Dario’s has been known to be exceptional when it comes to Italian cuisine in the city — not only because of the food, but also their sourcing of ingredients, cooking methods, style of décor and the construction of the menu — all more or less flawless.
|Pics: Nikhil Ghorpade
Till now, Dario’s was the quiet Italian restaurant in the bylanes of Koregaon Park that served a purely vegetarian spread under the supervision of owner Dario Dezio himself. Now, the establishment has expanded to another outlet under the name Dario’s Espresso in Amanora Town Centre.
While the original Dario’s is famous for its vegetarian spread, Dario’s Expresso serves non-vegetarian as well. Currently on the menu are antipasti, salads, soups, pastas, pizzas and rissotto — sandwiches, burgers, waffles and crepes are soon to follow.
The quality of taste has been maintained, with an obvious careful sourcing of ingredients. I started with a Funghi Soup (Rs 140), a puree of mushrooms with a coarse texture was more enjoyable than when it is combined with cream.
Simple flavours like onion, garlic and ground pepper were redolent yet not obvious. Their Pollo di Falco (Rs 230) was the antipasti we ordered, with pan-fried chicken tossed in a bouquet of freshly-torn mixed herbs and served with a creamy caper dip.
Tender pieces of chicken were soaked in the strong flavours of sage, basil, oregano and thyme in a simple, classic preparation to be enjoyed over a mildly-scented white wine. They also have plenty of seafood antipasti options, out of which the Carpaccio Di Tonno — sliced tuna with extra virgin oil oil — looked interesting.
There were also a lot of salads on offer, mainly with iceberg lettuce, lollo rosso, rucola leaves combined with condiments like mustard, French dressing, balsamic or lemon dressings.
I wished their Caprigna (Rs 230) had been available that evening, because I really wanted to try out some melted goat’s cheese and croutons served on bed of mixed lettuce with an interesting pomegranate and creamy French dressing, but unfortunately I was unable to.
Since authentic Italian cooking is basically made up of simple ingredients, their pasta sauces were mostly tomato or cream based, and although they may look familiar (in fact, they are), it is the rest of the ingredients in the mix that make them rather distinctive.
I decided to dig into their Ravioli Kamarina (Rs 310) for some smashed peas, chickpeas, tomato and rosemary cream sauce. The ravioli were perfectly ‘al dente’ with a filling of dry leafy spinach and cheese. The sauce is a surprise, with the peas and chickpeas coarse and semi-pulpy, giving out a nice tangy-nutty flavor.
Their pizzas are fast, quick, huge, thin and crunchy. We tried the Salami Pizza (Rs 350), roughly 14 inches in diameter and showered with the typical marbled thin slices of pepperoni salami and long slices of green capsicum and olives.
The base was warm and well-cooked at the centre and crispy around the rim. I found it slightly burnt in parts though, and I hope the chef in-charge carries on the tradition of discipline and personal supervision for which the brand is known!
For dessert, there are tarts, mousses and pies on display — I sampled the Torta al Caffe (Rs 190), but it didn’t have as much of a coffee flavour as I’d have liked and the chocolate sponge was a bit dry, although it was soaked in a nice coffee-sugar concoction.
Irrespective of being nestled in a busy mall, the place is very relaxed in an old-fashioned Italian way. As for the food, its simplicity and passion continues to fascinate diners of Italiano cuisine.
Ground Floor, East Block, Amanora Township, Hadapsar, Pune - 28 02067260431/32/33