savour true italian in Delhi
Bella Cucina- home to authentic Italian and decadent luxury!!
Let’s go out for Italian today…but what do we end up ordering every time, the same old pizzas and pastas which have become a niche for all things Italian!!! Let me stop you right there and enlighten you by mentioning something wonderful, that Italian cuisine has a lot more to offer than just your typical P’s, and though there are a plethora of restaurants and cafés serving Italian cuisine, I’d highly recommend this beautiful, casual fine-dining restaurant, Bella Cucina at Le Meridien, Gurgaon for an hands down authentic Italian experience with Chef Amit Kumar’s own spectacular gourmet spin and technical twist on it. Influenced by the Northern and Central regions of Italy, Chef’s own elucidation of Salads, certain dishes & Desserts will both surprise and delight you.
La Riviera was a star Mediterranean restaurant at the erstwhile Pullman hotel in Gurgaon that specialised in French cuisine. Pullman was rechristened Le Meridien in March, 2015 and only had the coffee shop, Latest Recipe, functional there for the last decade or so without any specialty restaurant. Finally, under the new Executive Chef Suprabhath Roy, proficiently assisted by Head Chef Amit Kumar, the specialty Italian restaurant Bella Cucina started few weeks ago in the same space, overlooking the dazzling I-Kandy.
Bella Cucina which is Italian for “beautiful kitchen”, with its pristine creamy sandstone & travertine marble finish soothing ambience with grand chandeliers, opulent colourful leather seating, 3 PDRs (Personal Dining Rooms) and playful coming together of artistic pieces will transport you straight to the regions of Italy – its culture & cuisine. The name Bella Cucina stands true to its meaning, beautiful kitchen, wherein the imported Molteni has been incorporated. A legend in premium stoves, Molteni sits in the heart of most renowned restaurants in the world and is born into ancient craftsmanship, wisdom and detail. No two Moltenis are the same and the one in Bella Cucina is especially crafted according to Chef’s needs.
To rejoice the opening of Bella Cucina over Italian wine and dine, we were invited to enjoy an array of specially crafted dishes by Head Chef Amit Kumar, who runs the show at this Italian delight, to wow us with his quirky and awe inspiring twists and spins!! Executive Chef Suprabhath Roy was gracious enough to give us company and discreetly supervise the entire journey!! And of course the whole experience was extra delightful due to the ever so graceful, fun and fabulous company of Anadita Singh, Marketing and PR Head.
What’s on the table???
Seduction: passion fruit, strawberry puree, fresh pineapple juice and soda made a delicious, sweet and tangy, refreshingly light mocktail and was a perfect thirst quencher.
Naughty apple: this lovely concoction was an amalgamation of vanilla ice cream, peach puree and apple juice with thinly sliced green apple adorning the perfectly balanced sweet preparation.
And of course, the handsome bottle of Pinot Grigio, Ramato, 2011, Tommast, Viticoltori… (And yes that’s the complete name of this beautiful wine), was especially opened for us!!! This is an intensely flavourful pinot grigio from the family-owned Tommasi Winery in the Veneto region of north-eastern Italy. This Rose wine has the concentrated flavours of ripe pear, apple and grapefruit zest with flinty mineral highlights. It’s round and intense in the mouth, with zesty acidity to keep the flavours bright and lingering.
Cappuccino of mushroom: we started the journey with cappuccino, and no, it’s not your normal coffee, it’s rather a wicked take on the same by Chef Amit, who brews up a creamy, frothy portion of mushroom soup comprising of Portobello, porcini and button mushrooms. The warm, earthy mushrooms when blended together pack such a flavourful punch, that you can’t help but love this beauty. Sprinkled with shreds of truffle and served with a crispy yet buttery porcini brioche loaf, this promises a scrumptious journey!!
Compressed beetroot salad: perfectly cooked, tender and glistening spheres of beetroot marinated with red wine and vinegar, with colourful grapefruits, fresh baby arugula served on a contrasting black platter, and jazzed up with Chef Amit’s own creation, goat cheese snow, this simple yet elegant salad is a must try.
Smoked chicken salad: this beautifully plated dish is a quirky spin on the regular smoked chicken salad. Juicy and tender juliennes of smoked chicken, micro greens, thinly sliced spheres of radish, crispy filo cigars filled with creamy avocado mousse styled over bright gelatinous cucumber gel sums up this salad.
Caesar salad: yet again Chef Amit glorifies this classic salad by creatively crafting a well of lush green lettuce, rocket leaves and micro greens, with thin generous shavings of parmesan, a bright sunny yolky centre and sexed it up with tiny crispy bacon bits!!!
Seared yellow fin tuna: A perfect, half-circle mound of creamy spinach hollandaise enclosed an oozing, perfectly poached egg served with a jar of perfectly seared and smoked tuna strips. Needless to say, the riot of flavours was exquisite.
Spinach and nuts ravioli: this is a must have dish, especially for the vegetarians. The ravioli was cooked al dente and housed inside it creamy spinach coiled with crunchy pine nuts and doused in an even creamier and enjoyable morel mushroom sauce.
Prawn ravioli: this perfectly hand rolled ravioli held pouched within an explosion of tart, juicy and crunchy prawn meat , with young tomato sauce, lots of basil, splashes of lemon juice and of course, and the best bit is that this particular delicacy was covered with bisque foam, which simply added to the overall texture of the dish.
Australian lamb rack: sous vide lamb, well-cooked hunk of lamb laid on mounds of creamy spinach and red wine jus. The meat was reasonably tender, the sauce was incredibly tasty and the overall taste was definitely overshadowed by the luscious red wine jus, served with a slice of crispy, flaky eggplant tart.
Chilean sea bass: The immaculately cooked sea bass was bathed in a pool of smooth broccoli puree and the most flavourful coriander vanilla sauce. The skin was crispy, the sea bass flaky and succulent, served alongside a garlic potato flan, topped with tangy cherry tomatoes complemented this elegant offering to perfection.
Classic tiramisu: airy chocolate cake drenched in Kahlua, coffee liqueur, and topped with creamy mascarpone cheese, dusted with unsweetened cocoa was a decent dessert.
Dropped lemon tart: thick sweet pasty tart filled with tangy lemon curd that kicks you right in your taste buds, dusted with icing sugar and served with sweet vanilla sauce and citrusy berry coulis was one hell of a lemon tart.
Espresso coffee mousse: Coming to the dessert end of our epicurean gamut, we were presented with a marvellously appealing-looking solid chocolate ball. Bringing our spoons close, we were ready to pounce! A pretty, rotund chocolate ball was smashed open right in front of us, only to reveal a gooey core of chocolate mousse flavoured with hefty doses of espresso studded with little choco balls, over an artistic splatter of raspberry coulis. *bliss*
About the chefs:
Le Meridien Gurgaon appointed Suprabhath Roy Chowdhury as the new Executive Chef for its 285 room property at MG Road, Delhi-Gurgaon border. Roy joins Le Meridien Gurgaon after a successful stint with Eros Hotel managed by Hilton, Nehru Place, New Delhi. His perfect sense of culinary expertise comes from the fact that he has worked in most renowned kitchens in India, abroad and has grown up in the foodie city of Lucknow, feasting on the kebab parathas and pulaos in its by lanes and Bengali food cooked at home.
Prior to this, Chef Suprabhat has been credited with conceptualising and opening the multi award winning restaurant, The Pink Poppadom at the Hyatt Bangalore where he was the Executive Chef. He has also been the Chef de Cuisine at Nina, the award winning fusion restaurant with an Indo-European concept menu at the One and Only Royal Mirage, Dubai. With his extraordinary style & vision he will spearhead the talented & passionate team of Chefs at Le Meridien Gurgaon.
Chef Amit Kumar, the young man in charge of Bella Cucina, is all of 29 and is proud to say that he is from East Champaran in Bihar. My excitement stems from the fact that the young man steering it is neither Italian, nor has he ever been to Italy, yet, he has put together a menu – after two years of research – which I am confident is going to earn him a legion of fans.
He puts his heart and soul into cooking.
It was his good fortune to be mentored by two of the industry’s most brilliant young chefs – Ravitej Nath at the Trident Gurgaon and Tanveer Kwatra, who opened the briefly successful La Riviera restaurant at the Pullman, which was the previous avatar of Le Meridien Gurgaon. Both men are masters of their profession, and Amit has proved to be a good learner. At Bella Cucina, he not only serves delicious food, but also presents them with a sense of drama and his preparations are sure to please all your senses and transport you to food heaven.