The Italian Way: Why You Should Head To CinCin
When you pull up a chair at CinCin, Mumbai’s latest Italian restaurant, it feels quite possible that you are, instead, pulling up a chair at a Venetian bacari. The interiors do a great deal to further this impression. The wood-fired pizza oven in the back, and the letters ‘Welcome to la famiglia’ emblazoned on the window of the open kitchen are quaint touches, but it’s the restaurant’s stunning arched windows and its half indoor, half Alfresco bar that truly make you believe you might be on the banks of the Grand Canal.
It comes as no surprise that KA Hospitality, the group that brought Yauatcha and Nara Thai to Mumbai, have endeavoured for CinCin, their first homegrown initiative, to be an exercise in authenticity. Karyna Bajaj, the mastermind behind the new venture, has worked meticulously to realise her vision and ensure that everything about the restaurant is as true to its Italian roots as possible.
The food and drink at CinCin are as transportive as the atmosphere, and the offerings vary by region. The menu functions as a culinary map of Italy, with dishes listed from North to South, and there is a strong emphasis on the cicchetti – small plates – that you are meant to pair with a cocktail or a selection from their carefully curated list of 50 wines.
We begin in the South, with the Burrata, which has all the freshness and creaminess that you’d want from the burrata of your wildest dreams. For those of us who spend a disproportionate amount of our lives dreaming about cheese, this is high praise. The next dish to arrive is the gorgeous Crispy Crumbed Brie, which is doused in house-infused truffle honey. To say that this deep-fried dish is the more refined cousin of the humble mozzarella stick is not incorrect, but this doesn’t do justice to the delicate perfection in the simple, salty brie, fried in beer batter and paired with the sweetness of honey and richness of truffles.
If you’re feeling adventurous, try the Salmon Fume e Homemade Ricotta. The smoked salmon arrives with an unexpectedly spicy and intensely memorable dill sauce, balanced by a cooling-dollop of house ricotta. The Asparagus Sformato is another unusual standout: a flavourful mousse imbued with an unmistakable taste of asparagus, served beneath a layer of Parmesan foam.
By the time we move on from the cicchetti, each small plate has left us thoroughly dazzled in turn, before we’ve even arrived at the main event — CinCin’s handmade pasta. The Pappardelle with Lamb Ragout is made for people whose main comfort food is a good bolognese, and even beneath the rich sauce the pasta stands out as soft, delicately flavoured and perfectly springy. The uncompromising quality of the pasta remains constant across the dishes, be that the stringy Tagliolini with vodka sauce and spicy peppers, or the elegant Chitarra Al Granchio, which is served inside a crab shell.
Of course, despite having eaten enough to feed a small Roman army, we would be remiss to skip dessert, so naturally, we try three: the divine, buttery Panna Cotta with fig and almonds, the classic Tiramisu, which does not disappoint in any way, and the Tre Latti (three milks), which, as the name suggests, consists of a dense sponge cake soaked in three kinds of milk.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about CinCin is its commitment to making Italian dining more approachable in Mumbai. Wine is served in stemless glasses, in an attempt to make drinking it feel less pretentious. Collaborative Chef Romina Lugaresi and Executive Chef Sameer Karkare strike the fine balance between culinary creativity and accessibility. The service is impeccable, and entirely without the teething problems one would expect from a new restaurant. Essentially, CinCin has done all the work for you: all you have to do is order yourself a fizzy Aperol Spritz or a delightful Pera Pear, kick up at the bar, and eat your way through Italy without thinking twice about which fork to use.
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