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    Italiano’s desi fusion fare, at pocket-friendly prices, will have you coming back for more

    Italiano, the new vegetarian restaurant in the hub of Anna Nagar, is easily noticeable to passersby. As we entered, we were greeted by Divya Pesala, co-owner of the restaurant, who introduced herself as a self-taught chef and former Visual Communications student. Unlike many other Italian restaurants in the city, Divya claims that Italiano brings its own twist to the table. “We don’t serve authentic Italian food. Even people who don’t fancy the cuisine will like the food at Italiano, as it is a fusion of Indian and Italian flavours. Our aim is to satisfy everyone’s taste buds.”

    The 18-seater restaurant is a cosy place with a décor that shouts out food. Calling it a start-up venture, Pesala who curated the menu says she wanted to keep it short and simple with a choice of all her best dishes. First, we were introduced to the ongoing best seller, the Italian bhel, a dish made of in-house fried pasta tossed in Indo-Italian syrup (jaggery, herbs, chilli powder) with vegetables and mayonnaise. With a sweet and chilli kick, the crispy strings were in equal parts tangy and creamy.

    Pesala says that the restaurant has already become a hangout spot for many youngsters who enjoy revisiting, courtesy its pocket-friendly prices and quick bites-style menu. We sampled the Veggie Salad, which reminded us of salads from Subway. It’s highlight is Pesala’s special herb dressing, in the form of jelly replacing the meat and egg, which is usually part of an regular Subway salad. We were also treated to Pesala’s signature dish—baby corn fritters, served with chipotle and mayonnaise sauce.

    The restaurant’s version of mac and cheese balls failed to make an impression though, and sadly lacked seasoning. Our favourite was the Italian pizza—thin crusted and topped with exotic vegetables like zucchini, olives and baby corn, this one is value for your money. As we concluded the meal and prepared to say our ciaos, Pesala let on that she also plans to start an outdoor catering menu, which will also include lasagnas and desserts like tiramisu.
    From Rs 400 for two. Details: 30853614

    —  Sakina Valsadwala

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