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Delhi Wine Club
Fratelli dance Tarantella at La Tagliatella

Posted: Monday, 01 July 2013 14:08

DWC Dinner: Fratelli dance Tarantella at La Tagliatella

July 01: The Fratelli wine dinner at La Tagliatella, the recently opened trattoria at the Ambience Mall in Vasant Kunj, put every member of the Delhi Wine Club in such a cheerful mood that with appropriate music, the members would have been dancing the Tarantella, a well-known traditional Italian Folk dance, writes Subhash Arora who could hear the music through the evening with the delicious Italianesque food, wines and bonhomie with a service that excelled.

Photos By:: Adil Arora

Click For Large ViewAs you enter La Tagliatella Restaurant, spread over two floors in the Ambience Mall in Vasant Kunj, from the ground floor entrance, you are impressed by a huge oven staring at you. Snehal Kulshreshtha, the CEO of the Amrest group that owns La Tagliatella chain of restaurants globally, welcomes the guests personally and stresses that the venue and two similar restaurants in Bangalore are not franchised out but company owned. One has a premonition that a delicious evening is ahead of you when he tells you that this is a Maserati of all ovens – electric but giving the same effect as a wood-fired oven and would be used for many of the dishes in the evening.

Click For Large ViewThe well-chilled Chenin Blanc from Fratelli was a decent welcome drink with floral aromas and crisp acidity, a mineral touch that indicated it has seen some wood - perhaps a 2nd or 3rd pass barrique for a couple of months. While we were debating if it really was so, small, square pieces of pizza Tartufo e Funghi arrived, and the wine became even tastier. There was an aroma of porcini and whiff of truffle oil that was seductive enough for me to devour several pieces as I kept getting refills. Members also seemed to love the mini pizza spinaci e pinoli. It was nice and crusty but failed to kindle in me the love for spinach one more time despite the pine nuts that made it crunchy and flavourful. Chicken brochette were tender and juicy, but altered their flavour with the delicious sauce, making the food and wine match a wee bit challenging.  

I felt I could eat the mushroom pizza which I felt had a sensual presence of porcini beside the truffle oil till we came upstairs to the first floor portion that opens into the Mall. The Insalata di Mozzarella Gratinata and Chicken Caesars salad were both welcome healthy dishes that matched my favourite Fratelli Chardonnay but it was love all over again with the two variants of carb-high pane-breads encrusted with pomodori (tomatoes)and chopped olives - off hand, I could not remember any other place where I have had better breads.

The two pastas-one with green pesto sauce and the other- Mezza Luna with Quattro Formaggi, were excellent. The Mezza Luna was richer because of the sinful, yummy (4 types of) cheese sauce and perhaps brought out the best in the Fratelli Shiraz Rose which seemed to have come from behind and stolen the limelight. By this time the members were in a great, cheerful mood and we added to the bonhomie by giving away a couple of Rose bottles based on an impromptu quiz, won by Ranjit Gupta and later by Subhash Aggarwal.

Click For Large ViewHow can one have an evening in a trattoria or a pizzeria without the pizza in its true form? Cinque Funghi (veg) and Tagliatella are the signature pizzas of the place and we had a bit of both with the next best thing to Chianti Classico - Fratelli Sangiovese, served cool at a perfect 16°C.

I loved my Scallopine de Pollo with Reggio Emilia as the main course and Verdure alla Griglia-grilled green vegetable served to vegetarians had a good company with Sette 2009 - the age-worthy top-blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese that fetches the highest price for Indian wine at $52 at the Duty Free shop at the IGI Airport. It was already drinking well but will age and taste better for at least 3-5 years more. However,  a little tweaking in the serving temperature would have made the wine shine even more. Sette being a full bodied red would be perfect at 18-20°C. This means that apart from the decanting for 30-60 minutes to allow it to breathe, it needed some more time in the chiller.

I am sure our member Christine Sharma and a couple of guests who came to the club dinner for the first time and won a bottle each of Sette in the lucky draw, won’t be complaining. We forgot to tell them that this was not a standard practice and we go crazy only at times to add to the fun for the evening.

Click For Large ViewA few people fighting the battle of the bulge left after the lucky draw and before the dessert could be served. Coppa fior di Latte and Mini Panna Cotta were sweet to the ears and sinfully delicious on the palate; the Tartufi Petit Fours even more enchanting. But Snehal Kulshreshtha is so smitten with the coffee they serve that he was insistent that members taste coffee as the parting shot. I am glad I ordered a Macchiato-a grand finale for a great evening.

What caught everyone by surprise, besides the never-ending, well matched food and wine was the soulful and seamless service by the serving staff. We are always slightly wary of service in stand-alone restaurants that manage excellent chefs but lack finesse when it comes to service, especially the wine. The way the exuberant staff was serving (hopefully, it was not Click For Large Viewbecause the company CEO and the COO were there from Mumbai) and smiling throughout the evening, made people leave with a wider smile. The perfect stemware for wines did not go un-noticed by the hawk eyes of the discerning members either.

Alfresco dining when the weather permits, will be an added feature of the restaurant, which would bring cheers to the gourmets and gourmands alike. The portions are large and sharing is possible. What many people didn’t know was that most of the ingredients are imported (98%, says Snehal)-this would have been obvious with the first bit of the pizza Tartufo e Funghi - I am already missing its seductive aromas and the perfect match with Fratelli Chenin Blanc. My one regret was I did not try it with Chardonnay; I believe it would make an excellent pair as well and for those who believe in food pairing, the Sangiovese would have done fine because of mushrooms but would not have been as exciting for me.

What’s in a name

Despite the delicious food, if you asked an Italian if this was an Italian Restaurant, he might snigger. As a helpful Tuscan reader of delWine already pointed out looking at the Pommodoro Toscana Tile Mural on our FB Post commented, there is no such thing as Pommodoro Toscana. The restaurant would have you believe that the design had been inspired by the Tuscan Tomato (Pomodoro) only and ‘Pomodoro’ is not misspelled. Incidentally, ‘Toscana Pomodoro’ is a tomato processing co-operative in Livorno on the Tuscan coast.

The name of the restaurant is equally confusing. Whereas the restaurant by its own admission is more than a trattoria – perhaps the proper modern categorization would be casual fine dining, the name of pizzerie (plural of pizzeria-a pizza parlour or a pizza shop) might not do justice to the style of food served. ‘Ristoranti ‘(restaurants) alone would have been fine, lurking around on the signage outside the Ristorante.

Click For Large ViewLa Tagliatella (The Noodle) does sound musical. But it would make the stomach of an Italian turn on learning that it is already being tagged as ‘Tag’! Perhaps the typical American penchant of abbreviating names may be responsible but another signage in Hindi reading TAG-LIYA- TELL-AA says it all. Only time will tell whether Tagliatella would make you want to dance the Tarantella or meekly slide as La Tag and expose the non-Italian lineage of the company.

Fortunately, those are minor things that you might debate along with topics like the General Elections 2014 and the next scam fermenting somewhere and ready to be uncorked when you have a hearty meal with a glass or two of Fratelli wine. The wine prices are reasonable and half-bottles 375 mL are available-enough for two but could be polished off by one person without feeling too guilty.

You will enjoy a visit to La Tagliatella (even if it is La Tag for you) where, as the signage reads- dove mangiare é un piacere  (where eating is a pleasure). But bere (drinking) a glass of wine too would double that pleasure!

Subhash Arora

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Tags: Fratelli, La Tagliatella


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