Bellissimo, Buon giorno, Bellucci... Del Italia, Juhu, Mumbai

2010 has been a good year for eating out so far ... Mumbai, Kl, Singapore, Goa. Yet there are very few meals which have made me stop and take a double take like this one did. Very few whose tastes have lingered on well after the meal was over. I am talking of our recent dinner at Del Italia. I am running out of Italian to describe how supremely floored I was.

Del Italia opposite Juhu Chowpatty has been on our list for quite a while. But we rarely go north of Bandra to eat. This is now going to change.

Everything about Del Italia was very tasteful and genteel. Right from the high white walls outside. To the big glass window looking onto the crowded beach. To the hanging plants tastefully strewn all over. To the low couches. To the orange walls in the inner section with old Italian ads decorating them. To the huge oval dressing mirror in the washroom. To even the tasteful calligraphy in the menu card. And I have not even started on the food.

They forgot to get us the wine list and I thought it was a dry place. Anyway I was driving and couldn't have sipped on the Martinis which were on offer. We had ice teas. I had an apple one which was just the right mix of sweet and sour. Loved the touch of fresh sliced apples in the glass. Just what Eve would have used to snare Adam.

We had bacon wrapped quails as a starter. I suspect that Michelangelo designed the dish himself. The bacon was succulent. Far from the tight, salty and crisp bacon which is served in bacon wrapped prawn dishes elsewhere. The bacon tasted very good and was not salty at all. Meat was clearly the hero here. The slivers of quail served on the bone were endearingly tender. Very different from the tough quail meat which I once had at Mohammed Ali Road during Ramzan. The starter at Del Italia represented everything that is good about Italian cuisine. A very promising beginning.

We followed this with the most expensive dish here, New Zealand Lamb Cops with Lentils (Rs 700 +/ 14 USD versus an average dish price of Rs 350/ 7 USD for the other dishes). This Mediterranean inspired dish was worth every Rupee. We asked the lamb to be medium done. The meat when it came was mind blowing. It was worth the rather long wait. It was more juicy than a Bollywood film rag. Scandalous and sinful. Each scrunchy bite left you lusting for more. The lentils which accompanied it were nice too. The lentils were slightly tangy and yet not sharp and were a nice counterpoint to the meaty bites of robust lamb. God, I have rarely come across meat so good. Meat so pure. Meat so divine. So unforgettable.

The photo below shows one third of the dish as there were three chops to a plate. These were then served to us on our plates. It was quite easy to split the third chop between us as the meat was firm yet tender.

The service was friendly and informed. Any question that we asked on the menu was satisfactorily answered. And that's quite rare. One of the waiters, Anup, a fellow Bong, told me that a new menu is getting launched here. We will definitely be back.

PS This is a special occasion place. I think you can do a meal for two at under Rs 1600/ 30 USD . Two alcoholic drinks (Rs 500), one starter (Rs 300), one main course (Rs 400), one dessert (Rs 250)