Make travelling to Gurgaon worth it with an entertaining and stiff-free dining experience at Prego at The Westin Gurgaon. We assure you, you won't complain!
By: Soumya Jain
Posted on: August 2, 2012
Make travelling to Gurgaon worth it with an entertaining and stiff-free dining experience at Prego at The Westin Gurgaon. We assure you, you won’t complain!
While the food is, of course, the focal point of a restaurant, the ambience is what impresses people first. And Prego, at The Westin Gurgaon, hits the nail with the first touchpoint itself.
A little separate from the main property, we walked a bit down a winding pathway to be greeted by a smiling staff member who led us inside Prego. Taking a seat near the expansive front glass wall of the restaurant, we enjoyed the breezy weather and slight sunshine, which is a rare occurrence in the usual sweltering Delhi.
Colouring up the experience
Furnished with wood furniture and focusing on the four colours of blue, amber, red and yellow, the décor of the restaurant was vibrant and colourful. And so was the restaurant manager Mr Amit Kumar. He jovially introduced himself and was absolutely casual in his demeanour. “We intend to make the restaurant very relaxed and casual. We want people to come back again and again. Whether it’s with a group of friends or after a hard day’s work, people should be able to unwind here. This place is not just for special occasions, but for whenever you want to put your feet up!” he said.
Serving Italian cuisine, the entire staff had badges with Italian names pinned on them. So while Mr Kumar was known as Biagio, our server became Alberto. And not once will you see any of the servers stiff or formal. All of them are exuberant, but not disrespectful. “These are crazy guys,” says Mr Kumar, “you never know what they’ll do next.” On asking him to explain the bizarre statement, he informs that “these guys” can just start dancing when the house is full, or they’ll give “shocks” when they feel like it!
After this piece of information, I tried to be on my guard and kept a lookout. But not for long. The environment of Prego doesn’t help your alertness one bit. It’s designed to be casual and fun. And after barely five minutes, I slipped down on my chair and was engrossed in having a laid-back conversation with my companions.
The rusty Italian
The food, also, was not without its twists. If you go looking for authentic Italian – which, according to you, is the creamy, bland, non-spicy pasta kind of thing – you won’t find it here. Prego serves Californian Italian and also takes inspiration from Italian roadside eateries. The food here, thus, is slightly more piquant and flavourful. In short, something which EVERY Indian will love I think.
Starting with drinks, I ordered a Peach & Basil mocktail, which was light and subtle in flavours. Being delicate, it turned out to be the perfect accompaniment to the food that came later since it didn’t overpower the lively tastes of the dishes. Their drinks menu featured all the most desired alcohol brands. Their wine list, I was happy to note, included wines from new world regions too like Chile, Argentina and more. And the large wine showcase in the centre gave proof to the list, while adding a classy feature to the restaurant.
The meal began with a variety of bruschettas. The chefs had very kindly prepared some toppings especially for us I believe. Not wanting to fill my stomach too much with antipasti only, I took my pick of a simple bruschetta with tomato and mozzarella cheese. The taste was perfect. But what I liked better was that the bread was not too hard. It was easy to bite in without making a mess. Non-vegetarians can try Carpaccio di manzo, rucola, parmigiano reggiano, which is thinly sliced tenderloin fillet, rocket, marinated mushrooms, sundried tomato and parmesan.
I was enjoying the ‘feel’ of the restaurant so much, that the food didn’t have much of my attention initially. But post the antipasti, I shook up myself to remember the job at hand and do it seriously.
Next came the Classic Minestrone Soup with basil pesto, which was quite heart warming. Not too thick and riddled with just enough veggies, the complex soup was slightly peppery and a delight to the soul. Zuppa de pesce alla pescatora – fresh seafood and fish stew with tomato salsa, chilly, cherry tomato and herbs – would entice seafood lovers!
Dedicating the day to classics, the main course started with Pizza Margherita. Surprisingly, a lot of ‘authentic’ Italian restaurants get wrong with this dish. Gladly, this one did not. The crust was thin and baked to perfection (not burnt like some restaurants end up serving at times). The cheese content was not too much, so as to keep you pulling till your arms/teeth start aching, while attracting some unwanted attention from other diners. I began eating the pizza with fork and knife. But seeing around me, I realized this was not really needed in this five-star restaurant, and I soon reverted to using my hands. “One more brownie point to Prego,” I thought.
Though I was quite full after having a good fill of the pizza, I saw Alberto, our server, quietly slip a plate of risotto on my table. It was ‘Risotto ai funghi selvatici e parmigiano’ – roughly translating to risotto made of wild mushrooms and parmesan cheese. Not being a fan of mushrooms, I was a little apprehensive of the dish. But to my delight, it turned out to be much more than I had expected of the humble fungi! Served just the right temperature – not too hot to burn your tongue and not too cold - the texture was creamy, making the risotto easy to savour and swallow. It was slightly fiery as opposed to the usual mushroom risottos served around the city. Chef David Watson of Prego cleared the misconception that Italian is a bland cuisine. The spiciness quotient, in fact, depends on which region of Italy you are. The northern regions are more piquant than the southern regions. The risotto proved that right.
Another must-try should be Lasagna al forno, a signature dish at Prego, which is wood fired oven-baked pasta, tenderloin ragout with parmesan. The menu also has a separate ‘Posh Prego’ section, which lists innovative Prego dishes made with ingredients which are sometimes difficult to find in India. Try your hand at Vitello Milanese, which is parmesan crumbed veal with broccolini and lemon sauce. Prego’s roast lamb rack with roast pumpkin and olive tapenade has been appreciated by many as well.
A shocking end!
The desserts are another story altogether. Just as we were thinking of how we are all feeling sleepy, Chef Gaurav from Prego bought the dessert plate himself, which had an assortment of ‘goodies’ laded on it. And I started with the Tiramisu first. But before I could dig in, my espresso was being served. And, oh horror! The cup is falling on me! But only it didn’t. It was empty. Everybody laughed and hooted at my shocked expression as I realized that, living up to their reputation, the staff had finally caught me unaware, and pulled a trick on me. But completely at ease due to everyone’s genial expressions, I soon went back to my dessert.
The Tiramisu had an ever so subtle flavour of coffee. It was extremely pleasing to the palate. Even though I wish it was a little spongier, I enjoyed it very much. Gianduiotto di torino – hazelnut chocolate from Turin, topped with hazelnut ice cream – was crunchy. A perfect dessert for hot summer afternoons, it was excellent I should say. There was also a crusty cake with a slight orange flavour, the exact name of which escapes me, served with orange marmalade. The cake, when eaten with the marmalade, gave tough competition to the other desserts mentioned here! I liked the inventiveness of the chefs and gave them a silent salute.
Prego charmed in various degrees at various levels. But it was the relaxed feel of the place, which you don’t expect in a five-star hotel, which enchanted me the most. Not to say that the food was not up to the mark. It was the silent, but important, and perfect companion in your journey at Prego. But I suspect that patrons would come back here more for the interactive, informal atmosphere.
Leaving Prego was not uneventful as well. We were given clown noses to wear as Alberto clicked our photograph. After downing my espresso, armed with the photograph placed in a quick, colourful paper frame, and grinning like a well-fed Cheshire cat, I exited the restaurant, while vowing to come back again.
Coordinates: The Westin Gurgaon, 1, MG Road, Sector 29, Gurgaon, Haryana, India
Open for lunch and dinner
To make reservations, please call: +91-124-4977841