Fine Dine

Bella Cucina at the Le Meri­dien, Gu­ru­gram, puts a twist on tra­di­tion to cre­ate an am­bi­ence that de­lights the senses and presents Ital­ian cui­sine in a brand new light.

MillionaireAsia India - - Contents - By Sam Lal

– Bella Cucina at The Meri­dien, Gu­ru­gram, redenes Ital­ian fare.

All cuisines that have man­aged to make the tran­si­tion from the coun­try of their ori­gin and on to a global plat­form have, at one point or an­other, been pris­on­ers of pre­con­ceived no­tions. Th­ese per­cep­tions stem, of course, from a gen­eral lack of aware­ness about the com­plex­i­ties of cook­ing and an over­all ten­dency to lump ev­ery­thing into huge gen­er­alised brack­ets.

So, if the av­er­age en­cap­su­la­tion of Chi­nese food be­gins and ends with noo­dles, for Ital­ian it is pretty much pizza and pasta and never mind the glo­ri­ous gas­tro­nom­i­cal tra­di­tion that makes Ital­ian cui­sine one of the most loved fares across the world.

Bella Cucina, at Le Meri­dien, Gu­ru­gram, is work­ing ex­tremely hard to change th­ese per­cep­tions and the process starts with the am­bi­ence. Nes­tled amidst the lush green Aravalis, 94-cover restau­rant boasts a won­der­ful view of the Meri­dien’s swim­ming pool on one side and the walls on

other, are dec­o­rated with vin­tage art­works. Th­ese in­clude Paresh Maity’s spec­tac­u­lar Ghats of Be­naras and are a wor­thy rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the feted artist’s mas­sive rep­u­ta­tion.

The en­trance, grand with­out be­ing overly im­pos­ing, is made of hand-cut sand­stone and was sev­eral months in the mak­ing and the oor­ing is Traver­tine mar­ble. Here we feel com­pelled to add a paren­the­sis to ex­plain that Traver­tine mar­ble is the same stone favoured by a cer­tain Michae­lan­gelo

for Saint Pe­ter’s Basil­ica, one of the most awe-in­spir­ing build­ings in the world.

None of this would amount to much how­ever, if the spread were not the high­est or­der pos­si­ble. The peo­ple be­hind Bella Cucina un­der­stand this well and have red up their culi­nary skills with loads of imag­i­na­tion to en­sure that the menu com­bines the clas­sic and the con­tem­po­rary to offer a taste of Italy that lingers long af­ter you walked out the door and onto the long and wind­ing road ahead.

“In to­day’s ever evolv­ing culi­nary arena we chose to open Bella Cucina with the un­der­stand­ing that the mar­ket was well and ready to re­ceive a prod­uct such as this,” says David Hopcroft, Bella Cucina’s Gen­eral Man­ager. “Tra­di­tional Ital­ian cui­sine is some­thing that hasn’t been well pre­sented too of­ten and with the de­mand for restau­rants that are true to ori­gin and avour, on rise we knew our new ven­ture would be noth­ing short of a thump­ing suc­cess.”

While tra­di­tion is denitely at a premium here, there is a twist on it which speaks ex­tremely well to the sen­si­bil­i­ties of the young gourmet. Molec­u­lar gas­tron­omy, for in­stance, isn’t just tossed around like an ep­i­thet but lives up to the very essence of the term. So a de­lec­ta­ble com­pressed beet­root might be ac­com­pa­nied by spray of goat cheese snow and toma­toes might just trans­form into jelly right be­fore your very eyes.

This sen­sory treat is the brain­child of Chef Amit Kumar who be­lieves in cre­at­ing In­sta­gram-friendly dishes. “Bella Cucina for me, is the re­sult of jour­ney through my years of be­ing a chef and un­der­stand­ing the Ital­ian cul­ture from its very roots. The cel­e­bra­tion of as­pects such as the ba­sic un­der­stand­ing of in­gre­di­ents, sim­plic­ity of avour and strik­ing the im­por­tant bal­ance between tra­di­tional mod­ern culi­nary prac­tices is what has brought this dream to life. Gone are the days of se­cret recipes and chefs run­ning the show in the back­drop,” says the young Amit who pre­sides over a kitchen where the av­er­age age is 25.

In fact, it is per­haps its youth­ful­ness that gives Bella Cucina its unique iden­tity. That does not mean to say it is not a ne-din­ing restau­rant. It most cer­tainly is with all the ac­cou­trements that dene a premium eat­ing out ex­pe­ri­ence rmly in place. But there is zest to the place that keeps it young and fun. It is the sort of place where ex­clu­sive wines co-ex­ist with a reg­u­lar rum and cola in bliss­ful har­mony.

Dhi­nen­der Kand­pal, or DK as he is al­most uni­ver­sally known as, is the man­ager at Bella Cucina and he is re­spon­si­ble for hand­pick­ing bev­er­ages and lin­ing up a cu­rated list which he feels is one-of-a-kind.

Bella Cucina has a very vis­ual vibe to it. Not just in terms of the view you en­joy or the open kitchen where, to quote Amit, you can see “the mak­ing of a dish” but also in the fact that ev­ery­thing on the menu fea­tures an ex­cit­ing in­ter­play of colours. It height­ens the senses and el­e­vates the din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

The sort of place where you can eat your cake and click it too.

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