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Review: How the iconic Trattoria got a millennial makeover

There’s black rice, avocado and a playful Pull-Me-Up dessert in the revised menu of the Mumbai restaurant 

The interiors of the reimagined Trattoria. 
The interiors of the reimagined Trattoria. 

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If a care-package was a soup, it would be the heartwarming Stracciatella from Trattoria’s reimagined menu. The egg drop light broth with tender chicken bites, speckled with parsley, deserves time and attention. It is one of the many new additions as the iconic Mumbai restaurant unveiled a fresh look and menu last week.

Trattoria at the President, Mumbai, IHCL SeleQtions—formerly known as Vivanta by Taj—has been a permanent address for milestone celebrations since its launch in 1981. At the turn of the millennium, it became a hub for club-goers for it served food till the wee hours of the morning. Over the decades, it remained a city favourite for pizzas, pastas and the signature tiramisu.

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The long months of lockdown during the pandemic laid the ground for change. Although the ethos of abiding by a true Italian culinary experience still holds, it has been remodelled for contemporary flair. The ambience, which reflected the bustling spirit of the city with easy-to-move ladder back chairs, has taken a turn to be more warm and welcoming with ochre yellow armchairs. With the makeover, they aim to capture the spirit of upscale Italian bistros which prod guests to stay. Just like the bowl of Stracciatella, the interiors signal that one needs to savour their food and time spent dining there.

The true test of a reimagined menu lies not solely in introducing new dishes, but also making space for novelty, and the Avocado cruda with roasted florets, from the salad section, is a good example. It’s a visual treat with quinoa, roasted cauliflower, fresh sliced apples, dotted with avocado and beet paste, and gem-like dried cranberries. Each element comes together with a punchy apple cider vinegar dressing. The colours and flavours are offset by pieces of creamy brie. One wouldn’t traditionally associate brie with Italian dishes, but modern Italian dishes experiment with French cheeses too. The dish that followed the palate-pleasing salad was equally intriguing. It was roasted Sicilian duck breast accompanied by black rice with a dollop of sour cream. For someone familiar with restaurant-style Italian dishes, black rice isn’t one of the first ingredients that springs to mind, but the restaurant team informed it’s extensively used in the Northern region of the country. Yet another dish from north Italy—northwest to be precise—is the Piedmont pounded stew. With menu items such as these, the revamp indicates they’ve delved into regional specialities that go beyond pasta and pizza.

There is one item, however, which pales in comparison to the spectacular Stracciatella and playful avocado crude. The calzone with chilli and cilantro is like a mini paratha

A review would be incomplete without dessert, and there were sweet treats to end the meal, but I didn’t sample those from the revised menu. The two new items are Pull Me Up with chocolate, caramel, nuts and berries, and ice cream Sunday. I was too full to try the generously portioned Pull Me Up—a perfect choice for a birthday. I had a cold and decided to skip the ice cream. But, a visit to Trattoria is incomplete without digging into the classic Torta Ala Cioccolato, their indulgent layered chocolate cake. Even though there is a new menu in these uncertain times, it’s comforting to know that some things still remain constant, like the nostalgic flavours of a chocolate cake.

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