Visiting chef Vittorio Greco creates a new menu at Ottimo, ITC Grand Chola, and decides to go about it like a painter
Imagine the Italian tenor Pavarotti wearing a chef’s toque and whipping up a storm while singing an aria and presenting it to you on a plate! That’s the kind of electric presence that visiting Italian master chef, Vittorio Greco brings to the table at Ottimo the Italian fine dining restaurant at the ITC Grand Chola. “For me food is theatre,” he exclaims, his arms tracing circles in the air as if he were a magician or wizard. Standing by Zubin Writer, who is the regular Ottimo senior sous chef, helps him conjure the first dish that Greco places in front of us.
Art on a plate
“Voila! Melanzane alla Parmigianino,” cries Greco. There are golden segments of fried Parmesan that flutter like butterflies over a bed of pale green mousse that gives the dish its name — eggplant Parmesan. Squiggles of black charcoal oil have been calligraphed with white buttons of Mozzarella cheese, crunchy croutons of bread, olive oil and basil leaves. Greco scoops up all the different ingredients with a large soupspoon and places it on our plates. Every bit of it is gorgeous. “It’s also vegetarian. I’ve created dishes that will appeal to the people of this city,” explains Greco, “where you have some wonderful ingredients. Italian food is all about great produce. Simple things. Onion, garlic, tomatoes, eggplant — you have them all here,” he says.
Of course, the olive oil is Italian as also the cheeses with which he foregrounds his dishes. The Buratto for instance uses Mozzarella stuffed with cream and hung curd. It’s presented in a maze of carrot strips, each curve filled with a mousse of salad leaves. Do we talk of the superb Parmesan Brule? Or the soup of layered Jerusalem artichoke over a bed of Gorgonzola cheese, with a tiny square of dark chocolate just about to melt at the centre? Abandoning the vegetarian theme, we try the scallops stuffed with goat cheese and black truffles, crostini with bone marrow and a ravioli pillowed with anchovies that makes us want to sing. The best is yet to come. Pannacotta served Greco style, like an Italian flag and a chocolate bomb Mussolini style, exploding on the plate.
Ottimo “Season Two Zero” has put theatre back into fine dining.
Approximately Rs.3,500 per person. Details: 22200000
— Geeta Doctor