Soho House Mumbai's chef Luca D'Amora is all set to serve classic Italian dishes
Gnocchi without potato and tiramisu in a tumbler, Ceccino's dishes out some honest Italian classic surprises
Soho House Mumbai, the first in Asia and 23rd in the world, is tastefully designed, setting off a time warp of a warm and inviting vintage era. Walk in through the glass door and Allis, the café and reception area, greets us with colourful lamp shades, warm rugs, potted plants and soothing jazz tunes. The café is designed like an open kitchen, with white panelling, timber herringbone floor, Indian textiles touches and vintage rattan furniture. Soho House Mumbai has a well-curated art programme with 200 works spread across the 11 floors. The collection also houses a Subodh Gupta's installation on the eighth floor.
The concept of home-away-from-home and an inclusive creative community is retained across. After a quick tour, we walk into Cecconi, the 150-seater Italian restaurant led by chef Luca D'Amora, that opens to the public this Wednesday. Yellow light from the large chandeliers falls on the warm timber and teal green and an L-shaped bar which has leather banquettes, the outdoors is a beach-facing casual space with rattan chairs, comfy pillows, decorated with large-potted plants all under wooden crisscross beams. Originating in Venice, Cecconi's Mumbai joins sister restaurants in London, New York, Miami, West Hollywood, Istanbul, Barcelona, Berlin and Amsterdam.
Head chef Luca D'Amora sports Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde tattoos on each forearm. Exuding an easy-going persona, he talks about growing up in Ercolano, Naples, where his home was stone's throw from the beach.
"While mom cooked very well, my father was our Sunday chef. We'd go to the market to get fish and meat, and come back and make his famous fish soup. We'd add five to six different fish, make a broth from the bones and garnish it with parsley, salt, tomato, garlic and a homemade chilli olive oil," says D'Amora, who has worked with the father of Italian cuisine Gualtiero Marchesi and later Michelin-starred chef Moreno Cedroni, followed by stints at Bangkok and Chennai. The menu has classic Italian dishes. Ravioli from Bologna, gnocchi from Naples and risotto from Milan. "My idea for Mumbai are classic preparations and pizza without black olives please!" he adds.
The food is honest with D'Amora playing to his strengths, evident by the gnocchi ala Romana vegetarian that replaces sticky potatoes with semolina and comes drunk in a
four-cheese sauce — Parmesan, pecorino gorgonzola and a garnish of fried sage.
The beetroot tartar has mini cubes of oven-roasted beetroot stacked on a bed of cashew nut hummus and drenched in a tart apple vinegar. Dressed with flowers and celery, the finely chopped pistachio tie the dish together. The drinks menu needs a shot in the arm. Americano is the only cocktail of Campari, sweet vermouth, soda and orange that is palatable. The Aperol spritz is a flat, overtly sweeter version of the much-loved sundowner champagne bubbly classic.
Chef Luca D'Amora
We turn our attention to the lobster spaghetti with mushy cherry tomatoes that comes gently floating in a creamy bisque. We take a spoonful of the French broth made from fish bones, which has been treated to Thai chillies. The kick from the chillies clears out our cheesy palate and takes us on a delicious seafood ride. The pizza, made in Italian flour, though is a let-down. The thick corners are slightly burnt, the sauce needs seasoning and the overall texture is too chewy.
The calamari has a unique mayo-aioli combination spiked with a sour gremolata lemon skin zest. We would have wiped that dip clean, had we not been calorie conscience. Loca aces the dessert, first with indulgent profiroles pregnant with a pistachio ice cream and dripping with a dark, dense hot chocolate sauce. The tiramisu comes not in a small cup, or a small serve but a tumbler glass, filled to the brim with mascarpone cream, pockets of coffee soaked savouardi (ladyfinger) and dusted with cocoa. This is one Italian job done well.
Pics/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
At: Cecconi's Mumbai, Soho House Mumbai, 16, Juhu Tara Road, Santacruz West
Timings: 6 pm to 1 am (Monday-Friday); 11 am-1 am (Saturday) and 11 am to 9 pm (Sunday)
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