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A slice of Italy

Replacing a well known joint can work as a double-edged sword. On one hand, you have the advantage of patrons frequenting the location, who will always want to see what the new den has to offer.

entertainment Updated: Apr 09, 2010 19:41 IST
Sujata Reddy

Replacing a well known joint can work as a double-edged sword. On one hand, you have the advantage of patrons frequenting the location, who will always want to see what the new den has to offer. But expectations are so high that nothing less than brilliant will do.

Villa 39 is in such soup. It has replaced Flags, which was known for dishing up appetising world cuisine on Mantralaya Road. It’s been only a week since Villa 39 opened up and fortunately, it seems to have got its act right, at least for most of its part. The interiors are stark white. The basement is a coffee shop and the mezzanine, the restaurant.

As you walk up the stairway, amidst the white walls, you can’t help but feel like you’re in queue for a pass to the gates of heaven. The candlelight arrangement on most tables aggravates the nice-yet-eerie feeling. We hope the food is heavenly too.

Villa 39 serves Italian cuisine. As you go through the elaborate menu, a basket of breadsticks and garlic toasts keep you and the olive oil and balsamic vinegar company.

A Villa 39 special cocktail, Sogni Di Notte (Rs 400) is a blend of vodka, Kalhua, Amaretto and cream. The cocktail ensured a good start to the evening, but wasn’t strong enough to drown the incessant chatter that filled the room. The tables, we soon realised, were so close to each other that you could easily whisper to Mr or Ms Cute at the neighbouring table (no, we didn’t, but you could, if you’re feeling brave after a heady cocktail).

Three pieces of dill scented ‘fresh’ crab cakes with piquant sauce made what they called the Galette Di Granchi (Rs 385). Maybe they should try defining fresh a little more elaborately the next time.

Zuppa Ai Frutti Di Mare, (Rs 290), was a chef’s special seafood broth with hints of saffron and toasted garlic bread stuck on a dollop of mashed potato. The chunks of lobster and other seafood in it, indeed, seemed fresh. The Risotto Ai Frutti Di Mare (Rs 700) — a concoction of Italian rice garnished with bits of lobster, prawns, green shell mussels and salmon — was almost there. Maybe it was the lack of prawns, or just that the risotto reminded us of our grandmother’s home cooked fish curry. We’re not sure what the downer was, but the risotto didn’t satiate the taste buds.

On the other hand, the Pollo Sorpresa, (Rs 590) — flattened chicken breast, stuffed with herbed wine butter, breaded and golden fried with finely mashed potato as accompaniment, was, excuse the expression, to die for. The breaded chicken was ideally crisp and you could taste the herbs. The potato was so finely mashed that you could easily confuse it for bland butter.