Cocktails and Carpaccio: bpb's guest Scouter checks out Colaba's new Italian restaurant.
Fatima Sham Mahimwala, our guest Scouter and Villa 39 reviewer is an avid foodie, and has been deeply involved with the food and beverage industry for many years. She has worked with The Tasting Room, Out of the Blue and most recently was the Director of Sales, India at The Leading Hotels of the World. She has a degree in hotel management from Switzerland and writes a food blog, which you can check out at www.fatima-theffactor.blogspot.com.
Villa 39, with its bright lights and fun bar area, has the potential to become one of Mumbai’s most buzzing new nightspots. The Italian restaurant which made its debut last night also has a more formal upstairs dining room, which looks rather clinical and slightly confused, where stark white walls and a lovely modern chandelier are perplexingly paired with heavily carved Indian panels.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
We began our meal with a batch of excellent cocktails, including Sangria, watermelon martinis and a wonderful Sgroppino: essentially an (overpriced) adult slush made fresh with lemon and sparkling wine. However, a drink the bartender billed as his “best” vodka cocktail and the house special came looking like baby food churned together with both the garnish and the taste missing!
Villa 39 features an ambitious menu, one that showcases a splendid selection of dishes and ingredients – just reading through it made us hungry. Fortunately, our starters of Carpaccio di Manzo (beef Carpaccio), Terrina di Mozzarella Caprese (tomato and mozzarella pesto), and Spiedini di Pollo (chicken skewers from the bar menu), were all terrific.
The Carpaccio, despite being extra lemony, was top notch and perfectly paired with rucola leaves and fresh pepper; chicken skewers were succulent, tender and melted in our mouths. Even our plain Jane tomato mozzarella starter packed a punch, with sweet tomatoes pillowed under soft cheese and finished off with pesto sauce.
A main of Pollo Sorpresa (surprise chicken) turned out to be quite a surprise indeed. Even though the dish was deep fried and had butter spurting out of it (always a good thing), I was personally quite disappointed by how tough and chewy the chicken was. The Lasagna di Vegetariane (vegetarian Lasagna), too, was unpleasantly dense and slightly over-salted. I was however, bowled over with the Gnocchi alla Piemontese (Gnocchi with sun dried tomatoes, spinach and gorgonzola): a wonderful mélange of flavor, texture and visual appeal. Unfortunately, the portion size of this dish was the most meager of our mains – only one fourth the size of the lasagna.
Our meal ended on a bitter rather than sweet note, with a chocolate fondant that I would definitely not recommend. It was spongy, chewy and tasted like rubber garnished with liquid chocolate.
Hopefully as it finds its pace, Villa 39 will flourish into a restaurant offering interesting food and great drinks, a fun place to hang with friends or impress a date at. Then, unlike now, the atmosphere will be looser, less intimidating, and we won’t be compelled to speak in whispers. Even as it stands, though, this is not a restaurant to be ignored: I suggest you swing by there the next time you’re in the mood for some fancy (and pricey) Italiano.
Getting there: Amarchand Mansion, 60 Madam Cama Road, Colaba, call 66573939, Rs 1,600 per person including drinks.
At bpb, we review restaurants anonymously and pay for our own meals
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