I recently saw an interview of Ritu Dalmia, where she said that when Diva had just opened ( a fair few years ago), some customers used to ask for dhaniye mirch ki chutney with some dishes! Thankfully, Italian cuisine has found a snug home in our city with many excellent restaurants serving pretty world class Italian fare.
Bella Cucina at Le Meridien, Gurgaon is not just an addition to this glittering landscape but a name to reckon with as it combines magnificent flavours, superb service at an affordable price (relative to other 5 star hotels and the quality of food).
I got to taste a menu curated by the brilliant Chef Amit Kumar, who is at the helm here and every single dish was a delight.
The meal began with a fantabulous cappuccino of mushroom with porcini brioche. This is how any soup should taste like. The mushroom was the hero through and through and every element added to the soup (including the truffle) was there to project the mushroom. Earthy, rich and when you dip (I could not resist) the buttery brioche into it- your taste buds thank you!
The next dish – seared yellow fish tuna – is accompanied by a poached egg and spinach hollandaise. These dishes are clearly where Chef Amit shows his innovative streak, his play on a classic flavours make eating here a very quirky and fun experience.
The compressed beetroot salad with goats cheese snow was marvellous. Chef Amit told us how he made the snow and you realise the amount of thought, preparation and preciseness he has put in this menu. In fact, right through the meal, it was revealed to us how complex “rustic”, simple dishes can be.
The next dish – my favourite – showcased this even more. The prawn ravioli was phenomenal and what made it so was that young tomato sauce. Chef Amit was kind enough to tell us that this seemingly run-of-the-mill tomato sauce was made by combining so many varieties of tomatoes that are chosen based on their taste and ripeness. It is detailing like this that makes Bella Cucina an absolute winner.
I had a couple of other main courses – the splendid spinach risotto and the chicken parmigiana. Each dish had a distinct flavour and the hand made capellini that came with the parmigiana was a treat.
The pizzas here are marvellous too. The dough is again very technical and that is what completely transforms the pizza. Pick any topping and I bet you will enjoy it as much.
Desserts were served and the classical tiramisu was good. There was nothing wrong with it per se but as a personal preference, I found it a little too creamy and lacking in bitterness that raw cacao powder gives it.
The espresso coffee mousse was simply amazing. There was an element of theatre in it but make no mistake it was decadence on a plate. Classic combinations like chocolate and raspberry when done well hit the spot like nothing else. Valrhona chocolate mousse in that beautifully tempered shell gives a completely different mouthfeel to any other chocolate dessert you have had.
There is a famous Italian saying – L’appetito Vien Mangiando– that literally translates into “appetite comes while eating”, is certainly true of a meal at Bella Cucina. Food, ambience and service amalgamate into a restaurant that is worthy of many, many repeat visits.