Italian food – just the phrase conjures up all sorts of mouth-watering delights. Crispy margherita pizza, succulent meatballs in rich tomato sauce, pasta dressed with the best olive oil and garlic or drenched in sumptuous, velvety ragu, creamy gelato, salty parmesan, and the unctuous sweetness of tiramisu cutting through the coffee. Food of the gods, right?
Now taking up this cause of one of India’s favourite cuisines is La Lola in Kamala Mills, the newest addition to the long list of Italian restaurants in Mumbai. The hushed yet theatrical dining room (hardly apparent in the interiors or the menu) is run by the 21-year-old restaurant greenhorn Ayush Sahani.
This is not your ordinary upscale Italian restaurant, and the floor-to-ceiling black and white mural at the entrance proves it. The chequered flooring, white brick walls, and brass accents make La Lola one of the most beautiful dining rooms in Mumbai. The piano in the corner and the strategically placed mirrors add to the paragon of plushness.
The short menu is comforting and classic. Consider the creamy and dreamy Cauliflower Soup drizzled with truffle oil to get things going. The perky pieces of pancetta add to the pleasure. Vegetarians can order the soup minus the pancetta. But before that, the homemade breads beckon; the crusty sour dough, warm focaccia, and dark rye rolls are perfect for dipping and devouring with the herbed butter and chunky tomato dip. A confession: I’ve dented the mains only a little; blame it on all the extra breads I consumed before even reaching the starters.
Other standouts include the rustic and unpretentious Avocado Bruschetta. Pizza pilgrims will love the crisp edges with soft centre pizzas, and their signature Margarita (loaded with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and basil) will recalibrate your pizza preference forever. After all, a great pizza is all about balance and simplicity. The pasta is freshly made in the kitchen, evident in the deeply pleasurable and elegantly plated Spaghetti Bolognese. It is dressed with just enough meat sauce to coat and flavour the pasta.
If you have more room left, the Saffron Risotto is about as good as it gets for a second course. It has everything a good risotto ought to have – a great broth, rice, parmesan, and some butter. It goes perfectly well with the Marques De Riscal Rueda from Spain and the very French Domaine Gayde Cepage Syrah – La Lola has put together some of the most delightful wines on the menu. But if you’re a cocktail person, then try the Magic Lola, a fancy gin-based cocktail with elder flower syrup and lime juice.
However, my maiden meal at La Lola was slightly flawed. Disappointment crept in with the Prawn Tortellini. The thick, hard shell made it difficult to get to the juicy shrimps inside, even the fragrant saffron sauce didn’t help. Further disappointment ensued with the tooth-achingly sweet Tiramisu sans any coffee kick. Next time, I’d stick to the Vanilla Pannacotta or the Coffee Crème Brulee.
Where: Kamala Mills Compound, 3rd Floor, Trade View Building, Oasis City Complex, Lower Parel, Mumbai.
Contact: 022 50646177
Opening Hours: 6:00 pm – 1:00 am, all days
Recommended dishes: Cauliflower and truffle soup, Avocado Bruschetta, Spaghetti Bolognaise, Margherita Pizza, and Saffron Risotto
Price: Rs 3,000 for two, taxes extra
Noise Level: Easy and conversation-friendly
Service: Attentive and pleasing
All images: Courtesy La Lola