Mumbai offers a multitude of options to aficionados of Italian cuisine. If you’re not sure where to head for a fancy Friday night dinner, one of the best and safest options in town would be Botticino, the uniquely Italian restaurant at Trident Bandra Kurla Complex. Why I call it unique will follow in my account of my dining experience at this restaurant. Botticino, the Italian specialty restaurant, presents traditional Italian cuisine with a contemporary flair. It includes an enoteca and a grappa display.
Nestled away in one of the quiet bylanes at Bandra-Kurla Complex, a beautiful floral arrangement with a modern chandelier looming grand above it welcomes you and the grand piano playing at the entrance calms your senses as you enter the lobby of this hotel.
As my host took me on a descriptive tour of the hotel and the various facilities it offers, I couldn’t help but inquire about the meaning and significance of ‘Botticino’, the restaurant I was to visit, which also has the only Grappa lounge in the city as one of its monopolised attractions. I was almost trying to connect the dots between the two, when my host asked me to notice the distinct marble floors and walls. It was all made of beige Botticino marble, which is a valued Italian marble. Hence, when the management decided to open this restaurant which stays open for lunch and dinner hours, they found it only apt and justified to call it ‘Botticino’.
My friend and I were here for dinner, and post the introduction to the hotel, we could barely contain our excitement as we were walking towards the restaurant. I was curious to see what a two-storey enoteca, or wine cellar as its generally referred to, in the middle of two busy restaurants, namely the ‘O22’ at the lower level, and ‘Botticino’ at the upper level, look like? What I did see was a wide array of the world’s best wines (around 120 labels, as I was told) on display one over/beside the other, like a beehive of grape nectar with glass for its walls. This hotel has a wine tasting room as well.
I learnt that the exquisite ‘grappa’ bottles sourced from the world-renowned Alexander Bottega distillery, The House Of Alexander are actually made of Venetian hand-blown glass. So the first thing you see as you enter the restaurant is a modest display of these specially crafted bottles, with either a heart, a pearl, a diamond, a ship, or a bunch of grapes carved out artistically at the bottom of the grappa bottles.
The interiors of the restaurant are simple and elegantly designed in pastel shades of beige, ochre, cream, lavender and white. The table where we were to be seated was decked away in a cozy corner, with an under-lit floor and huge glass windows around it. It looked so inviting and perfect for the fine dine experience that was to follow. The menu includes specialties from places like Piedmont, Lombardy, Emilia Romagna, Tuscany and Lazio in Italy.
When we got there, it was already 8:30pm, and on this Tuesday evening, the restaurant was almost full. As we sat ourselves down at the ‘Volare Table’, we were greeted by chef Sushil Multani, who has recently joined in as the head chef; and our server who handed us our special menu for the evening. Each and every preparation on that menu was a specialty dish, and we were having a tough time making a choice, when the chef surprised us with the first amuse-bouche of the evening, Parma-Ham with Melon Jam, which was off-the-menu. As the name suggests, this was a crunchy slice of ham coated with parmesan cheese, meant to be savoured with melon jam from the white tube, the balsamic sauce and/or parmesan cheese sand. I loved the melon jam combination the most out of all the three options. The chef also mentioned that we would be presented a variety of amuse-bouches that are off the menu in between our 5-course feast. As I was complimenting chef Sushil on the impressive presentation of the above, he replied saying that this is only the beginning. And that there are so many more preparations that will follow. First impressions are everything, and going by the look of this preparation, my palate was already excited to move on to the next.
I ordered for the Botticino Garden Greens Salad with Asparagus, Artichokes, Sun Dried Tomatoes and Hazelnut Vinaigrette for antipasti whereas my friend ordered for Grilled Prawns and Scallops with Saffron Fonduta & Spicy Quinoa. We also called for Pinot Grigio (Danzante) and Sauvignon Blanc (Santa Digna) to pair up with the appetizers, both on the fruity and floral notes.
The first word that came to my mind when I took my first serving, was ‘fresh’! This salad was full of flavour, a tad bit tangy and really light on the tummy. I never thought I could enjoy eating artichokes, but this salad, where it was one of the dominant ingredients, changed my perception. I almost forgot to mention that the restaurant has a quaint little herb garden of its own. The chef, quite often incorporates herbs from the garden to enhance the flavour.
The prawns and scallops were succulent, with a creamy tender centre. The quinoa did seem a little spicy, but the cheesy saffron fonduta neutralized the spice, and the balsamic vinaigrette was savoury.
A few moments later, we see the chef walking towards us with his next off-the-menu culinary creation, Salmon Mousse with Mango Jelly. Wait a minute, did I hear salmon and mango? I am thinking to myself how well this combination would turn out….The neat-looking treat was presented in a cocktail glass, and it instantly reminds you of sunshine in its bright yellow colours. It has two distinct flavours playing, one is the sweet mango jelly and the other is the sour-spicy-tangy salsa, both complimenting the crunchy delicious salmon base. The peashoots added as a garnish to this summery preparation further warms your soul with every bite. Delizioso!!
Green Pea Soup with Bacon Icecream and Parmesan Cheese Fonduta with Poached Egg and Black Truffle for ‘primo’ is what follows next. Personally, I was anxious about this choice, as I am not a green pea’s person at all. My curiosity got the better of me. The serving of the soups was quite captivating to watch. The soup plate arrived with just a ball of bacon icecream in the centre, likewise for the poached egg and black truffle. And then the server poured the liquid soup from another pot around it. I tasted the bacon icecream first, it was like sweet butter with salty bacon pieces crumbled all over. Now if that isn’t already quite interesting, the green pea soup placed it a notch higher on the scales. The combination of hot and cold in a soup was something unique and anew to my palate. As the icecream gradually melted, it made the soup creamier. At the other end of the table, my friend was relishing his cheesy concoction with the black truffle that’s imported from Italy (of one of the finest qualities) when I interrupted him to gather his opinion on the soup. We found it very filling, and that it was served at the perfect temperature, neither too hot nor cold. Such soups are a popular pick with the travellers and the foreign delegates, who on work trips would prefer something small, quick and filling. Fair enough!
With this, the chef bought out these test-tube surprises. Brewed inhouse for a month’s time, off the menu were these vodka shots infused with coffee beans, passion fruit and lemons. When life hands you lemons, make Limóncello! All the three chilled vodka shots were impeccable, unmatched and unrivalled winners.
After this, our second course of ‘primo’ followed. It was the Wild Mushroom Ravioli with Zucchini, Saffron Sauce & Red Wine Reduction and Scallops & Prawns Agnalotti with Fennel Cream, Pernod, Olive Tapenade & Orange Foam.
Wild Mushroom Ravioli was cooked well, and had a strong woody, earthy undertone to it. I found it too bland though, but then again, I always prefer spices doing their little salsa in my mouth. However, I must add that the sauces were just appropriate to add variety and flavour to the freshly made ravioli.
Scallops & Prawns Agnalotti however took my breath away in its super plating and bright striped ravioli. It had a strong sea-food dominant flavour, which means that if you’re a fan of scallops and prawns, you wouldn’t be disappointed. The orange foam is subtle and the sauces make it merrier. What intrigued me were the bright stripes on this freshly made ravioli. When asked, the chef promptly explained the entire process of dipping spaghetti in squid ink, placing these spaghetti strands neatly on the rolled ravioli dough and then pressing the dough together. Now I knew for sure, that Chef Sushil cooks to impress with prowess. Brilliance!
We were almost stuffed by now, and we still had the main course and dessert to go. We thought of calling for some red wine to go with the main course, and picked Marchesi de Frescobaldi Sangiovese Pater Toscana and Cabernet Merlot. The former had a strong ruby pink colour to it and was smooth and full-flavoured, whereas the latter was a deep red and fruity aroma soft wine.
Marchesi de Frescobaldi Sangiovese Pater Toscana and Cabernet Merlot
Before the main course arrives, we see the chef walk in with something rather too big, and all the guests at the restaurant are most definitely pleasantly distracted. I couldn’t help but look in wonder and amusement when he uncovered the preparation.
I am thinking out loud, what be this divine looking amuse-bouche! The whizchef smiles and tells us it hasn’t been named yet. That this was a preparation of chicken cubes marinated in honey and basil, cooked sous vide, which is one of chefs preferred techniques, laid out on a bed of cous-cous and fragrant flowers, accompanied with honey and basil jus (reduction of stalk) which was generously poured over the cubes by the chef himself. When I tasted this, it was like a bite of heaven. The chicken just melted in my mouth, like cheese. And the cous-cous (khus) added an Indian twist to this making it all the more delectable. Definitely my favourite off-the-menu preparation that needs to be incorporated in the menu. We named it the ‘sous vide chicken’!
Chilli and Fennel Crusted Snapper, with its cheesy fondue-like orange sauce punched up with cherry tomatoes, olives and potatoes is a must-try with its perfect portion size for ‘secondo’, or main course.
My friend picked Braised Pork Belly with Potatoes, Pearl Onions, Apple Cream and Bacon Jus. The size of the portion was perfect again; the pork was medium red and cooked such that it was neither too tender, nor too firm. There was a slice of grilled green apple and apple cream served as the sauce. Apparently the chef mentioned that apple cream sauce helps in boosting digestion post a meal of braised pork belly.
Both the preparations were ‘chef specials’ and rightly so!
For dessert, it was Pomegranate and Celery Sorbet with Grappa, as I was excited about trying out the city’s finest grappa. Also, grappa being a digestif, was much needed post the spoilt-for-choice gastronomic journey. Grappa was sprayed on the sorbet like you would spray perfume from an exquisite bottle. Very refreshing. The Tiramisu and Berry Sorbet wins hands down for its beautiful simplicity.
With this, it was time to bid farewell to this out-of-the-world kind of night. The chef and his epicurean team really went that extra mile in designing and delivering this unforgettable fine dining experience. The menu was so meticulously thought of and presented with equal gusto and warmth by each and every member involved, that I can assure you; this place will not be a dampener whenever you make that visit. Do make that visit! Each new course was equally, if not more delicious than the previous one. Each and every dish had a strong character of its own, be it veggies, pork, chicken, fish, scallops or prawns! I truly cherished every minute of the three and a half hours we spent here, and would definitely like to keep coming back to this haven of Italian cuisine in the city.
Meal (for 2)
Botticino Garden Greens Salad – Rs 800
Grilled Prawns and Scallops with Saffron Fonduta & Spicy Quinoa – Rs 1025
Green Pea Soup with Bacon Icecream – Rs 550
Parmesan Cheese Fonduta with Poached Egg and Black Truffle – Rs 550
Wild Mushroom Ravioli with Zucchini, Saffron Sauce & Red Wine Reduction – Rs 875
Scallops & Prawns Agnalotti with Fennel Cream, Pernod, Olive Tapenade & Orange Foam – Rs 1075
Chilli and Fennel Crusted Snapper – Rs 1475
Braised Pork Belly with Potatoes, Pearl Onions, Apple Cream and Bacon Jus – Rs 1525
Pomegranate and Celery Sorbet with Grappa – Rs 475
Tiramisu and Berry Sorbet – Rs 475
(Exclusive of beverages and taxes, on-the-menu prices)
The special preparations that are off-the-menu are available on guest request, with prior intimation.
C 56, G Block,
Bandra Kurla Complex,
Mumbai 400 051, India
Tel No : 91 22 6672 7777
Vaneeta Purohit, Director, Avant Weddings, Events & Artists, is a wedding planner based out of Mumbai. She has successfully handled weddings and events at locations like Goa, Bangalore, Udaipur and the like, apart from delivering complete wedding management solutions, other corporate events and religious congregations at esteemed venues. Her other interests include writing, reading, sketching, travelling, attending music concerts, trying out new cuisines and restaurants, watching movies, drama and stand-up comedy acts and cooking.