The Old Country is made up of several distinct regions, each with its own identity and exports. But there’s something special about Emilia-Romagna, perhaps due to the things that have come out of this North Italian province. It was here that Ferrari and Lamborghini first purred and where Balsamic Vinegar was first aged, bottled and sold. It is the home of Parma and Parmesan (among a slew of other meats and cheeses) as well as the birthplace of Giuseppe Verdi. And now, you don’t need a Schengen visa to get a taste of the place, just head to the spanking new Artusi in G.K.-II.
The restaurant is a lovely space, but we shall refrain from describing it in the interest of brevity. Suffice to say, it is fit for a date, engagement or whatever occasion you have cause to celebrate. Armed with both the owners and the executive chef from Emilia-Romagna, Artusi boasts of a comprehensive menu with a majority of the dishes from that region. We leave ourselves entirely to the mercy of the management, to our mutual satisfaction.
First up is a Tomino cheese roundel, slightly melted, and served with a bruschetta and sauteed wild mushrooms. The dish is drenched with truffle-oil, making it into an earthy, voluptuous affair. In contrast, there is the Calamari Fritti, a deep-fried shoal of squid nestled among a forest of rocket-leaves, drizzled with balsamic vinegar, invalidating fears of global warming, at least in the condiment community. The calamari itself is superlative summer-fare: springy and well-seasoned with a batter that remains thick without getting heavy, and a couple of accompanying dips that are spot-on.
For the pasta course, we have the Tagliolino Gamberi e Limone, which is as light and as well-choreographed as a summer concert, with a cast — comprising prawns, butter, herbs and grated lemon zest — that dances on tiptoes across a stage set by the al dente noodle-like tagliolino. This citrine confection serves as a perfect prelude to our weighty mains, the Filettino de Maiale. The imported pork fillet, cooked medium-well done, comes swathed in bacon rashers and, rather aptly, laurel leaves, given that it’s fit for a king, er, Caesar.
For dessert, we’re guided to the Panna Cotta, Fichi e Mandorle (baked custard with figs and almonds). That old adage, “the proof is in the pudding”, could be an axiom at Artusi. So, the panna cotta: imagine an ambrosial cloud of baked custard with a crust of dark and decadent caramel and slivered almonds — accented with nectarous burnt figs — each bite of it is a play of textures, soft custard, crunchy almonds, liquid caramel and yielding figs. Call it your stairway to heaven or a highway to the other place. All we know is that the panna cotta is out of this world.
Meal for two: Rs 3,500 (inclusive continued…