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    Italian food moves beyond pastas and risottos at this new specialty dining spot in town

    foodlead9bThe latest additon to our constantly burgeoning foodscape is Ottimo,  formerly the rather somber, masculine West View Grill at The ITC Gardenia now in a chic, elegant avatar. The transformation, which took place seamlessly over the last few months, is visible in the distinct cosmetic touches — rich silk accents, herb-inspired artwork and an inviting countertop display of Italian cheese, oils and charcuterie. Presiding over the reinvented space is the gregarious chef Vittorio Greco and as we explored his carefully curated menu, we found that whether it was the deconstructed parmigiana spheres or the artfully presented panacotta-like dessert that was almost too pretty to eat, Greco allows his ingredients to shine through — which is what good Italian cuisine should be about.

    Exquisite feast
    We started with Rocher di fegato grasso (Foie gras rocher), one of the most decadent appetisers I’ve sampled in a while. The spherical chocolate is halved, hollowed and filled with foie gras, resulting in a sweet-salty caramel-like explosion of your taste buds. The vegetarian version, Parmigiana di melanzane is not the classic aubergine and tomato affair we are familiar with but a chilled ball of cheese and white chocolate that literally melts on your palate. The appetisers set the bar almost impossibly high for the rest of the meal. A melange of Stilton stuffed figs with delicate slices of prosciutto followed. After the wow appetisers, this one was nice enough but not exceptional.

    You cannot go wrong with a Risotto di mare e monti, a seafood Risotto with wild mushrooms that definitely falls into the comfort food foodlead9fcategory. Italians know how to bring out the best in aubergines as evidenced by the pompous sounding Ravioli di melanzane con salsa al pomodoro fresco e ricotta salata, or homemade ravioli stuffed with roasted aubergines, smoked ricotta and fresh tomatoes that was quite delicious. The star of the show was the sea bass crusted with pistachio. The mild crustiness of the nuts complemented the tender, flaky, deceptively simply fish perfectly.

    Dessert lovers will enjoy Greco’s sophisticated version of sacher torte or his Biancomangiare al caramello with wild mountain honey and caramel.

    Meal for two Rs. 2,500. Details:  43455140

    — Jackie Pinto

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