Roma at Holiday Inn serves the best of Italy

The ‘tomatoey’ aftertaste of food masquerading as Italian food had not yet left the tastebuds when another opportunity at trying ‘authentic’ Italian food presented itself.

If something’s got to be done it’s got be done. So there I was at Roma, Hoilday Inn’s specialty restaurant, on its mezzanine floor. Wooden floors, a crackling stone oven, wine bottles are part of the interior design detailing…the kind of place you can sit and watch the world (or people from different parts of the world go by), in the hotel’s lobby.

The menu is, literally, Italian. There is, of course, the accompanying translation of the menu. And on the menu the food looks scrumptious. Knowledge about Italian food, as far as the general public goes, is confined to the twin entities - pizza and pasta. The extremely helpful, and knowledgeable, Roysten Coutino comes to the rescue, he even pronounces the dishes how the Italians might (or so it sounds).

Roysten says Zuppa de Pesce Roma, so it is the Sardinian seafood stew more simply put fish soup. Before the zuppa, come the breads – foccaccia and ciabatta. Some might be put off at the sound of fish soup, this writer for one was apprehensive. But when it came, what a beauty the tomato based broth turned out to be. A menacing crab claw reached out of the soup adding drama to the dish.

The extremely light broth was cooked with the seafood and veggies, it was one sure shot way to whet one’s appetite.

Zuppa done, next up was the antipasto (starter) Caprese di Roma, which is buffalo mozzarella and tomatoes dressed in pesto. It is a salad, but in the context more of starter- succulent slices of buffalo mozzarella arranged with sliced tomatoes with a confit of olives, sundried tomatoes and artichokes. Pesto is something like our green chutney. The salad came together in a burst of flavours.

It was time for the main course and there came Pollo al Limone which is grilled chicken with pan gravy. The other options were Branzino con salsa Lattuga (pan seared sea bass with Rocca sauce) and Filetto Manzo Crosta di Gorgonzola (grilled beef tenderloin steak with garlic jus). And thank God the usual suspects - spaghetti and pizza - which are thrust upon unsuspecting food writers were, happily so, missing. Pollo is chicken and limone is lemon. The dish was simple, yet nuanced. The flavours of the marinade – lime and herbs came through wonderfully.

And to slog a cliché, grilled to succulent perfection, the gravy was the juice left behind after the chicken was grilled. Mashed potatoes and bright grilled vegetables such as zucchini, bell peppers (red and yellow) added to the balance of the dish – “the protein carbohydrate balance” in Roysten’s words. There is the option of wine.

A word about presentation…hats off to the chef for the presentation. He made the food look beautiful and not just taste good. The food was served with care and it looked as if the chef cared about how the guest felt about the food. Most restaurants around the city don’t treat the food so.

After the three courses, one is full. But what meal is complete without dessert. There came poached meringue and tiramisu. Umm…the jury is still out on which was better. The meringue tasted like delicious custard and one could get a heavenly high on the tiramisu. Such a delightful wrap to a meal that was very comforting. Comforting because there were no overpowering flavours jostling for attention and the way the chef treated the food. Kudos to the chef!

Suffice it to say it was time well spent in Roma.

Keywords: Holiday Inn