The Italian connection
Mediterranean seems to be latest cool word to bandy around, but few live up to their claims including FresCo, Pune's newest entrant. It however dishes out good Italian fare
On a Sunday night, Amanora is buzzing (finally). Perhaps, it was the bike show or perhaps it was just an enthusiastic weekend crowd, for the first time we saw some vibrancy in the mall. And FresCo was right in the middle of the action. Situated in what is known as the Oasis area or the space between the various blocks, the restaurant has the perfect visibility factor going for it.
Walk in and you will be charmed. Done up in white and bright blue with wooden tables and cushioned benches, it resembles a chic European café. They have tried to create an individual bar area with lower tables where you can chill with a drink (they don’t serve liquor yet but they intend to). We loved the fact that this is a nice bright contemporary restaurant yet with a lot of character.
Though they claim to serve Mediterranean fare and even have a map right at the start of the menu depicting which countries comprise the Mediterranean region, don’t feel let down by its actual limitations. The menu’s delicious food images are a delight to look at even as you try to concentrate on the list itself. But this is a menu that doesn’t require any concentration. It’s just your regular Italian menu, with a few non-Italian (read Mediterranean) tokenistic mentions from Turkey, Greece and Spain.
Well, we shall stick to the predominant offerings here for a fair review. We began with a Watermelon and Mint cooler (Rs 150) which wasn’t on the menu since they don’t have a bar menu yet. However, it was very refreshing. We needed to ask for ice since it was served almost at room temperature but apart from that, the combination of fresh watermelon chunks in cranberry juice spiked with mint, did a great job at whetting the appetite on a warm, sultry evening.
When they began serving the bread basket they didn’t offer butter or condiments but when we requested for butter, we were promptly served. Our starters, the Barbeque Chicken Wings (Rs 275), were served with a bowl of fresh salsa. The condiment’s vigour completely uplifted the chicken wings.
Next, we chose the Rustica (Rs 375), a crisp bacon and chicken pizza. The smoked chicken complimented the pork bacon to perfection, while the sprinkling of spinach added a green touch to the thin-crust base. At a 10-inch size, this could be a whole meal in itself.
For the mains, we opted for a Spinach and Ricotta Lasagna Fiorentina (Rs 325). It was served rather interestingly. The spinach and ricotta layered lasagna sheets sat pretty in a bowlful of traditional tomato base. Cut into a piece of the lasagna and while it may seem a tad dry for the first bite, gradually the two come together. We appreciated the fact that we could actually taste our vegetable, cheese and pasta, all distinctly, instead of them being submerged in the sauce, as it’s known to happen.
The service deserves special mention. Our servers may have been a bit confused and disoriented but their politeness and willingness to go back and clarify, was completely endearing. FresCo has played safe with the choice of cuisine and the flavour of the food. Now, they intend to come out with a lunch and dinner buffet. Watch this space for more.
Service: almost perfect
At: Oasis, East Block, Amanora, opposite Magarpatta.