ISLAMABAD - Marriott Hotel General Manager Islamabad Mr. Maurizio Romani managed to assemble a good number of crème de la crème of Islamabad to tantalise their taste buds at prelaunch of a new Zigollani menu introducing a contemporary style of urban Italian cuisine at their eatery. It was an evening of Armani’s and Versace’s as many Italians both from the diplomatic core as well as those working for private services in Islamabad were in full attendance in formal suiting. A taste of Italy was not limited to the natives only but Mr. Romani pulled in many other diplomats. Islamabad sadly, though have every other restaurant offering Italian cuisine but  this Little Italy is where a foodie finds what they are really looking for, an authentic Italian meal. Chef Carlos, with years of experience under his belt, tried to infuse the native Italian cuisine with modern techniques.

Caprese classic salad’s topping was covered with Basil leaves but after some twists and turns, morsels of mozzarella and tomatoes hit the pallets.

Digging in deeper one could find more basil leafs in coarsely ground black pepper greased with extra virgin oil. The residua of the tomatoes in juice form, oomph the taste of the salad. Then there was Gnocchi Penne Alla Puttanesca, a sauce dish pregnant with Italian herbs and ingredients in the likes of garlic, olive oil, tomatoes, bell pepper paste, capers, oregano, chilli pepper flakes and the list goes on. It was a complete nutritious meal with gnocchi, which are small balls of dough made from potatoes, provided backup to the sauce. The texture of the sauce by itself was quite mouth watering. It was difficult to look for a dish of choice but following a server would definitely get you a boutique of Italian temptations to taste. So wisely, one would take whatever was on the offering. Chicken Torellini with cream sauce was making rounds freshly out of the kitchen. “This sauce is to die for. It’s a bit heavy on digestion but back in Italy we make it with butter and you can add ingredients as per your liking.  It can be spinach, cheesy lemon garlic sauce or else but do not forget mixing it with Tortellini,” informed one of the Italian guest laughingly. The dish was succulent. The ring shaped pasta (Tortellini) was well cooked and carried its own taste whereas the cream sauce created a punch. The chicken was extremely tender and the whole combination of herbs, meat and pasta was simply flavoursome.

The executive chef of Marriott stationed himself in one corner as he was making the most common and famous Italian dish called Risotto. Risotto is a rice dish cooked with broth of fish or chicken or even vegetables until it reaches a consistency level. The dish is very popular with all the Italians irrespective of their age. Italians cook Risotto with different variations as per their choice and season. It is common way of cooking rice in Italy. The chef was dishing out steaming Risotto with sliced chicken placed on mini grills. However, up the ante at Zigollani was chef’s special, Beef Filet a la Rossini. The dish presented, well marinated and mouth melting beef tournedos with buttery taste, served on crouton. Although, the truffle and foie gras garnishing was missing from the show stopper, the fillet, it still stood highest stars. It will not be justice to Italian gastronomy if pizza is not mentioned in this culinary love story. Zigollani’s brick oven was churning out Pizza’s of all kinds catering to the bee line.

The man with the Midas touch had his hands full. Piping hot hand made pizzas made from the dough right in front of the guests could not have been more authentic. The only disappointment in eating pizza at Zigollani is that one does not know when to stop.

–The writer is a freelance