Staying true to the Italian cuisine offered at The Verandah at Grand Hyatt Goa, Bambolim, executive chef David Ansted and his team pay attention to every detail with love, to provide simple and hearty food, that’s created with great passion and love
Danuska Da Gama | NT BUZZ
‘There’s nothing more romantic than eating Italian food’. Whoever coined this phrase, certainly knows what love and food are all about. The Verandah at Grand Hyatt Goa, Bambolim creates the perfect mood to pair with Italian food while overlooking the vast lawns, the Bambolim bay and the 17th century chapel.
There’s more to Italian cuisine than just pizza and pastas. One must understand the varieties and uniqueness of the cuisine to savour it. So, while I left it up to chef for his best recommendations, he made sure my considerations and preferences were kept in mind.
Offering guests a quintessential Italian dining experience, the menu has a large selection of authentic recipes native to Italy and featuring a variety of antipasti, zuppe, pizza, risotto, gnocchi, pasta and freshly baked bread.
Talking about bread, the focaccia here is quite unique with a slight crisp on the top. It went brilliantly with the dip made from artichoke, garlic, almonds and olive oil. However, I didn’t overindulge there, knowing that there was a long night ahead with six courses to go.
Burrata, which is Buffalo mozzarella layered with cream served with vine-riped tomatoes, sweet basil and organic caper berries, was luscious. The outer shell of solid mozzarella with cream on the inside has an unusual, soft texture. The integration of various flavours here is what you look forward to.
The rich chowder of broccoli, potatoes and sour cream with crispy onion biscotti was subtle and simple. Our steward, Ronaldo Cardozo who was on his feet making sure we were enjoying our evening, took us through the courses and provided additional information about the ingredients and preparation methods whilst exchanging pleasantries.
All of this over a lovely conversation (mostly about Italian food) with David was transforming the evening. With an aim to be the Best Italian Restaurant in Goa, the effort put in is evident with sourcing the right ingredients with no compromises.
The restaurant has an open kitchen that offers guests a view of freshly rolled pasta. Interacting with chefs is something you should look forward to, while you choose where to sit.
I’m also fan of risotto (read: actually any kind of food). The Lobster risotto was like taking a trip to heaven and back. A cheddar cheese yellow colour, the risotto has a very deep and intense flavour to it. Risotto is native to Northern Italy, and here with the addition of fennel, brandy, whipped cream and liquorice and the simmering of the Indian lobster, this was a favourite that night!
The other preparation that made me want to die and resurrect as an Italian was the Lamb Scottadita. Australian lamb cutlets marinated in mint, basil and lemon balm, and then grilled and served with minted yoghurt sauce, couscous and pomegranate seeds. With influences of the Mediterranean region, the meat is charred due to the grilling. Scottadito in Italian means ‘burn finger’ and must be eaten when hot. And I think shunning the fork and knife will do justice here, if you want to eat that way Italians eat their meat.
With constant focus on experimentation in keeping with guests’ preferences, there’s also a vegetarian risotto prepared with pearl barley grains tossed with baby spinach and mascarpone cheese. A unique flavour, sometimes you need to have a penchant to understand acquired flavours and appreciate creations made with love.
I was about to give the pizza a skip, but was told not to leave without trying the signature in-house pizza named after the restaurant. Chef Dinesh Rana has created this pizza that is made with Parma ham, burrata, fresh tomato, arugula, parmesan cheese and cracked black pepper. Not only is it fresh to look at, but it could change your notion of what authentic Italian pizzas are and should be compared to the pizzas that are regularly eaten.
A traditional variety, it has less tomato on the base with arugula that’s light, peppery and fresh, the saltiness of the ham and the sweet-sourness of the cherry tomato and the creaminess of the Burrata is a great treat to the eyes and the palate.
Can we move to dolce now, as we’ve eaten enough, sinned beyond measure? So to soothe our souls, we tasted the fresh fruit with vanilla panna cotta that had a variety of fresh seasonal fruits with a silky vanilla pudding with pomegranate sauce.
What you must try here is their Tiramisu Verandah. Their chef adds Bailey’s, Kahlua, French cream, mascarpone cheese and Indian café espresso to Italian ladyfinger biscuits to create their version of this classic Italian dessert. It was creamy and boozy all at the same time. I had two servings and could have still made place for two more.
This had to stop, though my romance with Italian food will never cease. The Verandah is the perfect place not just for a romantic dinner but for one with family or a casual gathering of friends or maybe special occasions that translate into memorable experiences.
A week after dining at The Verandah, I still reminisce the few hours spent there, the tastes that still linger and dinning at what I think is already Goa’s Best Italian Restaurant.