A taste of summer: Restaurants reopen with renewed vigour and bold new flavours


As Al Pacino walks around Sicilian villages with his men, the audience gets a visual treat of the quaint little place that it is. A walk into Shangri-La’s Sorrento in the national capital would give a deeper dive than just a visual tour of Italy—an Italian treat for taste buds.

A map tracing the boundaries of Italy adorns the table of Sorrento, understandably named after the town of southern Italy. When one steps into the mini-Italy in the heart of Shangri-La, the aroma of Italian food takes over and transports one to the country.

Their latest offering is from Godfather’s own country, Sicily, as the restaurant has a newly-introduced Sicilian menu. Flavours of Sicily, tossed together with the local ingredients, across a variety of salads, soups, pizza and pasta is what the affair is all about.

The menu includes authentic Sicilian delicacies such as tuna carpaccio, Sfincione—the Sicilian style pizza, risotto ai fruitti di mare with prawn, wild scallop, calamari, rock lobster and parsley. The main course offers roast cod fillet with capers, grilled yellowfin tuna and duck breast with saffron risotto. One of the most popular Sicilian desserts, Sicilian cannoli, is a befitting sugary treat to round up the meal.

Sorrento’s executive chef Gagandeep Singh Sawhney says the response the restaurant has been getting post-pandemic is overwhelming. “When we think about Sorrento, we think about authentic Italian food. We have tried to get our taste very close to what we get in Italy. Many of our food products are sourced from our vendors in Italy to keep the taste intact.” This rings true. While many pizza makers in the country Indianise the taste to the likings of the crowd here, Sorrento promises Italian authenticity. “Most of our dishes are from southern Italy, but in order to cover the entire country, we have introduced dishes from all over the country as well,” the chef adds. His specialty is pasta and he enjoys cooking various versions of it.

But has Delhi developed a liking for authentic Italian food? The chef answers, “Initially for Delhi, Italian food meant pizza and pasta. There were a few challenges at first when we introduced authentic Italian food to Delhi people, but we are getting there slowly. We get a lot of orders for home delivery as well. People are open to trying out new things ever since the pandemic has struck.”

What if you could eat pizzas and still be healthy? What if you could gulp down shakes and humble portions of brownies and not gain weight? The pandemic has surely changed the way we eat and this fact reflects in the recently reopened Soul Pantry, the modern restaurant of Andaz Delhi. The restaurant that opened on March 8 this year after the pandemic with an all-women’s team plans to feed its visitors a variety of cuisines, but all with a healthy twist.

Be it the molten burrata or smokey paneer or creamy mushroom flatbread, one can choose from a variety of options. Its salad bowls are not bland and boring, but fulfilling and packed with flavour. Its keto chocolate and avocado brownie is a treat for the health-conscious craving a sugar rush. Whatever you pick from their menu, it is sure to give a boost of nutrition but not without proving to be a treat for the tastebuds.

The restaurant was first opened to the public in 2019 shortly before the world entered the two devastating years of the pandemic. Then, Soul Pantry was about forgotten grains of India and the chefs had meticulously experimented to curate a menu from the lesser-known Indian grains. As preferences and tastes changed in two years and a shift towards healthy eating became the primary focus, chefs of Soul Pantry reinvented the menu as well to cater to the post-pandemic demand.Shyantika Guha, the head chef at Soul Pantry, shares that their main concept was ‘soulful and mindful eating’ and they got a lot of feedback for including pizzas. That is when they started experimenting with healthy doughs.

“We experimented on dough for five-six days. I used to knead different doughs every day during the conceptualisation process,” she shares, adding, “Then we included open sandwiches since they are trending and look very Instagrammable. A lot of working people step into the restaurant to grab a quick lunch full of nutrition at Soul Pantry and it has been picking up well,” adds Guha, explaining that people want to eat food that looks picturesque for Instagram and has small and healthy portions.

The microgreens, cherry tomatoes, and seeds used in salads are all grown in-house at Andaz and used fresh. In the fermentation process is kimchi for Korean food lovers and it is something that will be incorporated in the menu in the coming months, reveals Guha.

At Perbacco, the authentic Italian fine-dining restaurant at The Lodhi in the national capital, Italian Michelin-star chef Adriano Baldassarre has recreated the magic of ‘dolce vita’. The tangy beetroot tartare with a sweet beetroot sorbet is a summery start to the meal, which progresses to hearty pizzas, pastas, creamy risottos, aromatic sauces and delicate desserts like the Delizia al limon.

Keeping it simple is his take on Italian food, and his menu reflects authentic Italian flavours, making the most of summer vegetables like tomatoes and eggplant. Combined with indulgent Italian cheese and herbs, the result is a mix of both fresh and hearty dishes.

Michelin-star chef Yves Mattagne brought some excitement to Mumbai and Delhi this week as he cooked at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai and Taj Mahal Hotel in Delhi. The highly acclaimed and awarded chef who specialises in seafood presentations, contemporary world cuisine and eclectic gastronomical experiences, showcased signature flavours from La Villa Lorraine, Brussels, paired with a handpicked selection of beverages.

And even though the chef is no fan of vegetarian food, the no-meat dishes were worth raving about. Watermelon paired with pickled onions, yuzu, wasabi and daikon is a flavour bomb. Burned avocado with coconut milk, fermented jalapenos, red shiso, cucumber and granny apples says summer like nothing else. The jumbo prawns are flamed with single malt whiskey on the table, creating drama in the dining room, and paired with truffle, asparagus and ratte potato make for a hearty dish. Scallops, smoked eel, oyster maki and caviar in the seven-course menu makes for an indulgent meal. Diners can look forward to more appearances by the chef at the Taj hotels in the coming months.