Restaurant Review: Serafina
These days, Mumbai seems like an obligatory stop on the expansion bandwagon. If you’ve done South America, the Far East and Russia, then India is but your last stepping stone in completing domination of the BRIC quartet, something of a pattern for restauranteurs from Europe and America after they’ve exhausted their home turf. It is perhaps with this in mind that Serafina—started in New York in 1995 by Vittorio Assaf and Fabio Granato—has opened in Mumbai, after launches in Tokyo, Moscow and Sao Paulo.
Serafina, with its sunny yellow awning, ought to be situated outdoors. Except this being Mumbai, the city of no pavements, it is housed within Palladium mall, where the ambience is tightly controlled to near anti-septic levels of homogenity. Even the wood fired brick pizza oven, the centre-piece of this 150-cover establishment, is, as it is with Serafinas elsewhere in the world, just one more tick mark on the standard Italian restaurant list (the others include mural festooned walls and displays of wine bottles on wood shelves).
Serafina in New York is a similarly inoffensive place, albeit with a largely solid pizza and salad selection, which has been ably recreated here at surprisingly sensible price points (for an upscale dining place that is). Pastas and pizzas are within the Rs400 to Rs600 mark; while imported red meats are, understandably, double to triple of that. The menu is relatively small, but overall, the food is a decidedly robust addition to the Italian dining scene here.
The Serafina chicken salad deserves a mention mostly because the lettuce was shredded to small, fork-friendly sizes, with every single Romaine and mesclun leaf, sun-dried tomato, raisin and pine nut amply coated in pesto dressing. The luscious cut of soft seared filet mignon, with a serving of arugula, was also generously tossed in a peppery sauce (though we could have done without the diced mushy tomatoes). These are salads for those who like their dressings most definitely not on the side.
Our tartare di Sofia, diced tuna with sesame seeds, was too veiny, and inexplicably placed on a bed of sliced cucumbers and an insipid mayo-based dressing. The Margherita (ask for it without olives) was by far one of the best we’ve had in the city; thin crust, charred ever so slightly with a tangy, buttery tomato base of San Marzanos and splotches of lovely white mozzarella. Other stand-outs of our meal were the baby New Zealand lamb chops and filet mignon, which were cooked to medium rare rosiness and enhanced by sides of liberally butter-slathered mash and grilled zucchini and peppers. The penne in the penne pomodoro, a litmus test of any good Italian joint, was, we’re glad to note, al dente. Only the chicken paillard, hammered into a pie-size portion and garnished with olive oil and rosemary was a let down, relying too much on the oil to lend moisture to the meat.
The server insisted we try the tiramisu for dessert because it would be “unlike any tiramisu we’ve had before”. He was, for the most part, right; it was indeed unlike any tiramisu we’ve had in Mumbai, which is to say a faithful execution made entirely of mascarpone and lady fingers and bang on with the coffee to rum ratio. Equally compelling was the focaccia with Nutella, which was really an oven baked pizza, filled with the gooey hazelnut spread and dusted with icing sugar.
Our visit during opening week was not without fumbles: our waiter insisted on chilling our red wine in an ice-bucket and courses were erratically served, coming in intervals of up to 45 minutes at times. Plating was sloppier than it should have been, the room incredibly cold; and we left acutely aware that most of what we felt was excellent (the pizzas, the red meats) used mostly imported ingredients. Given its location however, Serafina should be a sure-fire hit with surrounding officer goers who will be able to bank on its authentic Italian offerings. Our only hope—that they don’t soon give in to customer demands to over-sauce, over-spice and over-expand menu choices.
A meal for two, with alcohol, costs approximately Rs4,000. This review was conducted anonymously.Tags: Palladium Mall, Restaurants, Serafina
High Street Phoenix
Senapati Bapat Marg
Phone022 4023 7711
HoursDaily, noon to 1am