If there’s another country whose citizens are as passionate about their regional food as India Skeeter would vote for Italy. Though Italian visa has not been stamped on Skeeter’s passport yet, Italy remains in top five of the travel bucket list. Till then Skeeter keeps satiated by sampling Italian culinary offerings in Delhi. Let us be frank. Skeeter was a wee bit shy trying out Artusi Ristorante simply because Diva is practically next door. Ritu Dalmia introduced Skeeter to Italian food (as she did to most of you Skeety believes) few years ago and Skeeter has NEVER gone beyond Diva. Not a wink.
An invite to sample food by Artusi kept sitting in the inbox. There were heaps and heaps of praises in the social circles. Skeeter was growing restless and finally gave in to the temptation. Artusi is a quaint restaurant with limited covers and welcoming interiors. It features food from Emilia Romagna region in Italy and is named after Pellegrino Artusi, one of the founders of Italian cuisine, who penned the first Pan-Italian Cookbook. The owners are Gurpinder and Oscar Balcon, a well-travelled couple who globetrotted before settling in India. Oscar tells that a lot of the food featured on the Artusi menu is just like his mother would prepare.
One walks into the restaurant through a bar that has a deli corner too. The bar is designed such that one can overlook passers by on the street through a full sized glass wall while enjoying their drink. Very European. The lighting was a bit harsh but it could in no way dampen the experience.
The first thing that would strike one is the freshness of the ingredients used. The Rape e Noci salad came first. Roasted deep red beets, water cress, crunchy and juicy green apple slices and walnuts dressed in goat cheese, finished with croutons and balsamic made for a pretty plate and pleasing palate. Emilia Romagnia happens to be the place where the first Balsamic vinegar was aged. The region is also famous for its Parmesan cheese and Parma ham.
The Tomino came next. An Italian cheese roundel (a very generous portion that) melted over a bruschetta that was drizzled with fragrant truffle oil. There were sauteed mixed mushrooms (Skeeter’s favourite Enoki too!)for company. It was a dish that relied on the star ingredients than anything else and worked very well for Skeeter. By now Skeets was very full but she had to sample the pasta and so she called for a small portion of Paglia e Fieno Aurora. This handmade white and green angel hair pasta was a treat to the eyes and was set in a pink sauce with shallots, mushrooms, tomatoes and cream. Skeeter cannot even begin to write about the freshness of this one. The pasta was al dente and the sauce beautifully complemented its texture. A must try.
The meal ended with Artusi signature dessert which was what pulled Skeeter to this Ristorante in the first place. The Panna Cotta Fichi e Mandorle. Panna Cotta with caramelized figs and fig sauce in a lush pool of caramel and beautiful almond slivers. As Skeeter writes this post she cannot but help think of when she will get another bite of it. Soon, very soon.