Located inside Hotel Sundarbans’s, Lane#1, Koregaon Park – Dario’s has been one of my eternal favorites. When I started food blogging, one of my first blogs was on Dario’s ( Dario’s – The speciality Italian Veg Restaurant). The outdoor section of the restaurant has one of the best ambiances in the city. When an invite came to be present for the launch of “Italian Thali” the instant answer was “YES”.
Darios has a serene outside seating. A mix of chairs, long wooden benches, round tables, longish tables and all this amidst dense greenery makes this place stand out from all others. Being monsoon season, the area was covered temporarily and for the meet of select media and bloggers, a long table in one of the corner was reserved. I saw overlooking a small patch of foliage of Sundarbans hotel listening to constant sounds of peacocks. The indoor section is not so attractive with dull lighting and closely spaced tables.
Rebecca – the co-owner of Dario’s introduced the concept of Thali and the idea behind it. An innovative thought of how two or three people cannot try out a lot of dishes in the menu, they decided to combine the Indian concept of Thali and offer Italian food - 2 Salads, 5 starters, 3 Pastas, 1 Risotto, 2 Pizzas and 2 Desserts. All this bundled for INR 590 inclusive of taxes. The menu would be rotating by day. The couple has creatively named this concept “Thalitalia”. Only sad thing about this is its availability being limited from Monday to Friday and from 1230 to 1830 hours only. So if you want to have Thalitalia, you can have it only for lunch during the week days.
Soon we were joined by Dario himself explaining the concept and hoping that we like the food. A quick photo opportunity later, he was back to his den – the kitchen to feed 20 hungry stomachs.
The lunch menu for the day was
Starters – Bruschetta covered with Tomatoes, Polpette di Lenticchie, Crostino with roasted bell peppers, Arancini, Pate di Ceci
Salads – Melluci Salad, Tomato Salad
Pastas – Penne Arrabbiata, Gnocchi al 4 Formaggi, Fusilli Fulminati
Rissoto – Al Limone & Rucola
Pizzas – Margherita, Siciliano
Desserts – Tiramisu, Chocolate Mousse
Food & Service
The starters & salads arrived first – all in one plate. Either the plate size has to increase or Starters and Salad have to be divided into two dishes.
The Bruschetta (Grilled bread rubbed with garlic and topped with olive oil) topped with Tomatoes was tasty with some very juicy tomatoes part of the menu. Crostino (Crunchy toast) was topped with bell peppers and was full of olive oil.
Polpette di Lenticchie is meat balls but here it was veg balls while Arancini is stuffed rice balls. Both were decent in taste but nothing exceptional to write about. These starters were accompanies with Pate di Ceci – Ricetta Hummus in Italian was very tasty and the consistency was perfect.
The Salads were average, with the Tomato salad being nothing more than freshly cut tomatoes with salad dressing while Melluci Salad was a mix of lettuce and beans and average tasting.
Drinks were offered and I opted for a Caipiroska – and the bartender indeed made a fantastic cocktail with excessive amounts of Vodka.
The main course consisted of Penne Arrabbiata which was high on the taste quotient, Gnocchi (NYOH-KEE) ai 4 formaggi which were not very soft and Fusili fulminate. Interestingly, the Fusili fulminate was served as Penne fulminate! Might as well rename it!
Al Limone & Rucola risotto was perfect – exactly the way it should be al dente – meaning slightly undercooked. The taste and flavor was subtle.
The main course was accompanied with two portions of Pizza – Margherita & Siciliano and the dried olives and bell peppers were juicy and tasty along with the cheese.
From plating perspective, something drastic is needed. The three pastas,
As we moved on to the last course – the desserts, there was some disappointment with Tiramisu – not having the after taste of coffee that it should and being a lot more creamier than coffee and Chocolate Mousse tasting filled with artificial flavors.
I strongly felt the need to have an espresso or cappuccino post dessert to end the experience. I am not sure how this is going to affect the cost but a wholesome Italian meal has to end with a good coffee. The starters could be called antipasto (starter dish in Italian) and be made consistent with the menu on offer.
Overall it was a great experience but the quality being tad lower than what they offer regularly.
Dario’s & its PR agency had invited me for the event. The food was complementary.