On a hot Thursday, when my nerves were frazzled by many many things, I really wanted to excuse myself out of my dinner engagement. Two things held me back from a cop out ~ I had cancelled twice already and I was in no mood to make dinner at home!
I’ve never had a less than great experience at Trident, Hyderabad. So I always look forward to dining at their restaurants. Having never eaten at Tuscany, their Italian specialty restaurant, I excited. Walking in to the Restaurant, one is greeted by two walls filled with bottles, albeit of different kinds. On the right is a whole wall of decanters filled with Olive oil from the darkest green to the palest shade possible. The left of the entrance is their well stocked wine cellar with floor to ceiling racks filled with wines both Indian and imported.
Therestaurant is large and beautifully lit (open only for dinner) and the glass panes ensures diners have a view of the busy lights from the IT hub of Hitech City. We chose a table from where I could see the open fired oven which I have a fascination for! It is powered both with gas and wood and one can see the chefs put in and take out various breads and pizzas.
The fluffy focaccia studded with sun dried tomatoes that came to the table had the texture of cake. As I sheepishly remembered to pick up a fork to take a wedge, the Chef stopped me and asked me to please use my fingers. At Tuscany, they encourage you to eat with your hands. Emphasising that all Italian restaurants are filled with boisterous loud people with their entire families. And it is so similar to the way Indians eat and live, hence no need to be coy! That was music to my ears.
We did an olive oil tasting. First the Ligurian olive oil which has a light body and a nutty flavour. Next was an organic olive oil that had a milder and lighter body and flavour. My favourite tho was the Verdenso oil – non filtered, dense and very strong in flavour, with more anti-oxidants this was fun to taste while dipping the fluffy focaccia into the aromatic and sharply flavored olive oil.
Chef Manik, the genial photography enthusiast who is the new Executive chef in charge of the kitchens at Trident Hyderabad is clearly passionate about his food and ingredients. With a career of over 10 years which has seen him helm the Oberoi kitchens at Cecil and Udaipur, he brings his enthusiasm and passion for seasonal and fresh ingredients sourced very carefully to Hyderabad. Always happy to explain the use of ingredients and what character they add to the recipe. Understanding their passion for food and how it is channeled into pleasing tricky palates of customers makes for great conversation! With the food at Tuscany, the Chef and his team want guests to enjoy robust flavours that are provided by the best and freshest seasonal ingredients. Some ingredients are imported because they cannot be sourced locally, the sea food is flown in every day from Vizag and they try very hard to remove all the fuss of a five star dining experience and allow the food to do all the talking.
We began the meal with an assortment of batter fried seafood with tartar sauce and a Tuscan anchovy dip. The platter had giant prawns, scallops and squid along with broccoli and asparagus. Having never tasted scallops before, I was quite excited to try them. I loved the sweet taste and the texture, a little bit like a robust crab. The prawns were succulent and cooked just right and the asparagus was crisp and retained its colour. A good start.
The wine pairing which was a white wine with a fresh floral and fruity wine was served and went very well with the sea food. I do not claim to know anything about wines, except that they are catching up with the Indian customer and almost anyone I know claims to know a lot about them! The wine I tasted was Danzante Pinot Grigio (grigio meaning grey, due to the colour of the grape).
Next came one of my favourite dishes of the evening – A freshly baked foot-long topped with melted mozzarella and thin slices of the most amazing pepperoni. The crust of the bread, the melted indulgence of cheese, fresh basil and a dash of dried herbs and the topping was perfect and I wouldn’t have minded if the dinner ended right there!
For vegetarians, the options include a lovely fennel and arugula salad with walnuts and an orange maple vinaigrette. The trio of Crostini topped with mushroom and mozarella, tomato and basil and roast peppers with gorgonzolla is highly recommended. Also the insalata Caprese which is a dish I am very partial to! The fresh mozzarella, tomato slices topped with pesto had a nice twist with fresh asparagus.
Next up was a delightful Tuscan tomato soup. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get a nice picture of it! Three layers of robust flavours – the tomato soup was thick and sweet with the tomatoes, the ciabatta crouton with tallegio cheese was rich and the pesto topping had a nice change in flavour.
There was a thin crust pizza topped with smoked chicken and goat cheese. If you do not want to eat a complicated dish, a thin crust wood fired pizza from the extensive menu is an absolute must do! The crisp edges of the pizza, the toppings and the creamy goat and the soft melty , the smokiness of the chicken and the creaminess of the goat cheese was just perfect.
The second wine I had was the merlot from Dazante, robust and full flavoured, with lots of deep fruity notes.
After protesting that I had no more space in my stomach, I proceeded to devour the beet ravioli. The little discs of beetroot ravioli, stuffed again with creamy goat cheese and tossed in a flavorful sauce made of brown butter, sundried tomatoes, mixed greens and poppy seeds was terrific. I’ve never seen or eaten an Italian dish with poppy seeds. They add a nice texture and nuttiness to the sauce.
The other dish from the dinner was the homemade Pappardelle with lamb ragout. The pasta that is freshly made tastes so good that it can be eaten tossed with some olive oil and herbs. But this sauce was again reminiscent of a home style preparation, the lamb slow cooked and almost disintegrating. The fresh sage on top was just the right amount of woody flavour. A well flavoured vegetarian option is the Paccheri pasta ~ pasta with tomatoes, mozzarella and eggplant.
The icing quite literally had not yet arrived at the table. We had a selection of home made gelatos. There was every chocolate lovers indulgence – the chocolate, mocha fudge gelato. Even though I am agnostic to chocolate, I enjoyed this one. The white chocolate peanut butter was my least favourite because I dislike both the elements of peanut butter and white chocolate! I loved the freshness of the gelato that paired fresh mint with green tea, light and very refreshing.
My favourites had to be the ones spiked with booze! The Glenlivet flavoured one with candied ginger and caramelised pineapple ~ the tropical notes of the pineapple pieces and the sharpness of the candied ginger was terrifically combined with the single malt whiskey was superb to say the least. The Baileys Irish cream gelato too was hard to resist and after a half hearted protest, I proceeded to demolish this as well. There is nothing that can compare adding a full bodied flavourful swig of alcohol to desserts!
We ended the meal with a nightcap of limoncello served over crushed ice. A terrific evening of fun, conversations and truly fabulous food had ended.
Tuscany ~ The Italian Speciality Restaurant at Trident, Hyderabad
Recommendations: Thin crust pizza, tuscan tomato soup, beetroot ravioli
Price: 2400 for a meal for two
Hours: 7.30 pm to midnight.
Location: Hitech City, Hyderabad
Credit Card Accepted: Yes
Valet Parking: Available
Telephone: 91 40 6623 2323
PS: I was invited by the hotel to dine at the restaurant but the views are my own.