For a hearty Italian meal with surprising new twists try the new menu at ITC Kohenur's Ottimo
Did you know that way back in the late 1880s Neapolitan pizza maker Raffaele Esposito created Margherita Pizza to honour the queen consort of Italy, Margherita of Savoy? We stumbled upon this interesting trivia when we stopped by at Ottimo, ITC Kohenur, to meet chef de cuisine (Italian specialist) Gianni Leopardi and check out the new menu he had crafted.
Born in Italy, chef Gianni travelled to the United States, Syria, Cairo and Beijing, before moving to India for the third time, this April. “To understand the cuisine of any place, it is necessary to grasp the history,” he said, as he presented us with two kinds of pizzas to try. Apparently, in Italy, pizza is never thin crust, but the latter is a mere commercial variation. Hence, he first urged us to take a bite of the newly introduced Pizza Con Pomodoro Fresco Mozzarella E Burrata. This comes with fresh tomato sauce as a base, molten mozzarella, a sprinkling of oregano and burrata. We liked this far better than the thin-crust cousin we tasted immediately afterwards. “We have introduced pizza dough that’s 80 per cent hydrated and requires almost 36 hours of labour. That’s the only way we can replicate the real pizza dough served in Italy,” says Gianni.
However, this place is not only about pizza. Their attention to detail is apparent in this menu — starting from the breadbasket comprising Italian country bread. They are baked without salt, so when you pair it with one of the herbed basil or sun-dried tomato butter, the flavours stand on its own. Talking about antipasti, the Fichi Farciti Al Gorgonzola Involti In Pancetta Arrosto is figs stuffed with gorgonzola and wrapped in pancetta. Warm and salty figs were certainly a novelty, but can’t say we enjoyed it too much though. However, we found it commendable that locally available figs were woven into Italian cuisine. As we enquired more about the ingredients, we learned that over 40 per cent of it is sourced locally. Just as we were done savouring the first antipasti, we moved on to the Burrata Meloni Grigliati Lattuche Di Stagione — fresh burrata served with grilled melons of season. This dish was comforting to the hilt. The fact that there was a break in the monotony — we are more than often served burrata with tomato — was as refreshing as the dish itself. We also loved the goat cheese truffles three ways — flavoured goat cheese spheres served with roasted bell peppers, arrucola salad and ciabatta toast. The slight hint of balsamic that went with three kinds of cheese, was like a burst of flavours.
The Mezzelune Di Asparagi E Ricotta Con Burro Bruciato, a semi-circular stuffed pasta, similar to ravioli, had a mild earthy flavour that was a perfect fit for the molten cheese that is mixed with it. We might have found the ricotta a little too much in excess thereby leaving an overpowering aftertaste, but the freshness of the minced asparagus won us over. The Risotto Funghi Porcini E Pancetta, a hearty medley with porcini mushrooms, pancetta and doused in chardonnay was intense in a good way. The Pancetta and salumi made of pork belly meat added depth to this dish. But, the moment in this full-course meal that had was the most excited were the desserts! The ending with Bonet Piemontese — a rich chocolate Italian sweet dish won us over, one bite at a time. We soon found out that it is actually a recipe that the chef’s grandmother handed over to him. But it lacked the drama that the Tartina Di Pinoli had! This crunchy pine nut tart with oozing lemon sabayon topped with a spicy hint of honey black pepper mascarpone was a flavourful finale that we had hoped for.
Rs 1,700 for two without alcohol.