Penne, peppers and pizza

Warm interiors, a menu that’s expansive yet celebrates basic flavours and a reputation to live up to. That’s the newly-opened The Pasta Bar Veneto for you. The eatery is a franchisee of the famous Chennai-based chain.

I start by ordering a creamy mushroom soup. It arrives soon enough, before I can take in the interesting black board on the wall and the menu card, both of which burst with trivia about Italy. The soup is thick, fragrant and creamy, and goes well with garlic bread. Most importantly, there are tiny bits of mushroom to bite into.

The minestrone soup is a vegetable lover’s delight — tender yet crisp carrot, zucchini, broad beans, capsicum, spaghetti and other veggies do a tango in this fiery soup.

Next up is cheese garlic bread and a lovely garlicky bruschetta redolent of olive oil and basil. If you love ricotta, check out the mozzarella ricotta fingers, a deep-fried chewy delight. In the non-veg section, they serve Italian chicken wings, ham and tomato crostini, polpette lamb and more.

The chain is known for its pasta, and so, next up is the primavera al panna with multi-coloured fusilli. The fusilli, cooked just right, comes slathered with a flavourful sauce, and loaded with roasted vegetables, chewy sun dried tomatoes, zucchini and a drizzling of parmesan cheese.

Indian twist

For those who love Italian but also their curry, there’s malai curry di verdure, pasta with a base of veggies cooked with cashew cream and Indian spices.

For lovers of red sauce, there’s pomodoro e mozzarella, a heady combination of tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella, chunks of fresh tomato, olives and olive oil. Lasagna di verdure, a baked dish with veggies, zucchini, lasagna and tomato sauce and heady with cream, is a must-try. So is verdure al forno, a baked, peppery delight with veggies, bell peppers and more. The baked fish, on a bed of spinach in cheese and herb sauce, is succulent.

Succulent bell peppers

In the grills section, there’s verdure alla griglia, bell peppers, onion, tomato, mushroom and paneer cooked in a skewer with a drizzling of tomato sauce.

The paneer is a bit hard, but the juicy, succulent bell peppers more than make up for it. A little more mushroom would be welcome too. The grilled veggies are served with a creamy mashed potato.

The crispy grilled veg and cheese sandwich is an ode to mayo. It bursts with good health — there’s lettuce, peppers, cucumber and more.

There’s also something called piadina, which resembles a stuffed roti. Only, the stuffing is Italian, with cheese, basil and greens.

In pizza, the diavolo, a thin crust pizza with roasted vegetables, tomato chunks, bell peppers and olives, is crispy and light. The simple margherita impresses too.

You can round off the meal with a range of coffees, a creamy hot chocolate or shakes (the Oreo and brownie shakes come highly recommended), or dig into a delectable mud pie — ice cream encased in chocolaty pastry.

Time for trivia. Did you know that when a famous fast food outlet opened in Rome in 1986, purists gave away free spaghetti to remind everyone of their culinary heritage and tell them to stick to native food?

The restaurant at Race Course is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. A meal for two approximately costs Rs. 600. Call 0422-2224022/3022 for reservations.

Source : The Hindu

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