Restaurant Review: Two One Two Bar and Grill

September 22, 2010 3:31 pm

Spaghetti prawn, garlic oil and chilli.

In the opening week of a restaurant, customers typically meet the head chef either during or at the end of their meal when he comes around to their table to check if they’ve enjoyed the food. At Two One Two, a new Italian restaurant in Worli, Milanese head chef Alex Bignotti was greeting guests as they entered the door, indicating that his kitchen was well under control without his constant supervision. An entourage of waitstaff escorted us to our plush sofa chairs at the tw0-day-old restaurant and within minutes of being seated, we were informed of the few items on the menu that weren’t available for the night. Though not an ideal situation for a restaurant in opening week, they get points just for saving us from the disappoint lest we ordered them.

People familiar with New York will probably recognise the three digits that make up the restaurant’s name as the telephone area code for Manhattan. Incidentally, there’s a 212 Restaurant and Bar in New York City, but the Mumbai one, started by four partners (Arish Khajotia, Gaurav Kapur, Jay Makhijani and Ketan Kadam, a former partner of now defunct nightclub Fire ‘N’ Ice), has no connection with that establishment or its home city. The menu states that 212 degrees fahrenheit is the temperature at which boiling water starts to steam. Since steam is essential to power a locomotive as well as a restaurant, Two One Two seemed an apt name, the menu says.

The 4,000 sq ft Two One Two is simply designed and divided into a bar area and a larger, elevated dining space, with a small flight of stairs demarcating the two. The restaurant is furbished with grey granite tables, dark wood floors, rust coloured fabric walls and flatscreen TV sets, which although switched off when we visited, seemed an unwelcome accessory in a fine dining restaurant. In a week’s time, Two One Two should also have an alfresco area with a separate café menu.

For appetisers, we tried the truffle-scented cappuccino of wild mushrooms, and the vinegar-doused chicken skewer served on a bed of fresh tabouleh salad, both of which bode well for the courses that followed. Chef Bignotti’s proclivity for subtle flavours was most evident in the crisp, wood-fired Quattro Formaggi pizza, for unlike most four cheese pizzas, his blend of mozzarella, fontina, gorgonzola and taleggio was creamy without being overwhelming. Our spaghetti with prawns, garlic and chilli oil was perfectly al dente and the succulent, parsley-garnished prawns were well worth a second serving of the dish. Our desire for seconds resurfaced after we demolished Bignotti’s plump Scottish salmon, prepared simply with ground black pepper, sea salt and lime, and served with a frothy lemon butter sauce and a portion of Mediterranean-flavoured greens.

Two One Two is yet to print a dessert menu, but the staff are well versed with the list. On the chef’s recommendation, we ordered a creamy raspberry cheesecake with a layer of blackcurrant sauce worked into its fluffy body. While this is excellent, we also suggest you order the bitter chocolate fondant. Our only grouse was that as the bar and the dining area are so close, the restaurant gets noisy. However, the food is so good, you’ll find yourself lingering over a leisurely meal despite the din.

A meal for two costs approximately Rs3,000 excluding alcohol. All reviews are conducted anonymously.