A week ago, some of the fellow food enthusiasts and I were invited by Chef Armando di Filippo to the Movenpick Hotel and Spa Bangalore, to try out his newly crafted menu at Mezzaluna, the hotel’s Italian restaurant. While I’ve met the chef on a couple of occasions before, I not had the pleasure of trying out the Italian fare. All of us were rather famished after the long drive to the hotel; as we waited we were served some bread with cherry tomatoes, olive oil and some pickled pumpkin shavings to ensure we didn’t start chewing on the chairs. I’m not sure if it was the hunger, but I thoroughly enjoyed the pickled pumpkin shavings.
Lunch commenced with a plate of salad – an Insalata Caprina with Tomato Bruschetta and Ricotta Cheese. A simple refreshing dish that made me want more food right away. Before I could stuff myself with more pumpkin shavings, we were presented with the next course - a Spinach Ricotta Ravioli accompanied by a Corn Linguine Pasta. This dish was something else. The spinach ricotta was cooked perfectly with the right balance of the cheese, the thickness of the pasta and the quantity of spinach all coming together exquisitely to introduce me to an absolutely new flavour that I am in love with. Like a perfect song where no one instrument overpowers the other, the spinach ricotta was an absolute hero. Writing this post almost a week later, I can still remember the taste. A lot of folks tend to be pasta snobs and that might just be all of us being spoilt by MasterChef, but there was nothing wrong with the Corn Linguine Pasta whose pasta came off the shelf. Tasty and simple with olive oil dressing, olives and sun-dried tomatoes, the pasta was a silent sidekick to the spinach ricotta. Pasta – check!
Bringing in some innovation to the pizza which was served next, Chef Armando decided to do away with the traditional tomato sauce base and presented us with an all-Broccoli Pizza. The broccoli was ground into a paste that formed the base for what was a rather simple pizza of broccoli, olives, onion and cheese. I’m a big fan of broccoli, so naturally I thoroughly enjoyed the pizza. All the greens actually made me feel like I was having something healthy. Pizza – check!
The main course consisted of Involini Zuccini, a zucchini stuffed with ricotta, sun dried tomatoes and bell peppers served with a perfectly cooked piece of Saltimbocca; there was a an eggplant variant for the vegetarians. The veal was cooked perfectly, tender enough to cut through without wrestling it and yet gamey enough once popped into the mouth. Combining the sweet flavours of the ricotta with the slightly peppery veal balanced out every bite perfectly. What was missing for me was a more prominent herb taste from something like basil that would have made this dish a stellar meal.
Dessert was a restrained tiramisu that tasted quite alright with the flavours one expects from any respectable tiramisu, I would have preferred a hint of liquor in the mix to give it that little punch as it hits the tongue, but then…. That’s just me. Giving us company throughout the meal were a bottle each of a Hardy’s white wine and a Saint Cosme Little James Basket; the latter is something I absolutely enjoyed in terms of flavour. Another addition to my list of wines I like without knowing any of the nuances of why.
Every dish presented to us had a certain fresh summer element to it. Italian cooking for me is less about big chunks of meat and more about bold citrus and herbal flavours that accentuate pastas and pizzas. Going by what we had, all the dishes in this new menu should hit all the right spots. In terms of flavour, every dish was packed with enough flavour to entice the average Indian palate with something new and enjoyable. Kudos to Chef Armando di Filippo, and a big thanks for spending time with us talking so passionately about Italian food. Nothing like good conversation to make a great meal even better. Now if only we could find a way around all the traffic to get to Mezzaluna…