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Food that makes you say, ‘Aah’!

Ottimo at West View in ITC Maurya offers dishes that leave an interesting after taste and something to think about

Once in a while, I spend an evening with friends under the open sky, over a wide array of delicious dishes, and sigh contentedly. I had one such meal the other day at Ottimo at West View in New Delhi’s ITC Maurya. The restaurant is the new avatar of one of my favourite five-star restaurants, West View. Ottimo is the ITC chain’s Italian restaurant, thriving in Bangalore and Chennai. ITC wanted to bring it to Delhi, but didn’t wish to do away with West View, which has a loyal clientele. So it merged the two. Ottimo at West View offers the cuisine that West View is known for –– especially its cold cuts and grilled food –– and a whole new array of Italian dishes.

It’s also Italian with a difference, as I learnt last week. The chef –– Greco Vittorio –– is a man who is passionate about Italian food and keen to push the envelope. Not so much that the food changes its character, but to the extent that it gives you an interesting after taste, and something to think about. He is not into fusion food, the chef stresses but he certainly likes to tweak food in a way that makes you say, Aah!

The evening took off with a red hot pizza –– basil marinated chicken breast, smoked mozzarella and sundried tomatoes, onions and chillies ––eaten in the open-air deck. The soup that followed, parmesan soup with dried olive powder, once we had moved inside to the newly revamped restaurant was rich and invigorating. I moved from one dish to another, and thought that a creative artist lived within Chef Vittorio.

Take for instance, the parmesan eggplant dish, parmigiana. His version –– parmigiana rivisitata con olio al carbone, is a delight. The eggplant comes with a parmesan mousse, parmesan chips and charcoal-infused olive oil. The eggplant is juicy, yet firm, the cheese is strong and gritty, and the final result is different from, and I would say superior to, what we’ve eaten before. That’s because the chef uses some excellent extra virgin olive to prepare this dish. And the right kind of olive oil makes all the difference to a dish.

Or take the ravioli, which is a much loved Italian dish of dumplings with a filling served in a pasta sauce. Chef Vittorio has given the dish a whole new spirit by turning each dumpling into twin dumplings. “I thought, why should it not have two kinds of fillings,” says the chef. Indeed, why? I had the double stuffed ravioli with wild mushrooms and ricotta and truffle, and enjoyed every bite of it.

Readers know how fond I am of pork, so it shouldn’t surprise anybody that the dish that gave me the most satisfaction was a slow cooked pork belly with red wine, honey and crackling potatoes. The pork was soft and tender, the sauce sweet and piquant, and the potatoes were, well, crackling. There were a few dishes in between, but by then I had more than enough. I was certain I wouldn’t be able to take a bite of the dessert which included a tiramisu and a fruit flavoured pannacotta but found my resolve wavering after a spoonful.

As I said, it was a most enjoyable evening. The food was memorable, certainly, but equally interesting was the chef who conjured it up all for us. The conversation with Chef Vittorio actually whetted my appetite. He even taught me a new word in Italian. Ottimo means excellent. Well named, I say!

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Printable version | Apr 3, 2020 8:25:37 AM |

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