Impasta in Chennai rolls out 12 handcrafted varieties of pasta from tagliatelle to tortellini
This is not an Italian restaurant. But it is a pasta bar. How’s that for an appetiser? At Impasta, owned and run by chef duo Aarnav Merchant and Alagu Vignesh — expect 12 hand-rolled pasta variants from tagliatelle to tortellini. But giving themselves “creative room to play” with flavours, we’re told over lunch, was as essential as their Pomodoro tomatoes — sourced all the way from Italy. This is why you can expect influences as far-flung as French (Parisienne Gnocchi) and Japanese (dashi sauce to heighten flavour in the Mushroom Cappellacci). Even the caramel sauce drizzled over their Basque Cheesecake has a touch of soy for those alluring umami notes.
In a Michelin minute
This is certainly impressive for two IHM Mumbai graduates, who are all of 25. But we begin to piece together the map of their savvy flavour spectrum when we hear about their travels. Alagu picked up an internship at Vikas Khanna’s NY restaurant Junoon and later worked under Rene Rodriguez (winner of Top Chef Canada) in Ottawa. Meanwhile, Aarnav found culinary experience by working short stints, at not one or two, but eight Michelin star restaurants in Chicago — including the likes of Sepia and Blackbird. Both went on to return home to Chennai and work under Chennai-based Sandesh Reddy (Sandy’s Chocolate Laboratory) before they decided to venture out on their own.
Also notable is their discerning one-page menu, which boldly passes on many a crowd-pleasing staple. No pizza, no penne and risotto, is being given the boot as you read this. “Our focus is a small menu with novel offerings you won’t get anywhere else,” says Aarnav. And true to his word, the Parisienne Gnocchi is as light as a cloud and quite the opposite of the dense potato versions we have grown used to. “We swap out the potato for choux pastry,” Aarnav lets us in on their secret. A garnish of cured egg yolk (which takes three weeks to prepare) ups the ante even further by adding a pretty pop of colour and a subtle hint of indulgence.
Stoked about yolk
The versatile yolk is used elsewhere as well. We recommend you order the Cream Cheese & Egg Raviolo which oozes a molten golden at first cut. You might want to capture this in slow-mo for a side serving of Instagram FOMO! Other winners that we would definitely go back for are the hearty Lamb Stew & Pappardelle (although, we would have liked some more stew) and the signature house favourite for dessert — a luscious Tiramisu. That said, if you have a preference for tart and tang — don’t miss their silken Panna Cotta with a topping of lemon curd and macerated strawberries.
Meal for two at INR 1,500 approx. Dine-in or order via Instagram.