Restaurants that churn out top quality food for decades, over the years amass a strong legion of loyal fans. Trattoria at the President hotel in Cuffe Parade, Mumbai is one such restaurant. For most of us this 24 hr coffee shop was a regular haunt at odd hours in the night to curb post partying hunger pangs. For many it was a great family restaurant but for every single loyal fan it was THE authority on authentic Italian food for the longest time. Trattoria had been recently shut for some time due to renovations and I for one have been very curious to see what they have done.
An impromptu drinking session followed up with a spontaneous dinner at ‘Trats’, as regulars will affectionaltely call it, had me inaugurating the restaurant after a long hiatus. Excited to eat at a restaurant I proudly recommend to people my excitement seemed to fizzle once seated at my table.
I don’t understand the need for the renovations because if they intended to give it a facelift they achieved the exact opposite. They removed the comfortable couch tables and replaced them with boring and might I add extremely uncomfortable chairs. Everything is red and dull gold that it reminds me of how restaurants dress up during Christmas time without the obvious green. The screen tv which plays a cricket match is such a misfit in this once classy restaurant and the beautiful fresco ( a painting of some sort of medieval procession in a small town in Italy)that adorned the main wall has been replaced with some dull off white crepe/ moon rock sort of wall paper. I would imagine keeping with the Italian theme they were trying to mimic the marble cliffs of Carara( the same marble which Michelangelo used to create David and the Pieta) but have failed greatly.
The Wall That Use To Have A Painting
For some reason the cream coloured walls and wooden furniture with the trimmings of gold and red make me feel like I’m about to dine in an oriental restaurant more than an Italian. I know you must think I’ve gone overboard talking about the decor but if only you saw what charm the original restaurant had you would understand why I am greatly disappointed by this soul less room.
The only thing I feel they have retained from the original restaurant is their menu. Here’s hoping my meal won’t disappoint, it would really break my heart.
The Menu Cover
We asked for Penne with prawns in an Aglio Olio sauce. This is my all time favourite pasta to eat. I’ve gone through phases where an arrabiata was a favourite or the creamy cheese sauce was the flavour of the month but after everything this classic simple sauce appeals to me the most.
Aglio Olio Penne With Prawns
It’s a simple dish which allows each ingredient to stand out without over shadowing each other. The pasta was cooked al dente without me having to ask for it to be cooked al dente which is always a pleasure and the prawns’ succulent and cooked to perfection. With just a mild hint of spice this pasta was the dish of the day or should I say night for me.
The pizza trattoria is their signature dish. It’s a meat lovers ideal pizza which comes loaded with ham salami sausages chicken and prawn! I enjoyed it as always but couldn’t help thinking something was amiss. The parsi in me relished all the meat and usually this is how I enjoy my pizza but since I’ve been paying more attention to flavours that I use to I can’t help but feel it might need a slight something to break through all the meaty flavour. It’s a personal choice really because the pizza itself was lovely but maybe some rocket leaves or some slivers of onion would have helped enhance the flavour. It’s just my opinion even without that this was a fabulous pizza.
The Pizza Trattoria
For most people dessert at Trattoria means Trats Nostalgia which is their layered mousse cake but for me, if I come to the house of Italia I am most certainly ordering an Italian dessert! This was a very obvious choice- I picked one of my favourite desserts their pannacotta. This one came plated with a crème Brule as well which was a lovely surprise. Sadly I found both the Brule and the panna cotta very average. The Brule was the better one between the two and I felt the panacotta was slightly firmer than it should have been. It didn’t have the smoothness it should have and my spoon didn’t quite slice through the dessert as easily as it should have. I also feel a panacotta should have some flavour ) orange, mango etc )to it so usually they mix it in or serve a compote of sort on the side or have it swimming in the flavouring like a pudding soup almost. Either way it complements the dish and I felt this one lacked that flavouring. Though it did come with two cherries a chocolate drizzle and some sprinkles it didn’t quite make up for the flavour I was looking for.
My meal was very satisfying except for the dessert. It wasn’t a bad dessert but I know it could have been great. The restaurant might look different and I’m told the staff has also been shuffled (much to the fury of regular patrons as they all had their favourite servers) the food is still superior and the service excellent. I suppose for these two reasons alone it draws in its audience and seems to be very popular with celebrities. We saw Randhir Kapoor along with his younger brother who’s name I cannot remember seated behind us and when I told my cousin I got the standard ” who kapoor now?” No one else in the restaurant seemed to bother with them .Clearly most of Bombay is far from star struck!
Trattoria you have changed, yet you are still the same. There is so much more to sample so I shall definitely be back. Alas your dull decor is something I have yet to make peace with!