The first thing that strikes me, as I step into the authentic Italian restaurant at the Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel, is the warmth. Not temperature-wise, but the kind you feel when surrounded by family. Bedecked in Italian marble, the cozy décor lures you in towards endless wall-displays of vintage wine bottles which complement the expansive windows overlooking the lake.
Although the restaurant is best known for its enviable brunch, the easygoing jazz music, immaculate wine and mood lighting proved to be ideal for a relaxing Friday night. It is amusing to watch your food being cooked in front of you at the open kitchen, which runs through the length of the restaurant. My favourite moment of the night was meeting Chef Vincenzo Zizza, fondly known as Chef Tony. The cute-as-a-button Italian man radiates joy, eager to feed you the best of everything. The hallmarks of Italian cooking are simplicity and genuineness – concepts that he embraces, combines and translates onto the plate.
My meal began with the most scrumptious antipasti selections, including some paper-thin yet mouthwatering carpaccio with shaved parmigiano reggiano and a fillet of sole fish with great spicing, tangy lemon and a drizzle of dreamy white Italian sauce. What impressed me were the generous portion sizes — I had to ask them to send smaller tasting portions so I could sample more! I suppose the family-style servings complement the feels-like-home vibe.
At Fratelli Fresh, the food is produce-driven. The ingredients are pure and focused, and what they create showcases artistry, passion, piquancy and texture. The dish of the night was the luscious seafood Cioppino that Chef Tony, to my delight, created and plated up himself. A wholesome tomato-based broth enveloped generous helpings of large shrimp, calamari, fish and scallops, all cooked to perfection, with shiny black olives for company. To top it all, the dessert featured one of the finest bowls of Tiramisu I have ever encountered. Fluffy, effectively layered and characterised by harmonious flavours, it put an instant smile on my face. Matching quaint Italian charisma with a cultured tasting experience, Fratelli Fresh took just one meal to win my heart.