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An Italian café with a punch

Every time I climb up to yet new restaurant in Khan Market, I wonder how many more are about to open here, writes Marryam H Reshii.

india Updated: Dec 25, 2008 21:08 IST

Every time I climb up to yet another new restaurant in Khan Market, I wonder how many more are about to open here. Amici is decidedly among the better ones. It has a lively atmosphere, a great menu and some fabulous food. More than anything, it is an original, being an Italian café with wraps, burgers and imaginative drinks to supplement pizzas and pastas.

Where Amici will have to pull up its socks, is staff training. Actually, it begins with the management — the owner himself greeted me, told me how good the chocolate and peanut butter signature shake is (Rs 140) and then proceeded to dissuade me to have it on the grounds that it was “seriously unhealthy”! I was dumfounded, but recovered my poise sufficiently to insist on ordering it. It was indeed delicious — the slightly salty peanut butter was a perfect foil to the chocolate.

Very few restaurants in the NCR offer dry pizza, though it is a common enough feature all over Italy. Alio, olio, peperoncino (Rs 270), has neither cheese nor tomato sauce and the menu clearly says that. Only restaurants that are confident about the quality of their pizza base would dare to offer a pizza secco, so I knew what I was getting in for. Imagine my astonishment, therefore, when no fewer than three staff members came to my table to plead with me not to order it, because “nobody who orders it likes it.”

This is the first restaurant I have come across where customers have to fight to order the dish(es) of their choice, but that is the only downside. The pizza secco was fabulous — it managed the difficult feat of being soft and crisp at the same time. I am glad that I won my fight with the staff!

However, the juicy tenderloin burger (Rs 350) was by far and away the finest I have sampled in the city. Made with a generous-sized bun without a trace of sweetness, there was a smear of tomato concasse made with fresh tomatoes. The tenderloin patty was flavourful and succulent. The salad that was served with the burger had red tomato slices, fresh, crunchy cucumber and perky lettuce leaves. What is so special about all this? Most restaurants don’t bother to sweat the small stuff. But then, few restaurants do such a great job with a burger in the first place.