When not one but two Italian restaurants opened in quick succession in quality-eating-starved Bangalore, I uncorked the Chianti. Both restaurants come with pedigrees: Giancarlo, of Giancarlo’s Place, has been in the food and beverages (F&B) business for aeons; and Bill Marchetti—consultant chef for Spaghetti Kitchen—was, for many years, the executive chef of West View, the superior Italian restaurant for the ITC Sheraton chain.
The good stuff
Giancarlo’s Place, Bangalore
Go for the rooftop, a friend had suggested. So we did. Who knew Bangalore had so many tall buildings or that UB City looked so gorgeous post-sundown? The city’s super weather makes this the perfect alfresco dining option.
Our first thought was: That’s an interesting menu. The chef has obviously tried to do something different here from the usual pastas and pizzas. Even as our cocktails arrived super-fast, we took one look at the wood-burning oven sending up sparks into the mildly chilly March night, and ordered a simple pizza Lucana for antipasto. It arrived pronto: a thin crust topped with mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes and red chilli flakes (we asked them to skip the broccoli). This was pizza as it is meant to be, the closest we have got to Chef Vito Froio’s much-missed legendary four-cheese pizza at The Grand, New Delhi. Crisp, malleable enough to be rolled up, and oozing with taste. We were glad we dropped the broc.
For the main course, I went for the Gamberoni cotti al tandoori e’marinati al pesto, giant prawns cooked in a tandoor and served with pesto sauce, while my co-diner ordered lamb shanks with paprika sauce and truffle oil. The Indian oven was a clever substitute for the grill, and the prawns were excellently cooked. Ditto for the lamb. No cribs about the quality of the food at this stand-alone.
The contents of the breadbasket—delivered almost as soon as we walked in—were cold. The portion sizes were less than generous. The lamb shanks were basically two ribs. The prawns were huge in size, but only two had meat; the third was just the shell. Or maybe we couldn’t see clearly: The ambient lighting was so low that despite the table tea light, we had to peer at the menu and we weren’t sure about the veggies we were forking into our mouths. And when the bill arrived, we got an unpleasant shock: We had been charged Rs100 for the water. No issues about the tag—except no one had informed us that they served only billable bottled water.
To their credit, they took the water off the bill after we pointed out that we hadn’t been asked if we wanted bottled water. That Rs100 didn’t make that much of a dent in the total, though. The main courses were Rs550 each, and each cocktail was Rs400 (without taxes). The tab came to Rs2,717 for two, with drinks and without dessert.
The good stuff
Spaghetti Kitchen at Lido Mall, Bangalore
Located adjacent to a mall, this restaurant’s focus is firmly on the turnover. But the setting is fine dining, with good cutlery and linen. We ordered cocktails and buried ourselves in the menu—enough ambient lighting!—and were immediately torn when it came to starters. The bruschetta—a chef’s recco—or the grissini? We went for the grissini, slivers of country bread served with four dips: roasted bell peppers, pickled aubergines, paprika aglio olio (in olive oil) and yummy warm Gorgonzola.
Immediate hunger pangs sated, we lingered over our drinks. I loved my Green Apple Martini, a (very) light concoction, but then I like my cocktails to go easy on the alcohol.
I was in the mood for fish, but there weren’t too many options on the menu. The only one available, the grilled red snapper, came with courgettes, bell peppers, chilli oil and lemon, perfectly done to a flaky whiteness inside a crisp outer skin. It was a good-sized portion, not intimidatingly big and or too small. My co-diner ordered a chef’s recco: Black Pepper Chicken—a chicken breast marinated in herbs and grilled with extra virgin olive oil and cracked black pepper, and served with vegetables and an olive-potato mash on the side. “Unremarkable,” was his verdict.
The verdict on the black pepper chicken at the Spaghetti Kitchen was “unremarkable”
The second cocktail, a Caipiroska, wasn’t built up properly: The brown sugar lay in a thick layer at the bottom, and every mouthful entailed crunching instead of drinking. Also, more than a week after its launch, the wood grill wasn’t up and running, so I had to change my initial order of Pesce Impanato, wood-grilled pomfret fillets. We also missed the complimentary breadbasket: We were asked to order garlic rolls off the menu. And the service seemed amateurish at best, sub-trained at worst.
For a cookie-cutter experience, the tab was on the steep side. Without dessert, we spent Rs1,997. Appetizers range from Rs140 to Rs475; pizzas from Rs285 to Rs445; pastas from Rs265 to Rs365; main courses from Rs275 to Rs385.