Like the English translation of its name, Ottimo at the ITC Kohenur in Hyderabad is every bit a superlative experience. Among the top-most Italian fine dining restaurants in the city, it is where you head to for an experience of an exquisite meal, with wine pairings that are a connoisseur’s delight.
It’s a tradition that Chef Gianni Leopardi, who joined the kitchens this April, has kept up. Having recently introduced a new menu, the dishes on offer have expanded to include contemporary delicacies from various regions of Italy and deeper nuances of flavours, without quite touching classics like lasagnas, risottos, and ravioli. Chef Leopardi’s keen attention to detail reflects in everything, starting right from the breadbasket with Italian country bread, which he insists on baking without salt so that the flavours of the other foods stand out when paired with the bread.
The unmistakable and delectable freshness of flavours – the fruits and herbs – is the highlight of the new menu, and the recipes have been tweaked based on local, seasonal produce. We sampled a burrata-based delicacy from the vegetarian selection – Burrata Pomodori Biologici E Pesto – put together with grilled seasonal muskmelon and watermelon, a variation to the more conventional tomatoes. The blend of fruit and cheese flavours in this simple dish was both refreshing and subtle. Fresh figs, found in abundance in Hyderabad, have found their way into roasted figs stuffed with gorgonzola and wrapped in pancetta, and the chef’s special, a fig compote pizza with a confit duck breast filling topped with mozzarella cheese, which was sumptuous and played expertly with sweet and savoury flavours.
While the soup section has been largely untouched, the pastas have a several must-haves. Our favourite was the (green) pappardelle infused with fresh mint, cooked in a lamb and black olive ragout – a clear winner given just the right level of zing thanks to the mint. The Salmon Arrosto Su Piastra Di Mango Glassa di Agrumi was a visual delight – served on a mango wood platter, it was covered with an orange and black pepper glaze. The roasted flavour of the salmon with the subtlest hint of mango and the lovely orange were a delightfully flavourful mix on the palate, the balance and subtlety all coming together to create nothing short of art on a plate. Also on the new menu are various dishes cooked with truffles or truffle sauce.
The desserts are delicate on their platters. Besides the classic tiramisu and pannacotta, do not miss the Bonet Piemontese, a creamy chocolate delicacy infused with amaretto from the Piedmonte region of Italy. The lovely lightness of each makes them the perfect conclusion to a delectable meal.
Dining at Ottimo is an experience not just for the food but the ambience as well. Set like a kitchen that extends to include tables you could dine at, its warm and minimalist wood décor creates a cosy ambience for you to relax and soak in the happy bustle of the kitchen. Its casual vibe is such that guests often step out into the glass-lined gallery to enjoy the view of the Durgam Cheruvu lake and The Golconda Fort. On a cloudy afternoon, this is nothing less than romantic, and with the city lit in the evenings, the post sunset views are just as arresting. And now with the new menu on the table, everything comes together beautifully.
Where: ITC Kohenur, Hitec City, Hyderabad
Contact: 040 4766 5600
Opening hours: 12:30 pm to 2:45 pm and 6.30 pm to 11.30 pm
Recommended dishes: Burrata Pomodori Biologici E Pesto, Salmon Arrosto Su Piastra Di Mango Glassa di Agrumi, Pannacotta
Price: Rs 2,000 for two without alcohol
Noise levels: Low
All images: Courtesy Ottimo