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All that’s mouth-wateringly Mediterranean

12th Apr 2014

Zerruco By Zilli

The Ashoka, 50-B, Kautilya Marg, Diplomatic Enclave, Chanakyapuri

Ph: (011) 3303 6587

Meal for two: Rs.Rs 3,500 (approx)

The al fresco dining area at Zerruco by Zilli

The setting was perfect: a balmy early-summer evening interspersed with an occasional breeze. And like every perfect setting, this one made me hungry too. The destination was Hotel Ashoka, one of those few surviving establishments still operated as Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) of the India Tourism Development Corporation. One is advised not to enter the hotel from the entrance, which faces Vinay Marg and Nehru Park, as a chipped and deserted reception desk, along with worn out red carpentry will greet you mournfully — a stark contrast to the first image of the hotel I was introduced to (a photograph of Smita Patil standing in one of the hotels signature jharokha styled balconies). But a series of new interventions are set to reclaim the lost glory of this iconic hotel. Pangea, reputed to be one of the most expensive night clubs in the world, opened its doors to the capital at Ashoka a few months ago. The latest addition to this new repertoire of chic and upmarket establishments is Zerruco by Zilli.

Named after and co-branded with renowned chef Aldo Zilli, comes across as a larger than life space replicating a somewhat high-end deconstructed midtown warehouse. The interiors are lined with mirrors and chandeliers and luscious leather chairs that lend a languid charm. The restaurant includes a 3,000 sq ft dining area bordered in glass and al fresco seating lined with wooden panels. The interiors also house a 70-ft wood finished square panel back lit wall equipped with the latest audio, visual system and projection mapping technology.

The pan-Mediterranean menu is tweaked and re-worked seasonally, depending on the availability of fresh, seasonal produce. As soon as we occupied our seats, a basket of breads and tapenades arrived. We were served two chilli Bellinis, both of which were divine. A bowl of refreshing summer salad with arugula (roquette), melons, olives, orange segments and goats cheese opened up the course perfectly. A carpaccio of sea bass, served with powdered olives, capers and drenched in sharp vinaigrette was an absolute treat. The pepperoni pizza with a simple tomato sauce and mozzarella, done to perfection in a wood-fired oven was simple and delightful — a welcome aside from the rubbish toppings-autocracy. For the mains we tried a dish of duck ravioli and lamb chops served with a side of mash and mushroom terrine. Both the dishes displayed absolute mastery.

A martini of Kahlua, espresso and vodka goes great with dessert, which this time was superbly executed panna cotta and raspberry gelato. A perfect evening could not have ended on a more perfect note.

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