Pondicherry-based Italian chef Antonello Giglio is making delicious handmade pizzas and pastas at Oberoi Threesixty in Delhi till April 24. Go while you still can for this rare, authentic treat.
Pizza and pasta are seen as the idli and dosa of Italian food. Or, through a North Indian prism, the butter chicken and dal makhni. Little do we realise that these ubiquitous ambassadors of Italian food can be elevated to high culinary art — when executed well and the traditional way.
Chef Antonello Giglio ticks all those boxes (and more). The Pondicherry-based chef, originally from Torino, is serving up an array of handmade pizzas and pastas at Oberoi New Delhi’s Threesixty restaurant till April 24. My advice to you would be: cancel all your weekend plans and rush to Oberoi Threesixty while you still have the chance. You should only let a true-blue Italian chef satisfy your pizza and pasta cravings. And let’s admit it, we all have them.
Chef Antonello is an Aurovillian through and through and his food philosophy reflects that. It’s all about simple, fresh ingredients and an organic, sustainable and healthy approach to cooking. Predictably, nothing’s out of a can here. The sauces are made with fresh tomatoes and then married to fresh, artisanal pasta. Even the pizza sauce is not pre-cooked before being applied to the pizza base.
To the pizzas then. They are made with the finest Caputo flour from Italy. Rich in protein, the dough is made the day before to develop the gluten nicely. The result is gorgeous, fluffy Neapolitan-style pizzas, not the thin-crust variety that we’ve learnt to love (or endure). The centre of these hand-shaped pizzas is indeed on the flatter side, but the edges puff up gloriously and emerge blistered from the oven. The rustic sophistication is endearing.
I tried a classic Margherita from the vegetarian section of the menu and, at Chef Antonello’s suggestion, the Salami and Gorgonzola from the non vegetarian. Both were sublime and I didn’t find myself reaching for the Italian seasoning or chilli flakes. The amount of cheese was just right, and the crust was chewy and flavourful. There were other tempting combinations like Bianco (ricotta, mozzarella, fresh basil, cherry tomatoes, balsamic vinegar) and Siciliana (pesto of arugula, toasted almond, garlic, olive oil, capers, cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella). There was also a Barbeque Ham and Pista (fresh tomato sauce, mozzarella, ham and pistachio) which the chef assured me is a huge hit in Pondicherry.
Chef Antonello does ship his artisanal dried pastas, made from durum wheat semolina, across India under his brand Gastronomica, but they may already be available in your neighbourhood gourmet store. At the Oberoi Threesixty, it’s all fresh pasta, of course (a select few restaurants in southern India do rely on a supply of his fresh pasta).
The chef told me he would give an arm and a leg to be able to make his fresh tomato sauces with San Marzano tomatoes, but from the looks of it, he’s doing pretty well with the produce he is getting in India.
On to the pastas. The Handmade Linguine in Red Sauce reminded me yet again that the Italians do not drown their pastas in sauce — or unnecessary flavours.
There was a tempting seafood pasta — the pizza section has a seafood counterpart as well — the Spaghetti Frutti Di Mare, the fruit of the seas consisting of calamari, prawn and fish. I, however, opted for the Handmade Tagliatelle, one of my favourite pasta shapes. It came in a divine ragu sauce of lamb and pork, slow cooked in red wine and tomatoes. Nothing was drowning in anything.
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The crowning glory, however, was the Vegetarian Gnocchi with Potato, a multi-coloured creation that came in a subtle yet moreish cheese and brown butter sauce. Carb and fat hit the pan together. What more can you ask for?
Such a fine Italian meal could have only one acceptable conclusion — food coma by tiramisu. Threesixty’s rather alcoholic (which, as we know, is always a good thing) version arrived, after which an Americano woke me up enough to haul myself home!
The meal that Chef Antonello rustled up with so much love reminded me, yet again, why we all adore Italian food. The deceptively plain dishes rely on fresh, simple flavours to elevate any meal. Good food really doesn’t need to be more than this: no drowning in spices, no weird chemistry experiments on the table. Just honouring the time tested adage: don’t fix what ain’t broke.