So the weekend before last, we were invited to Italia - this lovely Italian restaurant at DLF Promenade Mall. Because of its location, I've eaten here more than a dozen times - it's so convenient especially because the movie theatre in the mall is my favourite. Also until about a couple of months ago, my favourite supermarket was located there.
Most of the times our order is standard – the melon and prosciutto salad and a pizza. Because really, their pizzas are the best. Thin crust – crisp and oozing with cheese – just perfect. And they let us go half and half – salami for the husband, plain cheese for me.
Except for the one time I’ve eaten there, where the food has been well meh, I haven’t really ever had a bad experience there. When I asked around, I was told that the regular chef hadn’t come in.
Anyhoo, this time we – Sangeeta, Sushmita, Sid, Rekha, Tanya, Deeba and me – were called for the menu tasting of the Olives Galore promotion which began on August 24. Apart from being able to pop a variety of olives, the chef – Somopriya Basu- brought out a course by course menu of some of the yummiest olive-based stuff.
It all started with a flatbread-focaccia - paper thin bits of bread that had been baked in the brick-oven – which were served with the most amazing garlic puree and some pesto. Totally addictive and totally amazing.
Next was the Smoked Salmon and mascarpone involtini. Nothing to be scared of – just some salmon rolled with olive-flavoured. Quite nice, except I don’t really have a palate for salmon, so my friend N, who’d come with us, was passed the portion. I’d eaten the aubergine version of the same, the last time I’d gone, and was really wistful I didn’t ask for the vegetarian portion.
This was followed by an appetizer platter which consisted of a Milan-style chicken with colossal olives, Shitake, button mushroom and cepes skewers and a Arabian Sea Calamari, Bay of Bengal Shrimp, sole and Taggiasche Olive Panzanella. The chicken was almost like a schnitzel (and I love schnitzels) and the salad with the shrimps and calamari was really lovely
Then came the total damper of the evening – the Spaghetti with Trapanese pesto. Nothing wrong with the spaghetti – it was al dente and all – but the pesto seemed to have no bite. It was bland and under-seasoned. The parmesan crisp (by the time it got to us, was soft- so really a parmesan soft) was awesome. When we checked with the chef, he said, that the trapanese pesto used almonds instead of pinenuts and another cheese pepperoncini apart from the parmesan. A quick check around the table revealed that well, most everyone felt the same.
By now, you have to understand, most of us were bursting. Plus because of the slow service, we’d eaten a lot of the flatbread and the puree, popped all the olives that were sitting on our tables and were honestly, borderline full. But the maincourse and the dessert were still upon us.
You could pick your maincourse – a choice between the John Dory with Israeli couscous, Tenderloin medallions with vegetables and rosemary foam and Pan-seared Polenta with mushrooms and asparagus spears. I ordered the Polenta and loved it. The sauce really complemented the polenta and the asparagus added a lovely bite. I tasted a bit of Sangeeta’s fish, which was lovely and the beef tenderloin turned out to be excellent too.
And then there was dessert – Olive oil ice cream, which I liked a lot served with a chocolate truffle cake, which was a bit well, meh. Not really begging to be eaten. This was sad because I love Italia’s Tiramisu and their Balsamic and ricotta gelato and even their chocolate pots. I wish the dessert was more poncy and worthy of the olive title.
But that said, we had a wonderful time. The food was good. The company fun. There was general laughter around the table. And when I was going the through pictures to process, I found a couple of my friend N’s rather strange ones. I had to put them up because she looks like the girl from The Ring in these.
Anyhoo, you’ve got to read what the others have to say too. Read that at
Tanya Khanna @Communicatingandcooking
Deeba Rajpal @Passionateaboutbaking
Sangeeta Khanna @Benaraskakhana
Rekha Kakkar @Mytastycurry
Sid Khullar @Chefatlarge
Sushmita @ My Unfinished Life