Review – Renowned Italian Chef Apreda comes to Vetro at the Oberoi Hotel, Mumbai

Interesting collaborations often make for amazing results and when we heard that Chef Francesco Apreda of Imàgo (a fine dining restaurant at the Hassler Roma) was heading to Mumbai for a 10 day food festival at the Oberoi’s Vetro restaurant, we knew an exciting collaboration was on the cards. As part of a collaborative effort that began over a decade ago, Chef Apreda now makes an annual trip to Vetro’s kitchens presenting authentic but contemporary Italian fare alongside the Chefs at Vetro for a limited time. This year, Chef Apreda worked with Chef Adriano Baldassarre to develop a diverse menu that steered clear of the stereotypical Italian fare.

Whitewashed walls contrast sharply with the exterior walls which are lined with glass panels in a number of attractive colours. We visited at lunchtime, so the restaurant was mostly illuminated by natural light and we got a few glimpses of the neighbouring Arabian Sea though the glass panels. Low dividers separate tables from each other and neutral seats complement the minimal white interior. Wine connoisseurs will love the glass enoteca near the entrance that boasts bottles and bottles of wine neatly preserved and displayed. A lounge area allows guests to relax while they wait for a table, while the bar framed with brightly coloured liquor bottles makes a pleasant backdrop.

Our table was sweetly adorned with a bunch of yellow chrysanthemums which added to the contemporary yet comfortable feel of the restaurant.

Vetro’s repertoire of cocktails and liquors is familiar and not too exotic, but their wine menu is nothing short of exhausting. In fact, as you enter the restaurant you can sneak a glance at the glass walled wine bar that promises to bring all your wine tasting fantasies to life. The menu featured Limoncello, Prosecco and Amaretto among other digestifs (after-meal drinks), so if you are in the mood for something truly Italian, you can try one of those.
We opted for a Red Berry Daiquiri (a slushy mocktail made with red berry purée and lime) and a glass of red wine. The icy cold mocktail was neon pink and fittingly fruity. It’s too sweet to be a good complement to your meal so order it either before or after you’ve eaten. Our advice is to skip the mixed drinks and instead take advantage of the waiters’ wine knowledge and enjoy the range that Vetro has to offer. We tried the 2012 Dolcetto d’Alba Madonna di Como from Marchesi di Barolo which paired well with our food.

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Our meal began with the usual crusty bread and tomato paste followed by an Asparagus Cappuccino amuse-bouche. The asparagus drink was served piping hot and loaded with foam, a creamy and mildly flavoured beginning to our meal.
Our first appetizer was the Panko fried egg with saffron, cabbage and potatoes; the panko fried egg was perfectly golden brown on the outside with a runny yolk in the center. The crispy outer layer kept us happy but you might want to skip this one if you like your eggs cooked through. Next were the breaded scallops, buffalo mozzarella cheese and black truffle. This dish deserves a standing ovation – the scallops were succulent and juicy inside with a thin, crisp bread crust on the outside. The truffle and mozzarella were stellar additions, this was perfection on a plate.

Risotto with cacao cheese, pepper and sesame blend
Risotto with cacao cheese, pepper and sesame blend
For mains, we ordered the roasted loin of lamb with coriander seeds, pak choy and lemon jelly as well as the risotto with cacao cheese, pepper and sesame blend. The lamb was tender and tasty and paired particularly well with the tangy-sour lemon jelly. The risotto was also a hit, cheesy and rich tempered with the sesame and pepper for the barest hint of spice.

Pre dessert: Pesto pineapple and cream cheese on breadcrumbs
Pre dessert: Pesto pineapple and cream cheese on breadcrumbs
We were served a “pre-dessert” which was unexpectedly delicious. Pineapple pesto with breadcrumbs and cream cheese sounds ridiculous on paper but it tasted much better than I expected. I didn’t fancy the cream cheese, but I polished off the herby, tangy pineapple pieces in record time.

Yogurt, white chocolate fluid, balsamic vinegar, strawberry granita
Yogurt, white chocolate fluid, balsamic vinegar, strawberry granita
We closed the meal with strawberry granita with balsamic vinegar and a yogurt and white chocolate fluid topping. The strawberry granita was summery and sweet and even though I would personally have preferred it by itself, I’m sure others would enjoy the sweet tang of the yogurt and chocolate topping.

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The breaded scallops and the risotto were the clear winners here. Both were light on spice but high on flavour. Scallops can be rubbery when overcooked and slimy if undercooked, here the perfect balance was achieved. If you always thought that fried food can never equate to fine dining, Chefs Baldassarre and Apreda will prove you wrong with this dish. I sincerely hope this becomes an addition to the regular menu.

Risotto is another dish that has gained a reputation for being notoriously difficult to prepare perfectly, thanks to various cooking shows. Luckily Vetro’s Caccio Cheese risotto is cooked well and presented beautifully. If you like cheese then there’s nothing to stop you from loving this dish.

We thought that the tasting platter might be more food than we were willing to tackle at lunchtime, but if you have the appetite for it you should definitely opt for it.

We liked that the menu was diverse, offering both familiar favourites like Pasta Arrabbiata and Eggplant Tempura alongside more experimental dishes like Sakè glazed cod fish. Regardless of whether you’re new to Italian or a connoisseur of the cuisine, you’ll find something on the menu to satisfy you. The restaurant’s ambience is well suited to a lunchtime outing, and the service was everything that we could have asked for. While you’re here, do try out some of the wines of offer. Our only regret was that we only visited once during the ten day food festival which ended on March 8th.

What we ordered:
Panko fried egg with saffron, cabbage and potatoes: Rs. 1450
Breaded scallops, buffalo mozzarella cheese and black truffle: Rs. 2450
Risotto with cacao cheese, pepper and sesame blend: Rs. 1950
Roasted loin of lamb with coriander seeds, pak choy and lemon jelly: Rs. 4500
Yogurt, white chocolate fluid, balsamic vinegar, strawberry granite: Rs. 950

The Oberoi,
Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Road,
Nariman Point,
Mumbai, 400021
Phone: 022 6632 5757

Images Courtesy: Erica D’Souza
Note: The writer was hosted at Vetro but all opinions expressed are her own.

The Luxe Factor Is

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