup is some jus with a hint of coffee. The Pork Belly is encrusted with thin slivers of pistachio and shaped into perfectly square chunks. Personally, not one for coffee, this jus has a bitter touch to it that actually balances the crunchy and fatty textures and tastes you get from the pork. The little medallions of blanched vegetables always balancing the plate out well.

And for dessert - Drum Rolls and Trumpets Blazing, we welcome Ottimo's classic - The Torte Caprese Version 2.0. A much more delicate chocolate orb, dusted with edible gold, melts away when molten chocolate is poured over it, giving way to a blend of white and dark chocolate on the inside. Heaven is a place on earth you say? Well, Heaven is the Torte Caprese 2.0!!

This promotion is on at Ottimo at the ITC Gardenia. A meal for two is approximately Rs 4000

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