Simple fresh ingredients characterise Italian food and perhaps that is why it is one of my favourite global cuisines. The extensive use of garlic and olive oil further endears this cuisine to me. Rustic pastas, crisp pizzas, fresh salads, creamy and luscious desserts. Oh I can never have enough of Italian food.
Trattoria style Italian food, cooked in home-style is my weakness, so I entered La Terrazza at Hyatt Regency Pune, the swish and elegant restaurant replete with a warm vibe, with a bounce in my step. No, this was not my first, I have savoured a memorable meal here two years ago and the excitement was thus justified. Furthermore, I was told a lot has changed since then, so the excitement was two-fold.
Executive Chef Anirban Dasgupta and his team including Chef Surajit, welcomed us and we were seated comfortably in this cheerful restaurant. Cosy and elegant, yet casual.
A dinner buffet is a new inclusion, I noted, since my last visit. A walk around and I noticed that the spread was lavish. Yes, lavish in terms of the variety, but otherwise, typical Italian food, cooked in homes in Italy- grandmother-esque cooking. Robust, rustic and simple. Pastas, pizza, anti pasti, soups, mains and desserts- there was a lot to choose from. Of course the soups and mains are served straight from the kitchen to the table.
The live counters were a delight as one could watch chefs in action and actually see what is being cooked and served.
I relished the in-house focaccia as I waited for our food to arrive.
Our Buratta Caprese – Fresh burratta cheese with assorted marinated cherry tomatoes, arrived. The creamy burratta simply melt-in-the-mouth and the salad was bursting with fresh flavours all the way. What was heartening to know that chef had actually sourced most of the ingredients locally, as he is a great believer of eat local, think global. I second that completely.
Roasted pumpkin cappuccino with truffle oil came next. Normally I am used to a somewhat heavy pumpkin soup but this one was light in texture but high on flavours. The garlic infused roasted pumpkin soup was aromatic and comforting. The truffle oil added another dimension to the flavours.
Vishwanath, serving us, was polite and extremely well-versed with the dishes he was offering and that was impressive. The Fungi trifolati, was a medley of textures and flavours. Mixed mushrooms sautéed with garlic, lemon juice and parsley with asparagus. I was delighted with the unusual textures amalgamated in one dish. But then, that is Chef Anirban’s passion and forte. He enjoys playing around with textures, giving a simple dish that ‘wow’ factor by imparting unique textures to an ingredient or two.
Gnocchi a la Norma, I must confess no longer excites me as I have sampled it at almost every Italian restaurant. But a bite into the one served here and I was proven wrong. This was certainly out of the ordinary. The aubergine parmigiana fritti in the centre, completely revolutionised this otherwise simple dish. I was mesmerized by the texture this element added to the dish. Chef Anirban truly proved he is a master of his craft.
Just when the gnocchi had cast its spell on my taste buds and I thought I had sampled the best, the piece de resistance for the evening came in the form of the Risotto Asparagus. The crusty texture that one bit into before the creamy risotto enveloped one’s mouth was enough to plunge any gourmand into a coma. And I was no exception.
Fresh ingredients, simple cooking methods. This was honest food to the core. No unnecessary drama here. The food was true to its region, yet, with a twist. With diverse and ever-changing culinary landscapes, these additions and skilful changes to each dish, given by chef, are what give the food at La Terrazza, that extra edge.
For once, the mains had left me so spellbound that I almost forgot I was to relish desserts. Of course I was not going to skip Italian desserts. Tiramisu nostrano – La Terrazza signature twist, Mahabaleswar strawberry compote and Sicilian Cannoli Dulche de leche, Amarena cherry sauce were pretty as a picture and equally decadent in taste.
The attention to detail and fresh flavours of the cuisine here, are bound to contribute further to its popularity among locals as well as those visiting Pune. Of course La Terrazza is already a preferred dining destination for many. Open for lunch and dinner throughout the week and only dinner on Sundays, this place offers value-for-money food and tremendous variety.
I was transported to an Italian countryside that night as I dined at La Terrazza. Inspired flavours, but homely Italian cuisine at its best. That was the thought I left with.