Italy by the beach!

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The best part of visiting a coastal city is the beach! I have grown up spending most of my holidays at my grandmother’s place which was within stone’s throw distance from a beach. It is one of my favourite places on planet Earth. My children seem to have the same kinda love for the sun and sand escapade, and go crazy at the thought of a beach day. And so our visit to Chennai would have been incomplete without a visit to it’s coastal delight. As we spent an entire evening at Elliot’s beach, one of Chennai’s favourites, our boys seemed so happy, making wells and castles in the wet sand, running through and out of the waves or just rolling in the sand in their frequent friendly scuffles. It was a delight to watch them so excited and it didn’t seem like their energy would ever run out.

But by 7, the sun had set and the boys started getting cranky and boisterous. That’s when it struck dinner time and we moved away from our evening sojourn looking for a place to fill our tummies. At the end of Elliot’s beach promenade, which is by the way a very relaxing walk, was our dinner destination – Little Italy. With hungry tummies, tired minds and sand filled footwear we headed for what we hoped would be a delicious spread.

Little Italy is a pure veg pure Italian restaurant. My husband thinks that the words pure veg and great food (read. Italian) can’t fit in the same sentence. But since we were dog tired, and he can be a sucker for Italian food, I managed to get him to take his seat, albeit hesitantly. Our host for the evening was Pritam who’s enthusiasm is very infectious, and thankfully he gave us excellent suggestions without which we would have been lost. So this is what we got into. First up was our kids favourite finger food – Nachos and cheese. If you take fresh crispy nachos and molten cheese and give it to your kids, you can be assured of at least ten minutes of silence. That’s till they ask for a refill! And ten precious minutes is what we got?!!

Spinach Salsa: Creamy spinach sauce served with thin crispy toast. It was delicious!

Next up was the Special Crostini. If you are fed up of the routine garlic bread that accompanies every pizza, at every branded pizza outlet, you should try this. Five different varieties in the same dish is exotic and they are worth a taste. One was with red & yellow bell peppers, another was with bitter sweet zucchini, the third with tangy sun-dried tomatoes, the fourth was loaded with mildly spicy roasted brinjal (aubergine) and the last a classic garlic cheese bread.

Next came a 9” pizza split between a Pizza Napoli and Pizza Mellino.  Made with a thin crust, the pizzas are what one must expect and should get when you order a classic Italian pizza. Thick mozzarella molten cheese loaded with exotic vegetables, both pack a punch with the Mellino being a tad more spicy than the Napoli due to the jalapeno-black olive combination.

My dinner favourite was the Pale Di Potato. Potato slices with intact skins deep fried and served with a tangy creamy garlic mayonnaise dip, this dish is a definite must try! The slices after they have been in their dip, take you through a sweet salty initial taste, which gets progressively piquant and lively the longer it stays in your mouth. The variation in texture ranging from soft to crispy adds to the tease of this dish.

Next came the Pasta Barbaresca, which is a penne pasta in white sauce along with fresh broccoli, red and yellow bell peppers, black olives and maize. This is a classic dish, creamy and smooth, with the tempeh giving it an earthy spicy flavour!

The Chimi-changa is similar to a deep fried burrito envelope and was loaded with fresh soft paneer, red, yellow and green bell peppers and baby onions. Hot and loaded, it is a mouthful of Mexican spice.

Our last order for the main course was the Lasagne Alle Verdure. Like the name suggests, it is a pure vegetarian pasta, loaded with mozzarella cheese. The core contained broccoli, carrots, and bell peppers baked within a labyrinth of layered cheese and served piping hot, just the way Garfield enjoys his! The peppery flavour, probably of basil comes out well against the aromatic sweetness of the tomato sauce, especially when you grab the first bite just as it is served.

Our mocktails were colourful and refreshing. Pink City had a sweet sour taste of strawberry and pomegranate, Green Island had a citrusy flavour of green grapes with kiwi against a strong woody aftertaste of khus, and the Little Berry was primarily a strawberry and litchi drink with a dash of sourness from the kiwi.

For dessert, the Tiramisu was delectable with its usual vanilla coffee flavour and melts in the mouth in every bite. The Panna Cotta was a creamy pudding with a consistency somewhere between caramel custard and china grass. It had a very smooth mouthfeel and has a milky sweetness which makes it stand out among the other desserts. Next up were the blueberry and the mango cheesecakes from which the taste of the fruits themselves was pretty evident and strong! Our last dessert was the Chocolate bomb – a chocolate sauce loaded brownie served with vanilla ice cream, my favourite!

By the time we were down to the last spoonful of dessert, we were sure that this had been a perfect end to our beach outing!

My Recommendations :

1) SPINACH SALSA

2)PALE DI POTATO

3)CHIMI-CHANGA

4) MOCKTAILS – GREEN ISLAND & LITTLE BERRY

5)LASAGNE ALLE VERDURE

6)PASTA BARBARESCA

Overall:

1. A great place to dine in for pure veg food.

2. Prompt service.

3. Prices are steep but you definitely get value for money.

Price: Rs 1400 for two (approx.)