Well, well, well….. Do I love Italian food? The answer is obvious and I am sure more than 99% of foodies will say YESSssssssss….
When I contacted Oscar Balcon, co-owner at Artusi Ristorante e bar, a luxury Italian Restaurant in New Delhi, I had little idea of what an exquisite time I am going to have savouring authentic Italian food n Desserts. Oscar has instructed me to come HUNGRY when I come to Artusi. And I was following his instructions when I finally visited. And to my amusement, the very first question he asked after exchanging greetings was – Are you HUNGRY? …. and I replied in the affirmative.
Pradeep, my colleague’s and mine eyes started admiring the beautiful settings of the restaurant. The elegant Italian styled bar with high stools and a small show window of delicious pastries and cakes, it was a sight to fall in love with. Fresh coffee smell was tantalizing, and I was getting restless cause of Hunger.
So not wanting to waste time, me and Pradeep were escorted into the ultra sophisticated, brightly lit dining room to dive into the exotic world of signature Italian food straight from the Emilia Romagna region. The decor was minimal, but I have not seen such a classy n sophisticated ambiance anywhere else. A small dining room with bright lights, photo frames with monochrome images of Italian celebrities, traditional wooden small and big tables with milky white Italian linen, zigzag sitting arrangements, beautiful yellow and white crockery and cutlery, singular vase with rose, mirrored walls, unusual abstract paintings and not so loud Italian Oprah music playing in the backgrounds – all made the ambiance hypnotizing.
Oscar was with us all throughout and he took us around his restaurant and compared the interiors with those of his grandma’s living room. He was a great host, I must say and I really enjoyed chatting with him about my sculptures, his love for food, travel and photography and his career as a banker.we were all in praise for his artistic perception and the lovely photographs that he has captured on his cameras, the pictures of the food at Artusi and also the travel pics that he showed us.
Oscar then went on to explain the concept of the restaurant. He told us that he co-owns Artusi with his wife Gurpinder Balcon. They have christened the restaurant ARTUSI RISTORANTE e Bar in honour to Mr Pellegrino Artusi, the famous cook-book writer from Italy. Do I have to mention here that Pelllegrino Artusi was born and grew up in the Emilia Romagna region (Emilia Romagna region, a region known for its artisanal pasta, balsamic vinegar, Parmesan cheese, and for Ferrari an Lamborghini), the same province where both Oscar and Artusi’s Exec. Chef Romina Lugaresi are from.
They say that great conversations on a Dining table are the beginning of a new relationship, and we did embark on building a new one at Artusi. During our three hour dinner at Artusi, Oscar went on to enlighten us with more and more about his ideas and concepts. All his life, Oscar has been a Banker, but he said that he always wanted to promote the authentic food of his native place in Italy, Emilia Romagna region in North east Italy. And through Artusi Ristorante e Bar he has started a new culinary journey in Delhi.
He further added that at the fine dining restaurant located in Greater Kailash II, they focus on what they truly love and do best: Traditional and completely home-made Italian cuisine – prepared in the same way as their mothers, and the mothers of their mothers, have always done back at their home region in Italy”.
Artusi opened its doors in Mid-April 2014 and since haven’t looked back. In the process they have already been winners of the Times of India Food Award of the Best Italian Restaurant in Delhi. They have also been recoganised by Conde Nast Traveler India for 50 Best Meals in Delhi. It already has been thronged by celebrities like Bachans and also many a Expats throng the place.
You are the happiest when you are full in the stomach, and for that you have to eat something. So it was now time to look at the extensive menu. The menu is vast and we needed Oscar’s help in understanding and identifying most of the veggie dishes, though the menu was quite informative about the ingredients – even egg less items were marked out clearly.
We left it entirely to Oscar to choose and order for us, but Oscar confidently said we could order anything from the menu, everything will be the Best. He was so confident about the quality and taste of the food served that he even mentioned that he feels bad for the guests who come in and end up not liking the food. He said that he feels bad that even after spending time and money – the guest goes unsatisfied because they don’t have a taste for the Italian food. About his food, he was absolutely confident.
We insisted that we let him choose for us this time. So there he was, instructing his staff and we got our drinks first, Sparkling water to quench our thirst and then Fresh orange juices. Pradeep was still trying to figure out the contents of the menu while we were served the Bread basket of soft n hard breads with an delicious sun dried tomato dip. Some relief for my already very very hungry and complaining tummy! we found the menu to contain a lot of handmade pasta, veggies, cheese and desserts. Oscar told me that this was because Emilio Romango region cuisine has a rich tradition of a variety of handmade pastas & raviolis, which they have incorporated in their menu.
Pradeep normally has no love for salads, he finds it to be just green leaves, cucumber, sliced onions and tomatoes and at times including some cut fruits. But I was surprised and amazed to see him relishing Ferro, an Arugola or baby spinach salad with grapes, raisins, pears and goat cheese with sprinklings of toasted pine-nuts, extra-virgin olive oil and Balsamic vinegar. It really was a great salad, I just loved the combination of pine-nuts and goat cheese. And for Pradeep it was the beginning of a knock out culinary session. A true Italian Gastronomy journey has just begun.
Before we could finish our salad, we already had Tortino di Porri on our table. This is a cheese and leeks quiche topped with melted Gorgonzola cheese. we both loved the soft cheesy quiche, And this was news to me, as Pradeep normally is not a big cheese lover.
We were then served Tomino, a delicacy made with finest imported soft cheese gently melted over roasted bread with sauteed mushrooms and truffle oil. An amazing dish, I wanted to nominate Tomino as the best dish of our meals, but there were more to follow.
Next to follow were Raviolo agli Asparagi ( hand made square shaped pasta packets filled with spinach, herbs and ricotta cheese set in butter, sage, and asparagus sauce) and Sigari Croccanti (Phyilo pastry cannelloni filled with essence of spiced and sweetly roasted vegetables with two egg less sauces). The Sigars were so delicate that they just melted as they entered my mouth. The preparations were light and delicious.
We then finished up our meals with a serving of Caponata e Risotto (a traditional dish of stewed diced eggplant, zucchini, bel pepper, pine nuts, raisins, onions, and fresh tomatoes in a sweet n sour sauce, with a side of risotto alla parmigiana). This again was an amazingly tasty dish and left a satisfying feel on our face. We in fact went on to finish the entire serving.
Oscar, while explaining about all these dishes mentioned about a few new dishes from new additions in the menu coming up and showed us a few pictures. One of the cold soups looked so inviting and Pradeep who has a liking for cold soups, immediately agreed to try the cold Tomato soup made with mixing of cucumber and served with cut veggies. The veggies are to be mixed with the cold soup. The presentation was artistic and colourful and expressions on my colleague’s face were heavenly.
Whatever may be the cuisine, for us Desserts are a must. And for an Italian meal too, a meal is incomplete without desserts. And myself being a big fan of fine Italian desserts opted for three different deserts. Oscar in fact was very happy seeing us choose three. First was the Tiramisu – mama mia – what a Tiramisu it was – made as per ancient authentic recipe, handmade with coffee and brandy; it was the best tiramisu I have ever had in my entire life. And seeing the expressions on Oscars’s face as he watched Pradeep relish the Tiramisu – was an experience. He mentioned that seeing you enjoy our Tiramisu has made his day and he didn’t even wanted a review of our experience.
Next was Panna Cotta ai Fichi e le Mandorie, a signature dessert of Artusi; a truly authentic egg less dessert recipe of true finesse – the sweet figs provided the tangy feel that was needed and I simply uttered that I am loving this sinful indulgence.
Being chocolate lovers we had opted for Tartufo di Cioccolato, a delicious egg less chocolate cake with dried apricot and hazel nut croquant. I have no words to explain what we both felt when we dug into this chocolate pastry. Oscar was sharing this with and at least for the two of non-Italians on the table it really was a SINFUL EXPERIENCE…
We were full, but we wanted more. And we did not want to leave, but a look on our watches said that it has been over three hours since we embarked on this Sinful journey. Even by Italian standards the dinner has to be over in three hours. So bidding adieu to Oscar, our wonderful Italian host we left Artusi with sweet memories and a promise to come back sooonnnn…..
Service: 4.5/5 Ambiance: 4.5/5 Food: 5/5 Hospitality : 5/5
Meal for two : INR 3500-4000 ( approx )
Address : M-24, M Block Market, Greater Kailash 2, New Delhi
All photographs by Pradeep Chamaria / exatraveller.
Disclaimer : The views expressed are entirely our own, and for a particular time and day. We were invited for a review by the café .