Italian On Invitation

Taste of Lombardy - Italia at The Park

Friday, January 20, 2017ruthdsouzap

This article first appeared in Indulge

Every month Italia, the popular Italian restaurant of The Park Hotel focuses creations on its menu from specific regions of Italy. Beginning on the 18th of January the spotlight is on Lombardy and Sr. Sous Chef Baseer Ahmed has a menu that deftly covers this northern region of Italy.

Lombardy cuisine is interesting in the fact that it draws its roots from multiple inspirations. The use of butter and cream are lavish as is the heavy use of poultry. Unlike the rest of Italy, polenta and rice feature predominantly in the Lombard region on tables, when compared to pasta. Chef Baseer explains that he wants to bring out food that is traditionally cooked in the homes of locals in Lombardy and this menu does it full justice.

 The table setting at Italia

The fresh bread and herbed butter as we waited!


Go all the way when you stop by for a meal here. Start your meal with the classic Bruschetta taken up a notch with the addition of bocconcini, a drizzle of balsamic and a garnish of fresh basil. This sets the tone for the rest of the meal.

You next order can be for the Insalata di pollo alla griglia (above)  – sliced, seasoned and grilled chicken breast tossed up with salad leaves, sun-dried tomatoes, apples, pears and a generous drizzle of balsamic and olive oil. A refreshing salad, which coupled with a heavy soup like the Zuppa alla pavese (below) will make a meal in itself. This soup is a rich chicken broth, given an added grainy texture with a touch of pumpkin. It is served up with a toasted ringed crust-less bread and a double sided fried egg. Though the egg seems a bit out of place on the soup, the flavour and texture of the soup are what you will like about it. 

 Zuppa alla Pavese

The menu pays equal attention to vegetarian options which are often underrated in Italian cuisine but which I personally love. The Insalata di pere e parmigiano with salad greens, pears, parmesan and balsamic is good choice as will be the classic Milanese Minestrone soup.

Bringing the focus to the rice is the Risotto ai funghi porcini – a risotto that is creamy and flavourful thanks to the generous hand with the butter, cream and of course porcini mushrooms. The freshly hand torn arugula leaves that are placed on the risotto add that nice bite and a layered of texture to risotto which was done a little more than it should have been and was not al dente. But with the feedback offered, I am sure that is going to be taken care of. There is also a dish that features veal shanks over saffron risotto, which also brings in Lombardy’s love for the spice.

 Risotto ai Funghi Porcini

For those who love their fish, the Salmon al forno con finocchio e zucchini – oven roasted salmon fillet with fennel and zucchini is a nice choice. Baked and then finished on the pan, it is served in its jus along with baked zucchini and potatoes. The fish needed to have spent a little time more on the pan on the skin side than the meat side and this led to a slightly dry bit to the fish. Nevertheless, with the accompaniments, it does make a hearty dish.

Salmon al forno con finocchio e zucchini

Chef Baseer really loves his porcini mushrooms because you can see it make an appearance again in the Fettuccine al ragu e porcini – a pasta dish with a luscious tomato, basil minced meat sauce that screams Italian. The dish is a filling hearty one, with the tomato sauce being robust and just right on the tartness for me.

 Fettuccine al ragu e porcini

The Pollo ai porcini highlights the Lombardy region and its love for poultry brilliantly with these rolled chicken breasts stuffed, very interestingly with provolone cheese and porcini mushroom and served alongside polenta bread slices. The chicken is done well, with none of the fibrous character that chicken breast tends to take on and the stringy provolone makes it a hot, tasty morsel to eat. The polenta provides that great offset both in terms of flavour as well as beefing up your meal.

The menu also boasts of linguine and gnocchi offerings as well as options in seafood and red meat. Pizzas are another highlight of the menu – remember I told you to make plans to go all the way?

 Pollo ai porcini

Wrap up your meal with the classic Tiramisu served in a uniquely styled presentation. And for those who are not coffee lovers like me, the Fragolini al Balsamico – a crostini topped with mascarpone cheese, cinnamon, balsamic vinegar and a sliced strawberry is the perfect indulgence.


Fragolini al Balsamico

A meal for two is in the Rs 3000++ category. For a little more, you can throw in a good wine as well. Our meal for the evening was paired with a Zonin Chianti which surprisingly for a red went very well with all the dishes that were served up. The festival is on for the next month.

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