Chef Akanksha Dean picks five great Italian restaurants in the capital that will transport you to Roma
The capital’s Italian restaurant scene is as varied as the foodie city itself. From the best handmade pastas to trattoria-style seating, you’ll find authentic Italian food at these five restaurants…
Hyatt Regency Delhi
The driving force behind La Piazza’s enduring success has always been its commitment to introduce Delhi to the authentic flavours of Italy. It is the first Italian trattoria-style restaurant in the city with a live kitchen, as well as the first to introduce customers to lesser-known Italian wines, and the country’s first espresso and tiramisu. Its innovative dishes such as Pizza La Piazza, Truffle Oil Ricotta Tortellini, and the freshly-baked focaccia bread with olive tapenade make it unique among the handful of Italian restaurants in the city. The focus of the restaurant has been on the show kitchen, which features a classic wood-burning pizza oven that lends a typical flavour to pizzas, as well as a counter displaying herbs and other food items from the land of this popular cuisine, and, of course, the action of the chefs as they cook pasta dishes and pizzas. The food is served pre-plated, except for lunch, when a buffet of antipasti and desserts is offered along with a choice of a pre-plated main course.
Pizza La Piazza (above) the restaurant’s signature pizza, attracts food enthusiasts from across the city in droves. The crust is thin and crisp, and guests can taste the unique flavour of the wood fired oven. It comes topped with sun-dried tomatoes, fresh and zingy basil pesto, creamy goat cheese, and garlic.
Must-tries: Pizza La Piazza, Pizza Vegetariana, Spinach Ricotta Ravioli, Spaghetti Aglio Olio, Spinach Lasagne
DLF Horizon, Gurgaon
There are no twists, no fusion, and no short-cuts at this Italian fine dining restaurant. The cuisine is more than just authentic Italian, its authenticity is specific to a region in Italy, Emilia-Romagna, from where the promoter hails. Artusi Ristorante focuses on what it does best: a rigorous selection of the highest quality imported products and a consistent insistence that all food preparations are made in-house and by hand. In this kitchen, you will find the traditional fire grilling of meats and seafood, and, right next to it, high tech pacojet and sous-vide creations. The menu includes a wide range of home-made pastas, many of them are vegetarian. The number one selling item is handcrafted ravioli, filled with fine fresh baby spinach and authentic Italian ricotta, set in a green asparagus, butter, sage and Parmigiano-Reggiano sauce.
Must-tries: Gnocchi (made with potato only; no egg), strozzapreti, chitarra (square handmade spaghetti), and a series of artfully-shaped pasta pockets such as tortellino (round-shaped), raviolo (square-shaped) and cappelletto (hat-shaped)
With chic decor in a vibrant colour scheme, a rustic ambience and contemporary alfresco dining, Prego features state-of-the-art elements with brilliant artwork, an interactive open kitchen and an extensive wine cellar. The tall wood-fired pizza oven at the heart of the restaurant elevates the character of the restaurant and adds to the bustling interactive ambience. The cuisine is rustic yet refined, rooted in tradition, and prepared using the freshest ingredients. Expat Chef Reno Serra hails from Trentino-Alto Adige – Italy’s northernmost region bordering Switzerland and Austria; his food is hearty and imbued with centuries of history and cultural influences. His menu reflects his passion for rustic Italian cooking, hearty portions, robust ingredients, and rich flavours. A dish you cannot miss is the Wild Mushroom Risotto (above). The amalgamation of the earthy pungent truffle oil with the freshness of locally-sourced portobello mushrooms makes it a winner.
Must-tries: Ravioli Ricotta and Spinach, Orzo Al Ortolana (roasted vegetable and caramelised garlic barley risotto), Gnocchi Di Patate Ai Quattro Formaggi, Insalata Di Pere E Gorgonzola, Orecchiette Con Pesto E Fagiolini
Shangri-La Eros New Delh
Named after a stunning coastal town in the Southwest region of Italy, this restaurant is a beautiful example of authentic Italian culture and gastronomy. Designed by the Dubai-based Stickman Design, it boasts elegant yet warm and casual interiors that offer diners an authentic Italian ambience. Square tables make the most of the space in a busy eatery perfect for family get-togethers. Sorrento takes an innovative approach to Neapolitan cooking, with flavours that are unique, inventive, yet relaxed without compromising on the traditional flavours to provide hearty Italian classics but always with creativity and zest. Under the helm of Executive Chef Gagandeep Singh Sawhney, authentic Italian cuisine is presented with a unique contemporary flair.
Must-tries: Sicilian Arancini, Pizza Bianco, Burrata Salad (above), Canestri Alla Norma (homemade short pasta, tomato, aubergine and ricotta), Ricotta Funghi, Vegetariana Pizza
The Leela Gurgaon
An uninterrupted view of the city welcomes diners to this restaurant, promising a memorable evening ahead. The entrance showcases neatly-stacked Italian wines among a selection of over 1,500 wines from around the world. The major emphasis is on regional Italian, dishes from Tuscany, Naples, Sorrento, etc, all of them popular and comforting as only Italian dishes can be. In addition, signature recipes that made their mark from all the menus since the inception of the restaurant are being brought back into the limelight such as the Risotto alla Milanese, the Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli, and the branzino. Executive Chef Abhishek Gupta works with local, seasonal ingredients, and a lot of root vegetables. Travelling across the globe has made him very familiar with Italian classics. Arancini is a star dish here. The restaurant makes arancini by the classic technique of slow cooking the Arborio rice over a double boiler to facilitate the slow release of the starch; the rice is cooled in a wooden bowl. All these considerations, perfected over the years, ensure the unique texture of the arancini at Zanotta; it is a stand-out dish here.
Must-tries: Arancini, Mushroom Cappuccino with Roasted Pumpkin and Truffle Oil, Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli with Sage and Butter Sauce, Grilled Truffle Polenta with Wild Mushroom Ragout, Crostata Gianduia Cioccolato
Also see: Love Oriental Food? Here Are 10 Great Restaurants To Try In Delhi