Party time to mark debut of Italian Star Chef

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 4.06.11
  •  
Gianfranco Chiarini
(From top) The Casa Toscana entrance near Menoka cinema; bruschetta platters; an exotic selection of desserts; bread rolls and varieties of cheese in the Cheese Room

Wednesday evening had all the elements of a success party — great ITALIAN food, a feel-good ambience and merry guests. As Casa Toscana celebrated its launch party in association with t2, the verdict by the time the last dessert was downed was: Calcutta needed a place like this. Glimpses from the eventful evening…

I am so glad that the people were receptive. It was interesting and pleasing to see Calcuttans and expats enjoying the same food. The best compliment I received was from an attaché at the Italian embassy who said that seeing the pizza cut just a metre from him made him emotional and he felt he was back home.

 Chef Gianfranco Chiarini, an alumnus of Le Cordon Bleu Paris (said to be the world’s premier culinary arts institute) who has been with several Michelin-starred restaurants

on the menu

The spread included three sections — the cold and warm Monoporzioni finger-food (i.e. starters like bruschetta and pizzas), main course options like Tortellini and Pennette, and classic dessert items like tiramisu, panna cotta and mousse. On the side was an exhaustive cheese platter with Italian, French, Swiss and English varieties that came along with Tomato Confiture, Tropea Onion Marmalade and Locust Honey Truffles.

Our top picks

Bruschetta della casa alla Caprese (Bruschetta topped with Roma tomato cubes, basil, mozzarella and olives tossed in olive oil.)

Prosciutto, Pere e Grissini alla Modenese (Parma ham, pears and Grissini sticks drizzled with a balsamic vinegar and honey reduction.)

Pizza ai Funghi Trifolati (thin crispy pizza topped with mozzarella and mushrooms.)

Tortellini di Ricotta e Spinaci al Forno (Homemade Tortellini filled with ricotta cheese and spinach, tossed in a delicious parmesan cream sauce.)

Pennette all’arrabbiata (Small penne pasta sauteed in a spicy tomato, garlic and chilli sauce.)

Petto di Pollo al Gorgonzola e Noce, profumati al Timo fresco con patate rustiche (Marinated chicken breast, grilled and tossed in creamy gorgonzola cheese and walnut sauce perfumed with thyme.)

“This is a lovely place,” said Moon Moon Sen

Tiramisu Classico della

Casa Toscana (Mascarpone cream, layered with Espresso-flavoured biscotti and sprinkled with bitter cocoa.)

For some guests, the pleasure lay in the two-hour gastronomic journey that took them miles away to Italy. For others, it was the joy of an Italian restaurant opening less than a mile from home!

“I’m excited to be able to eat at another restaurant with cuisine from my own country. Italians are big foodies,” said Joel Melchiori, the consul general of Italy, who opened the evening at Casa Toscana. Equally happy was percussionist Bickram Ghosh whose studio lies near the 18 Sarat Chatterjee food address. “It’s great such a property has come up in this area,” he said.

Proprietor Saket Agarwal worked hard to achieve his dream project. “When I conceptualised this place I wanted an expat chef, private dining areas, a delicatessen and a lounge for drinks. Not only did we get a world-class celebrity chef, we have also managed to get a fine delicatessen and a rocking bar,” says the restaurateur, whose wife Nivedita designed the dine den.

As the evening progressed, the spirits flowed and the pizzas came crackling out of the wood-fire ovens. “There’s a strong affinity between Bengali and Italian cuisine. The Italians eat a lot of rice, fish and vegetables, and so do the Bengalis!” observed food critic and t2 columnist Nondon Bagchi.

And Rakhi Purnima Dasgupta of Kewpies, also a t2 columnist, had a witty one-liner to add: “The only thing Italians and Bengalis have in common is their mothers. Italian mammas also spoil their sons rotten!”