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Drown in rich, ‘cheesy’ Italian fare

19th Aug 2012

Ciro Pomodoro

1, N Block Market, GK 1

Ph: (011) 41731035

Meal for two: Rs.2,000

Garlic mushroom

iro Pomodoro hasn't been easy to understand. People have either loved it or hated it. A fairly sophisticated cafe, floor to ceiling glass, natural light flooding in, it was just the kind of place I would like to lunch at; though their sprawling, sexy, black and white marble bar and talked-about cocktails do tempt for an after-dark visit. The added laughter and chatter floating made for a fun ambiance. Every wall is a shrine to Ciro and all his many celebrity guests that have frequented his outlets worldwide.

Yes, for those of you who do not know – Ciro Pomodoro is a chain of restaurants. Everyone from the owner Amit Manchanda, to their operations manager Rajat Grover were on the ball – observing, learning and responding. The staff too was refreshingly attentive and comfortable with their customers. Ciro himself was present in all his glorious tattooed and bejeweled splendour. A vivacious and passionate personality, I would call him a lover before a businessman, though his nine outlets worldwide may argue otherwise. Ciro Pomodoro is yet to launch its full menu and as Manchanda explained they are wisely taking this time to adapt and strengthen their product before going all out.

In order to enjoy Pizza Pomodoro you have to, a) leave the elitist coat and your "well-travelled" passport outside b) keep the meal in perspective – this is not fine dining, and at the end of the day is a "chain". It is an Italian menu that you are likely to see at any "Little Italy" neighbourhood around the world. Italian food that has been dumbed down and made more mainstream. Nothing wrong with that and it certainly doesn't mean it can't be tasty.Image 2nd

Having said that, we tried a deliciously inauthentic dish you almost feel guilty admitting you loved - Garlic Mushroom starter, served with pizza bread – a very filling portion. All their accompanying breads are pizza bases topped lightly with olive oil, oregano and salt and are just wonderful. The mushroom dish was simple enough, drowned in heavy cream, wine, garlic and sprinkled with parsley. Unless you are on some sort of diet, it's hard to say no to another bite. Speaking of diets – Ciro Pomodoro certainly isn't the place for one.

The Carbonara was another cream-heavy dish, but in fact this time the excessive cream detracted more than it added – drowning the taste of the much needed pecorino and bacon. It tasted almost milky much to my displeasure. For old time's sake, I had to get the Eggplant Parmigiana. Besides my love for eggplant, I actually missed those greasy, cheesy, tomato layers of soft eggplant, topped with brown molten mozzarella.

It would be a shame to come to Pomodoro and not try a pizza because it definitely is the highlight here. We ordered the Pesto Pizza with Goat Cheese and Asparagus, apparently also Sharon Stone's favourite, for whatever that's worth. We had already got a glimpse of the perfect crust with our starter, and topped with their delicious pesto and goat cheese, it really hit the spot! Due to the imported ingredients – everything from the flour is Italian – the price is a bit more than one would want to pay for pizza – but that too is an issue I believe they are working on.Image 3rd

The best dish of the day came as a shock for my basa-hating self. Grover actually insisted we try their Filetto Di Dentice Alla Griglia, despite our many protests of being stuffed! And I'm so glad we did. Firstly, a very generous helping of pan-fried fish that came with a side of mashed potatoes and wilted spinach. The fish had a lightly crispy crust, packed with so much garlicky lemony goodness I couldn't stop eating it. Of course in true Ciro fashion, it was indulgent with butter, but let's face it that did only make it so much better.

I don't know how we made room for dessert but we did. Starting with the Panna Cotta, that came with a chocolate sauce graffiti on the plate spelling out "Pomodoro" – though one might call it "cute". I think it made the presentation look messy and cluttered. The panna cotta was quite nice, especially combined with the candied orange peel and toasted almond slivers. I didn't think the lemon cream was the best accompaniment to an already rich and creamy dessert – something fresher, in the form of fruit, or a compote would have provided a better contrast.

At this point, I was quite positively sick from all the eating but Ciro insisted we try the Profiteroles and I am so glad he did! Just when I thought no one was about to get it right here Pomodoro did. The choux pastry was light with a nice crisp exterior and appropriately fluffy interior, filled with vanilla ice-cream. I did not care much for their Hershey's-tasting chocolate sauce but honestly it didn't matter because they were great as is.

Follow Anisa's food adventures on her blog, Mademoiselle Chou-Fleur.

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