The best thing about Romano’s, the restaurant on the Lobby Level of the JW Marriott Sahar (the one next to T2), is that this relative newbie on the block that’s just about a year old now, is that it seems as though it’s always been around. Not in a been-there-done-that way; rather a place that oozes a poise and polish that usually only come with the patina of time.
Like a tall, dark and handsome man about town, the distinguished décor is definitely stylish, and yet it doesn’t appear to be trying too hard. Wooden panels and floors, sophisticated lighting and an eclectic collection of framed pictures that transport you right to Italy give it a cosy touch, while the sheer height of the dramatic staircases rising up to the private dining area and the bar and the size and sweep of the live kitchen give it a very elegant edge.
It’s against the backdrop of this beautiful space that we first meet Romano’s Chef De Cuisine, the charming Roberto Zorzoli. We are here to try his exciting black-themed Black is Back menu. And he is here to dazzle us with his menu ideas. Or actually, that’s what he does all the time.
You see, the regular menu at Romano’s is far from regular. It has everything you’d expect in an Italian menu and much more. In a city that’s spoiled for choice when it comes to Italian flavours, it’s refreshing to find a bill of fare that can still elicit surprise and a pleasant sense of anticipation.
It’s like travelling the length and breadth of the Boot. A very Milanese Ossobuco made with Australian lamb shanks and gremolata, served with saffron risotto. Gorgeous gnocchi in a Gorgonzola sauce flavoured with pistachio. Polpette, burrata, agnolotti, lasagne, linguini, ravioli, orichiette… the traditional Italian names just roll off the tongue as if it belongs to Nicoletta, George Calombaris’s Italian Nonna! There’s a lot on offer and a lot of it is vegetarian, which is heartening.
The rustic and authentic dishes are made using the finest, freshest, organic ingredients grown by environmentally conscious suppliers. This gives a Romano’s dinner that hint of extra special that you’d expect in an Italian home. With the techniques and combinations that are a part of fine-dining finessing, of course. For example, the splendid Filetto di Maiale, has delicately executed pancetta wrapped in pork tenderloin, served with a moreish cheese fondue, grilled mushroom and caramelised pears.
And although we’re impressed by all this and also looking forward to the many specials that chef has up his sleeve, we’d really love to see that Black is Back spread right back on the menu, although it’s a rare, limited edition one. We are still raving about the splendid squid ink ciabatta bread, the wonderfully textured burrata resplendent with its slice of black truffle, and that exquisite seared scallop on a bed of a delicious and velvety white asparagus velouté, topped with black Ossetra caviar and a tender spear of white asparagus! From black bean to black cod to black quinoa to black Guinness stout, The Great Zorzoli (yeah, he’s a magician!) has worked such wonders with the ingredients that one can’t help but wonder if he’s using some dark and mysterious powers to wow us.
We had expected the drinks at Romano’s to be great. After all, they have their own wine cellar, a beautiful bar, an award-winning bartender and those amazing ice balls that don’t melt into your drink. But in our book, the way they manage to up the taste quotient on some classic cocktails really make this a place that’s worth visiting often. The charred peach deepens the sparkle of the Prosecco in the Bellini. The addition of maple syrup, chocolate bitters and fermented black garlic to Johnny Walker Black Label give the Old Fashioned a temper that can only be matched by the Italians themselves! And the twist of black truffle in the Negroni; there’s only one word for that heightened flavour – sublime.
The same one that fits the entire Romano’s experience.
Where : Romano’s – JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar
Andheri, IA Project Rd, Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport Area,
Mumbai, Maharashtra 400099
Phone : 022 2853 8888