I must admit there have been very few chefs that have impressed us with innovation like chef Roberto. Hailing from Milan, he has been heading Romano the signature Italian restaurant at the JW Marriott Sahar. With a career that spans 16 years the globetrotter always has a trick or two up his sleeve when it comes to sprucing up his gastronomic delights. Early last year we had a chance to experience the Black is back menu which was a showcase of classic Italian delicacies made with black truffle, black garlic, black cod, black caviar, etc etc. Upping the ante this year the chef specially created distilled edible fragrances and paired them with antipasti. A true treat for all the senses we got down with the Chef Roberto Zorzoli to talk about his inspirations, journey so far and the road ahead.
LL – How did you think of having an edible perfume with Italian cuisine? What inspired you for Aroma’s?
RZ – There is a deep sense of Italian culture engrained at Romano’s- be it the recipes, the cooking style or the presentation of food. The cuisine here, I believe, has artisanal values. The food uses simple but classic ingredients. Whilst Romano’s is known to innovate, we ensure that we never veer away from the core philosophy of traditional Italian food.
With Aromas, I wanted to explore a whole new dimension in innovation without deviating from our basics. Italian herbs and spices are bare minimum essentials to the cuisine. So I thought to use these in a way such that our guests are able to interact with the food. I wanted to create an experiential journey for our patrons. What better than giving our guests the chance to savor a breadth of Italian flavors through a pairing menu. With Aromas, the guests had the opportunity to pair Italian cologne of their choice with the dish they ordered. With each pairing, we saw, that each guest had his own experience and had his own reminiscent story to tell.
As a fact, 75 percent of what we call taste is actually smell. Food is really about involving all our senses to truly savor the character of the dish.
– Since you have traveled and worked in many countries, what is your most memorable experience?
India, quite naturally, amounts to my most memorable experience thus far. I am amazed at the diversity of cuisines and culture here. I never fail to find something new each time I step out on the streets to explore of this country.
– Where do you feel at home these days?
My Kitchen, for sure. Romano’s is an idea lab to me. It is where I find my inspiration. It is my playground to research, ideate, discover new meaning in food and create inspirational cuisine. It is the most comfortable space I can find myself in.
– What do you think about the current trend of healthy food?
Healthy food, to me, is above a trend or a fad. Health should in fact be a part of daily schedules and routine intake of food. I am happy to see the upsurge in the awareness and acceptance of it though. The trend, as we all call it, it definitely a mainstay of today’s food culture and is here to remain.
– Which cuisine do you find the most exciting?
Definitely, the Indian food fare. Apart from having an abundant variety of recipes, I am astounded to know there is also an enormous amount to discover as far native indigenous cuisines are concerned. There are many dwindling cuisines in India, I gather. The journey to discover the unknown, and showcasing it to our guests, is ongoing and an exciting one. One of our restaurants, the JW Café- the all-day dining restaurant at JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar too has taken upon itself to advocate the lesser known cuisines of India such that these traditions continue to survive in the age of pacy innovation.
– Given a chance to choose something from your menu that’s your favorite, what would it be? why?
I have a number of favorites from our menu. I would definitely recommend that one tries our Farm To Fork compilation, that best showcases our ideology of using fresh and local produce from our farms. In this segment I would recommend the Risotto Di Verdure that has a base of carnaroli risotto, saffron and vegetables. Apart from this, we have introduced a Black Truffles Crafted section that has a variety to choose from; but I would suggest the Pizza Funghi E Tartufo, which is a pizza with fresh toppings of sautéed mushrooms, buffalo mozzarella, cream and black truffles. Our oven fresh pizzas, without batting an eyelid, are must haves- of which I would recommend one to pick our signatures, the Della Casa with ricotta, arugula, broccoli, Kalamata olives, sun dried tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and the Rustica with roasted marinated chicken, mushrooms, buffalo mozzarella anf truffle oil.
– Having experience of 16 years, what would you like to suggest the younger budding chefs?
I would only say that the world is your oyster- feel free to experiment basis personal instinct and intuition. The key is always to research. The soul in your food will mirror the depth of your research and hard work.
– What is your favorite street food from the streets of Mumbai?
I think I’ll pick the Bombay Bhel Puri, it is full of flavors and filling, yet not too heavy.
– What can we expect from you after Aromas?
Apart from continuing to offer traditional Italian food, we will continue to notch up our innovation streak, whilst keeping intact our basic ethos.
Where:JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar
IA Project Road, Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport Area, Andheri East, Mumbai-400099.
Phone: 022 2853 8888