Cibo literally means food. But that wasn't the only highlight of the Italian restaurant at Hotel Janpath
By: Soumya Jain
Posted on: June 10, 2010
As you stand in front of the little wooden pastoral door which marks entry in to Cibo at Hotel Janpath, New Delhi, you have no idea what to expect inside. There is just a slight apprehension, because the door definitely doesn’t give the impression of a luxe fine dining place.
When you do enter it, you are bound to give an inaudible gasp. Imposing Roman statues greet your eyes. A large bunch of grape acts as the fountain. And the rustic chairs, tables, traditional chandeliers and fences give an antique, charming look to the whole area. This outdoor dining area of Cibo seemed like a quaint 18th century Roman town. Then I was led to the indoor dining area. Delhi being particularly hot these days, I thought it best to lunch inside, though the outdoor arrangement was quite tempting.
The inside décor is even more charming. Rows of little bulbs hanging from the ceiling, coupled with iron lamps, red brick walls and a square bar in the middle of the room give the impression of an old-time tavern. It is given a luxurious touch by the golden-framed mirror hanging on the wall and the plush high seats lining the walls.
When I had enough of good stares across the room, my attention shifted to the Italian food which promised to be delectable. Cibo has an exhaustive drinks menu ranging from single malt whiskies, vodkas and beers to cognacs. The choice of brands provided is also extensive.
The appetizers are simply alluring. Roll your tongue over Scarmoza Al Forno – smoked Italian cheese melted in the wood fired oven, while non-vegetarians would love Antipasto Misto – a variety of Italian aged hams, salami and other cured meats with Italian vegetables, nuts, cheese and honey. A variety of salads and soups are also a part of the menu.
The first course includes a collection of pastas, lasagnas, gnocchi and risollis. Penne All’Arrabbiata is a universal favourite with its slightly spicy red sauce. Take care to order a beverage with it to cool off the fire. Linguine Al ‘Pesto’, made from pesto, garden fresh basil with garlic, pine nuts and Italian cheese, served on linguine, typical long flat pasta, is a must-try too. Few places in New Delhi serve Gnocchi. Therefore, Cibo’s Gnocchi Di Patate Al Pesto should definitely be on your agenda when going to this restaurant. The homemade potato pasta simply melts in your mouth.
The main course has a variety of chicken, lamb and seafood dishes. Try some Italian-style ‘seekh-kabab’ in the form of Bocconcini Di Pollo Allo Spiedino, where chicken is marinated with garlic, extra virgin olive oil, chilly flakes, sage and rosemary, and cooked on charcoal. Try the exotic Salmone Alla Griglia – grilled Norwegian salmon with crunchy almond-pesto crust. Vegetarians will love Timballo Di Riso Con Ratatouille - Arborio rice with mix vegetable preparation in tomato sauce.
The 700-seater restaurant had an ambience of comradeship. While three businessmen had table-banging discussions over China’s export policy, two ladies chatted about the state of their skin and a lovelorn couple fought over the menu. It was, not home-like, but a very comfortable setting with clinking glasses, low music and sparkling mirrors.
Cibo, of course, has an enviable and salivating choice of pizzas. The freshly-made paper-thin crust pizzas are healthy and cooked till perfection. It is a far cry from our usual greasy north-Indian version of pizza. The pizzas are served in dainty baskets with a white cloudy cover which Chef Nishant Choubey specially got stitched and made for Cibo.
It was the dessert which took my heart away! The prettily arranged Cibo Fondate was a delight to the eyes. A little baked chocolate cake, placed in the middle of the plate, was surrounded by bright-coloured fruits. As we cut the cake with our spoons, there was another round of oohs! and aahs! at the table because out came a fountain of hot melting chocolate. The cake melted in our mouth and the fruits provided a relief if the cake got too hot for our tongues.
I had expected a regular Italian restaurant, somewhat like the many dotted around the city. But Cibo, with its excellent food, appealing ambience and friendly staff, has surpassed all of them. Even the sweltering heat couldn’t make me regret going out for lunch at Cibo…
Coordinates: Hotel Janpath, Janpath Road, New Delhi 110001, India