“I love Italian food; it’s soulful like French food. Italian food is original and homey; it’s market-driven, but also can be locally sourced.” – Daniel Boulud
Italian cuisine is characterized by it’s simplicity with most dishes having not more than 4-8 ingredients chosen from a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, sauces, meats, cheese and pastas. A hearty Italian meal chiefly relies on the quality of the ingredients used rather than elaborate or fancy preparations and doesn’t include liberal use of spices. While there are a plenty of regional variations to this cuisine based on the various regions in Italy and their varied agricultural produce; Via Napoli in Prabhadevi, just as the name suggests, attempts to bring the authentic regional cuisine of Naples in Italy onto your plate.
The fact that this restaurant was still a work in progress was very evident from the unfinished furnishings and unpolished wooden window panes, when we visited it on International women’s day. Nevertheless, it seemed to be very thoughtfully and cutely styled for the small area that it’s spread across with well lit interiors and every inch of space used well; indeed an example of space management adequately done.
Foccacia Con Aglio
These soft and light garlic foccasia with chewy and supple ends were neither too greasy nor too dry with a delicate yet vivid nutty flavour and mellow pungent tones of garlic in every bite.
Foccacia Con Olive Pesto
These soft, light and supple foccasia brilliantly let out faint and mellowed down bitter notes of olive pesto (olive paste).
Pan Fried Rawas With Pepperonatto
This one was quite easily my top pick amongst all the appetizers; all courtesy the fresh, firm yet springy, tender and juicy Indian Salmon fillets resting on a sweet-tangy Peperonata made of tomatoes, peppers and onions.
Pan Fried Bangda With Salsa Verde
The sharp and full of flavour Salsa Verde spread over a moist, firm and naturally strong flavoured Indian Mackerel could have been a better treat had it not been for the UNAPPEALINGLY OVERPOWERING flavour of mustard in the salsa.
This simple yet hearty pizza having an appealingly chewy and soft crust with a moist and nearly soupy centre courtesy the plenty of springy, stringy and supple mozzarella and oodles of tangy and bright tomato sauce, also topped with juicy cherry tomatoes and fresh basil leaves was such a gentle reminder that food made using fresh and simple ingredients never disappoints!
The freshness of the tangy tomato sauce, copious amounts of supple and stringy cheese and the vivid and sharp bitter notes of the green and black olives over a soft and cushiony pizza base with a moist centre was yet another hit in all it’s simplicity!
Gamberi – E – Pomodorro
Springy and juicy prawns with a subtle earthy flavour and well retained natural taste (not overcooked or even unnecessarily doused in spices or seasonings), supple cheese and the fresh, thick and tangy-sweet pomodoro sauce generously smeared over the soft and appealingly chewy base with a tender and moist centre topped with fresh basil, together ensured a delicious treat yet again!
A stringy, springy, supple, nutty and milky-sweet combination of cheeses that this was, it was undoubtedly a stellar one! I would still suggest that they use cheeses tasting strikingly different from one another; adding smoked scamorza and gorgonzola to the combination, for instance, would have also imparted smoky and characteristic sharp pungent tones and would have further escalated the taste of this one!
I didn’t try the Funghi Fontina since I’m allergic to mushrooms.
Amari With Lamb Ragu
The fact that this otherwise irresistible combination of saucy (not overly saucy), tangy and meaty Lamb Ragu and the starchy, adequately cooked and appealingly chewy penne pasta coupled with the nuttiness of grated parmesan LACKED SALT, was a disappointment indeed!
Conchiglie With Chilly Salmone
The Conchiglie (Seashell shaped) pasta again cooked al dente, firm yet tender and juicy chunks of Salmon and the occasional hints of spiciness imparted by the chillies was sheer culinary brilliance! The fact that this wasn’t unnecessarily drowned in oodles of sauce so as to cater to Indian tastes, was really appreciated!
While the Godfather Fizz tasted unique even if not anything worth writing home about, both the Pineapple Fizz and the Peach Fizz were skip-able as the fizz completely took a toll over the natural flavours of those fruits rendering them a taste that didn’t please me even a tad bit.
The service was warm, welcoming and reasonably fast and the attendants kept their calm even in all the chaos (we were a crowd of 10-11 people dining together that evening). The attendants need to be more knowledgeable about the dishes they serve though and also need to work more on effective communication skills and confidence.
With just two misses (one in the appetizers and one in the pastas), Via Napoli seems promising enough a restaurant when it comes to dishing out simple and hearty Italian food for an authentic Italian food aficionado like me. However, the simple and authentic Italian cuisine which is traditionally low on spices and seasoning is quite an acquired taste and whether it’s appreciated by the Mumbaikars having a natural affinity towards masaledaar khana and wanting an Indian touch in every global cuisine that they wish to try, will only be evident with time.
Food quality – 4.5/5
Food quantity – 4/5
Beverages – 1/5
Ambience – 4/5
Service – 3.5/5
VFM – NA (Our meal here was courtesy an invitation by the restaurant to sample their menu.)
Will I visit again? – Hell yeah!