Honestly, I wasn't very excited to get a preview of the new menu at Focaccia. My one visit there with family wasn't great and I didn't even write about it. But getting an Italian to helm your Italian restaurant is a great idea, especially if you don't want to Indian-ise the dishes. How the city responds is a different matter altogether and with the packed restaurant, I think I have a fair idea of how, at least the weekend crowd, responds. Also, getting a risotto cooked for me by an Italian chef is ticked off my bucket list!
For someone who is very reserved and extremely down to earth, Chef Rrrrr-ow-berrr-tho, from Milan, who has worked around the world as an Italian chef was quite taken aback when my friend mentioned that the best Tiramisu in Chennai was at CPK. "Oh, no, no, no. Not paw-see-ble," he said. We decided to wait till the end to find out! On course, we were treated to some amazing Italian food.
The salad wasn't great. It was a very simple cold chicken salad, but I wasn't complaining, with Long Island Iced tea for my friend and Mojito for me, we were settled for a long night of dinner and conversations with the chef. The pasta course was Trofie, a type of twisted pasta that he served us with sea bass (not the basa), tuna and prawns, which made the dish excellent to taste. The tuna might have been out of place, but that didn't spoil the dish for us as the trofie was beautifully chewy, made al-dente and perfectly blended with the sauce. This was followed by an excellent risotto. True to its origin, the risotto was a simple flavour, in this case, tomato, served with a helping of goat's cheese. That was the bucket list tick! √
And then came the best dish of the day! Grouper served with pop corns and a broccoli sauce! All six pieces vanished in no time and before desserts came, I had a chance to snap the chef drinking wine! He was extremely quiet (except when he contested the tiramisu), but wine did loosen him up a bit for the photo! I believe I have gotten the best shot of him, thus far!
He had planned to serve us a deconstructed mille feuille, but of course, we had to have their tiramisu too, after their big boast. The mille feuille was excellent, but we were not prepared for the tiramisu that came later. Served out of a big bowl, they take a scoop and drop it on the plate! Not a very pretty sight! My friend took a bite and flew to, I don't know which cloud! The expectations were through the roof for me and the Tiramisu lived up to it! Most places in Chennai have their tiramisu with an overdose of cream, but this was spot on and very close to what I had abroad. The balance between the coffee and the cream was perfect and you could taste both distinctly. Somehow, they have gotten the balance right without using coffee liqueur, so if you're averse to any alcohol in your dessert, it serves you well!
After another round of a bigger dollop of tiramisu and making some small talk about Chennai, some of Roberto's cooking experiences in China and with 2 and 3 Michelin star chefs, we were ready to call it a day. As we got ready to leave, I asked the chef, what was the secret behind his Tiramisu and he promptly said that they make their own lady finger biscuits. I am sure there is more to it, but that is all I could get out of him. He has promised to give me a box of his lady finger biscuits and I love eating them alone, so looking forward to it.
I believe that Focaccia, finally, has found a great man to helm their affairs. While it may not be unfair to compare it with Prego, Focaccia, might turn out to be an excellent place for great quality 5 star, Italian dining. This is the only hotel that has Saturday Brunch based out of Focaccia which will be interesting to try out and now I am already dying to try that out! I wish I could tell my patients that I want Saturday off!!!