The Chef Behind: Botticino
“The Chef/Cook Behind” is a series of profiles that look at the people in charge of the kitchens of the city’s most popular restaurants.
At Botticino, the Italian restaurant at the year-old Trident hotel in Bandra Kurla Complex, you will seldom hear guests asking for oregano and chilli flake shakers. There, patrons like their pasta and risotto cooked al dente and don’t miss having pizzas on the menu either. This is not quite what Daniele Capobianco, the restaurant’s Italian chef who took over the kitchen only two months ago, was expecting to find. The food at Botticino—which gets its name from the extensive use of the beige Italian marble called Botticino in its decor—is authentic in that it stays true to the flavours of Italy’s gastronomically rich regions like Lombardy, Tuscany and Piedmont. “We’re not a 45-minute restaurant,” said Rohit Gambhir, the executive chef at the Trident in BKC. “We always encourage guests to have more than two courses.” With Capobianco now at the helm, guests can expect to find an Umbrian influence on the way food is prepared, said Gambhir.
There are no chefs in his family, but Capobianco’s earliest memories of life on the island of Sardinia are those of food; hand made pillows of ravioli stuffed with ricotta and spinach to be more precise. When he was all of 15 years old, Capobianco resolved to become a chef. He started by experimenting at home, and soon enrolled himself in culinary school in Umbria. Capobianco is 31 now and there hasn’t been a day in the last 16 years that he hasn’t cooked. After school, he shuttled between restaurants in Italy and Denmark, and served in every department of the kitchens he worked in. Moving to Mumbai was never part of Capobianco’s plan but it was an opportunity he thought best not to pass up after a friend got him an interview with the Oberoi group while Capobianco was working as a chef in an Italian restaurant at a hotel in Muscat. “Mumbai was one of the countries on my list,” he said, but before he sets sail for other shores, Capobianco has grand plans for Botticino.
Besides Botticino, Capobianco’s other favourite Italian restaurant in the city is Vetro, at the Trident, Nariman Point. The closest he has come to a home cooked meal in Mumbai, he says, is at Vetro. Incidentally, Emanuelle Lattanzi, Vetro’s chef of four years, also designed the menu at Botticino before he left India last year. When The Oberoi was undergoing repairs after the November 26, 2008 terror attacks, kitchen hands from Vetro helped at Botticino. Lattanzi spruced up the menu with a mix of Vetro’s signature dishes such as the yellow fin tuna and prawns with lemon butter sauce, the Roman style minestrone and Caprese salad, and new dishes that would give Botticino its own culinary identity. For a year, Rohit Gambhir and his team stuck with Lattanzi’s menu, only adding on a separate vegetarian menu in April last year, when they realised that they were located in a predominantly vegetarian neighbourhood. While Capobianco thinks that Lattanzi’s menu is excellent, he is ready for his turn to shine and has changed half of it.
For one, Capobianco has tried to better existing dishes. For instance, the quail, which was grilled and served with cous cous and jus, will now be braised in balsamic vinegar and orange sauce. He has also introduced stringoli, a type of short, twisted Umbrian pasta that is shaped by hand and made of water, flour and egg white instead of yolk. Another Umbrian speciality is the pear and pecorino tortelli (a type of square shaped ravioli) with cherry tomato sauce and San Daniele ham. He is also excited about introducing osso bucco (veal shanks) and duck breast, and is positive that both will find takers in Mumbai. Capobianco gets his duck breast from France, lamb rack and tenderloin steak from New Zealand, and ham from Norchia, an Italian city famed for its cured meats. For vegetarians, “especially for Jains”, Capobianco has devised a semolina dough pasta. “With these innovations, I want to make sure that the occasional guest who asks for more sauce, or more broccoli, won’t have any such requests,” Capobianco said. In addition to the standard parmesan and ricotta, he also hopes to use a lot more pecorino and taleggio cheese in the food. “I want my food to give people a sense of Italy,” said Capobianco. “If they’re already familiar with the place, then I want it to remind them of a wonderful meal they ate there.”Tags: Daniele Capobianco, Emanuelle Lattanzi, Special Top Story, The Chef Behind, Trident, Trident Bandra Kurla, Trident Nariman Point, Vetro
Bandra Kurla Complex
HoursDaily, noon to 3pm; and 7pm to 11.45pm