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PURELY PASTA



Pasta: the classic representative of Italian cousine

AFTER A year spent celebrating Italy in the best way possible — through food — The Park's signature Italian restaurant i.T-ALIA has launched into the grand finale. Earlier festivals have celebrated different ingredients, wines, cheeses, Italian galas... But the climax, predictably, raises a toast to the most classic representative of Italian cuisine: pasta. Over a period of 10 days, till the month-end, i.T-ALIA showcases a menu with 14 different kinds of pastas.

Beyond simple choices

Welcome to a world beyond the simple choices of fusilli-spaghetti-macaroni. At i.T-ALIA all this month, you can hover uncertainly, instead, over tagliolini, bucatini, tortellini, and linguini. Ace chefs Mandaar and Abhijeet Saha have stretched traditional definitions (and their imaginations) to incorporate even desserts into a strictly pasta-only menu. Explaining how the stuffed marzipan dish managed to wriggle in, Chef Mandaar explains: "Pasta is defined as something that has dough and the marzipan is essentially dough made out of almond flour." And so, voila! Marzipan morphs into a pasta that in turn becomes a dessert.

Chef Mandaar was taught to always leave guests just a little short of stuffed — you're not meant to slump back in your chair so full that you cannot eat another morsel. Instead, you're meant to be left with just a little space in your stomach. This philosophy is dutifully adhered to while conceiving i.T-ALIA's menus. Understated and elegant, dishes tease the taste buds and allow a peek into the best from Italy without overwhelming.

The rigatoni with four mushrooms and fourcheese sauce drew out the tender, luscious mushrooms demonstrating ably how mushrooms well done are an invaluable element to an Italian meal.

The straw and hay tagliolini with artichokes and pecorino had the signature i.T-ALIA style: restrained and low-key, but so mild that it didn't impress. The tagliolini itself is an unusual pasta: tangled and in noodle form, goaded to life by artichokes and the pecorino.

The roast pumpkin and lemon panzotti with walnut cream sauce is a more lively, engaging dish. Strong and firm, it's laced with a hint of goat cheese. The wholewheat fusilli with asparagus, spinach and mascarpone is a return to expectations. Here the chefs serve up a fairly traditional pasta dish, playing it safe with fusilli but introducing the crispness of asparagus to break what is an otherwise mellow dish.

The desserts also use pastas. We had the marzipan tortellini which stuffed marzipan with figs, pistachios and taleggio cheese. Countering what might have become the cloying sweetness originating from marzipan were the energetic accompanying sauces: a tangy orange sauce and a rich, sensuous berry sauce.

The other pick was the ricotta and candied peel ravioli with honey. Crisp and light, this dessert encapsulated the essence of any menu at i.T-ALIA and makes an especially fitting finish to this festival.

Each pasta averages Rs. 300 and this festival. Amo l'Italia (I love Italy), bringing an end to the year-end celebrations, is on till March 31.

Ambience: Five-star
Service: Five-star
Wallet factor: Averaging at Rs. 300 for each pasta
Speciality: Pastas, needless to say

HEMANGINI GUPTA

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