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ITC MAURYA, NEW DELHI

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West View Dons New Avatar as Ottimo, the Italian Eatery That Has Bengaluru & Chennai Eating Out of Its Hands

Posted by: Sourish Bhattacharyya On Thursday, June 02, 2016

Source: http://indianrestaurantspy.com/blogpost/west-view-dons-new-avatar-ottimo-italian-eatery-has-bengaluru-chennai-eating-out-its-hands

Tags: Dining

TWENTY years after it opened to become the toast of the city, ITC Maurya's rooftop restaurant, West View, which has seen several avatars and has had its roller-coaster moments, is all set to welcome diners as Ottimo, one of the gems of ITC Hotels that has moved up north after wowing Bengaluru (ITC Gardenia) and Chennai (ITC Grand Chola), notching up TripAdvisor ratings of 5 and 4.5 respectively in the two markets.

Presided over by its Italian-Australian chef, Vittorio Greco, a Tuscan with a home in Brisbane, Ottimo at West View has a dramatic new look with the old antipasti display at the centre making way for a deep square table, christened 'Ottimo Square' and designed for large family or corporate groups. The table sits over a base of bright and colourful tiles that meld together in a heart-warming pattern and on top of it hangs a cast-iron chandelier painted in a soothing Mediterranean blue, its recurring motif being a she-wolf (a throwback to the legend of the she-wolf who mothered Romulus and Remus, the twins who are said to have founded Rome).

The grill has moved out to the clutter-less al fresco area (the 'Infinity Theatre') and made way for Ottimo's wine cellar, which comes with an accompanying tasting table, and the vibrantly tiled open kitchen faces the restaurant. Chef Vittorio proudly describes Ottimo as "a restaurant in a kitchen" and the experience it offers is truly that of eating at a friend's home. The restaurant has a stone pizza oven, two bars (one of them at the 'Infinity Theatre'), an Edwardian 'potato baker' (to make the perfect jacket potatoes) that doubles as an oven, a vertical herb wall to encourage guests to choose what that they would like to go into their favourite dishes, and a dessert trolley.

Guests can now opt for an antipasti, pasta and dessert routine, or go for the complete West View experience by ordering a la carte, or just have pizza for dinner. During winter, the restaurant will open at 5 p.m. to encourage people to come for a pizza and beer. That will also be the time when the 'Infinity Theatre', its gazebos done away with to facilitate parties attended by up to 100 people, will come alive with a busy bar and busier grills.

Managing the back-end will be the bright young restaurant manager, Rohit Malhotra; its veteran maitre d', Jitender Kapoor, whose association with ITC Maurya dates back to its birth in 1978; and sommelier, Arun Jayant, who has moved from Bukhara and has a WSET-3 certificate. Malhotra, incidentally, becomes a part of a tradition that dates back to Anil Chadha, who was the restaurant's first manager when it opened in 1996. Chadha went on to lead ITC Maurya and is now Area Manager (South) and General Manager, ITC Grand Chola, Chennai.

Chef Vittorio arrived in Bangalore in November 2012. It was Diwali and the chef genuinely thought he had landed in a war zone till he realised that crackers are not the same as bombs. "India has now become my second home," says the chef, who has worked around Italy and for a number of years in Australia. "Now that my daughter is married and settled in Brisbane, my wife and I are enjoying a second honeymoon."

Speaking about the Ottimo at West View experience, Chef Vittorio said the cuisine would be contemporary Italian without a hint of fusion. It will have a blackboard menu of the day to give regulars something new to look forward to. It will also be vegetarian friendly and serve home-made gelato. And guests can look forward to tailor-made dinner experiences -- in other words, a surprise each time they dine out at Ottimo. "There's nothing more exciting than doing something new every day," says Chef Vittorio, who keeps tapping the global association of Italian chefs working overseas for new recipes and ideas.

Ottimo is the latest avatar of the hotel's rooftop restaurant space, which started out in 1978 as a French restaurant named Takshila presided over by the legendary Roger Moncourt, the beefy Frenchman who once lorded over the kitchens of The Ashok. It was subsequently known as Club de France till it became West View in 1996 -- the country's first restaurant to be run entirely by women. The idea was the hotel's then senior executive chef, Gev Desai, and it was driven by its then general manager, Nakul Anand, who is now ITC Limited's Executive Director heading its hospitality and lifestyle verticals.

And Manisha Bhasin, who's now in Desai's position, was the chef who steered West View. Bhasin remembers those heady days when the restaurant used to be open till 2 a.m. and diners would queue up to dig West View's Rs 1,250 all-you-can-eat deal! It used to be very difficult to source ingredients because of import restrictions, but Manisha and her team managed, planning ahead and placing orders for items ranging from sirloin steak to truffles three months in advance. Unsurprisingly, West View was most famous for its T-bone, rib-eye and sirloin steaks in the days when beef was not a dirty word.

Ottimo opens with an enviable inheritance. It will be interesting to see whether Delhi warms up to it in the same way as Bengaluru and Chennai did before it.

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