Remember to take pictures of the food before you eat. Remember to take pictures of the food before that first bite. Remember to take pictures of the food and not just the restaurant. Remember, remember… These words played in a loop in my mind as I travelled from my workplace to Macchiato at Belapur in Navi Mumbai, on Friday evening last week. This reminder is important as I’m headed to Macchiato to review it. Yes, review.
Regular readers of this blog might be surprised to see a restaurant review here as in the almost 5 years of its existence, I have never shown even a passing interest towards writing about food. Though I enjoy good food and take pleasure in eating a well-prepared meal, blogging about it never occurred to me.
So when Pooja contacted me to be part of a restaurant reviewing initiative by select bloggers, I said yes after getting over my initial surprise and thinking it over. Macchiato was the first restaurant reviewed under this initiative. According to the restaurant’s website, it is a “casual dinning [sic] restaurant, where we intend to serve authentic Indo-Italian food within the budget of the Middle Class.” Since I like Italian cuisine, this was the perfect beginning to this new adventure of mine. The lit up entrance of Macchiato gave me the perfect welcome too ! Macchiato is split over two levels and a mezzanine and can seat 93 people. The lower level is meant for families and large groups with booth style seating, while the mezzanine has a more intimate seating arrangement for couples. One whole wall in the lower level is exposed brick from which are hung copper and ceramic mugs. Some Italian cookbooks are displayed as well. It’s a nice touch to the decor. The lighting at Macchiato is dimmer than what I personally prefer. But I guess, this is the style favoured by most eateries of this kind. The bar is on the second and upper level and that is where I had my dinner. Chef Manoj Rai was with us (there was another blogger, Avantika, with me) all through dinner telling us about his food philosophy, Italian food in India, the sourcing of ingredients from Italy for the dishes served at Macchiato, the special flour used for pizzas, the tweakings done to the recipes to cater to the average Indian palate — for instance, making the desserts sweeter. Chef Manoj personally recommended and ordered the dishes I had at Macchiato, with the exception of ‘softtail’, which I chose. This is what I had: Orange Blossom softtail with ‘orange chunks, mint leaves, orange juice and a dash of grenadine. Sweet and sour and served in a jam jar, I liked it very much. The homemade bread basket served with two different types of relishes — an Italian style tomato relish and an Indian style dhania chutney. The bread was warm and soft and I liked it a lot, though didn’t care much for the bread sticks. The dhania chutney was quite nice as well. Incidentally, the bread is baked at the restaurant itself. Antipasti Caldi — Crostini di Carciofi and Costini di Funghi. Crostini with two different toppings, artichokes and mushrooms. Though both were nice, I liked the crostini with artichokes more. This was the first time I was tasting artichokes and I loved it. Pizza time with Pizza ortolana. I am a pizza person and can never have enough of them. This thin crust pizza seemed to have been made for me. More vegetables and less cheese — just the way I like it. I loved it. 😀 Mushroom Ravioli served in a vegetable stock. It was tasty, alright. But, I’m not a pasta person. Risotto con funghi selvatici e olio di tartufo or wild mushroom risotto and truffle risotto. Fragrant, creamy and cooked to perfection. I love risotto and do make it a point to eat it whenever I’m having Italian food. This one was easily the best that I’ve had. The photo of the half eaten plate of risotto should be proof enough! 😉 Mango gelato and Steamed Italian Cheesecake. I must confess here that I am not a dessert person, so read ahead with that in mind. I found the gelato a little too sweet for my taste, and couldn’t eat it after 2 spoons. The cheesecake was soft and moist and quite nice. Most importantly did not stick to the roof of my mouth. Overall, I liked the food at Macchiato especially the artichoke crostini, the pizza and the risotto. I really appreciated Chef Manoj recommending and ordering the food for us. But I wish a little more variety had been kept in mind while doing this — three of the dishes I ate had mushrooms in them ! While I like, no love mushrooms, I could have done with some variation. I’ll definitely be going back for another evening of Italian food ay Macchiato, but this time with my niece when she comes for her summer vacations. But you don’t have to wait for anyone. If you are looking for a nice, relaxing evening over some Italian food, you know where to go to.
- Even though the menu does not mention it, Macchiato offers vegan and Jain food options to diners. So, if that is the kind of food that you’re looking for, ask for it. Chef Manoj told me that he is currently working on expanding the vegetarian and vegan options on the menu.
- Macchiato has specials planned for Valentine’s Day and the upcoming Cricket World Cup. A large screen TV had just been installed in the bar in readiness for the month of madness to follow.
- The washroom is clean. I checked. 🙂
Disclaimer: While the meal at Macchiato was complimentary, it has in no way influenced my review of the restaurant and its food.