OMINOUS though it sounds, it’s good news that the ‘mafia’ is in town. In this case, it means a new Italian restaurant just off RK Salai. The culmination of a love story with pizzas, gelatos and The Godfather series, the 23-day-old eatery has managed to squeeze it all in, in 2,500 sq ft. The signage outside The Padrino (the words picked out in the now-famous lettering of the movie posters) sets the mood, while inside the 72-cover—with copper chairs, brick walls, wood floors and exposed beams, reminiscent of a trattoria—I find the theme continues with splatters of red on the walls (it’s just sauce, they say), a picture of Marlon Brando and even some lines from the movies.
Eye for quality
I sit down at a corner table to wait for owners Krishnamurthy HK and Veena, and watch the place fill up—a boisterous table of women, who order the restaurant’s signature 30-inch pizza (`2,200 onwards); cliques of college students, happily sharing orders of crostini platters and gnocchi formaggio (with sweet Gorgonzola and Grana Padano cheese); and a few couples on lunch dates, chatting over Mason jars brimming with iced tea. Soon the husband and wife duo joins me, along with a selection of favourites—from crunchy bruschetta and a light tortellini in brodo (the rubbery handmade pasta pockets disappoint in the flavourful broth), and a refreshing Caesar di Gamberi salad, with plenty of prawns and sun-dried tomatoes. While Krishnamurthy tells me the menu has been curated by Italian chef Alessandro Cargiolli, the man behind Delhi’s popular Artusi Ristorante e Bar and numerous restaurants in the Middle East (where he is currently opening 22 new ones), Veena shares that much of what they serve are imported, from the Italian cheeses to the New Zealand lamb. “My food costs are double, but I am willing to do that to get good customers on a regular basis,” says Krishnamurthy, who also runs an interior design firm in Dubai.
While the housemade pastas are tempting, I decide to try the mushroom risotto and a 9” pizza with a trio of toppings. The perfectly cooked Arborio rice warms me up, while the pizza offers a crunchy counterpoint. Finally it’s time for dessert. I’m torn between the creamy tiramisu—made with imported ladyfingers and mascarpone, and freshly-brewed espresso (delicious)—and their bestseller, the gelato. Made fresh almost every day, with many of the 18 flavours running out quickly over the weekends, I soon find my favourite—a subtle yet rich one made with imported Sicilian pista. And with French breads and Mexican in the pipeline, I have a feeling I’ll be making my way back here soon.
Meal for two at Rs 1,800 approx. Details: 24996601
—Surya Praphulla Kumar