Tucked away on the eighth floor of The Leela Kempinski in Mumbai is Stella, an exclusive fine dining restaurant, offers exquisitely simple Italian cuisine under scored by subtle flavours, creative flair and delicate finesse, writes Suneeta Sodhi Kanga. Pictured: Stella, Italian fine dining restaurant at The Leela Kempinski, Mumbai
The menu is based on Italian regional dishes prepared with authentic ingredients and the freshest seasonal items, complemented by a wide range of quality wines. The fine dining experience starts when you walk through the impressive floor to ceiling wine library, housing a vast array of wines from around the world.
Exquisite furnishings and stellar artworks contribute to the special ambience of the restaurant. An exclusive Private Dining Room seats up to 12 guests. I had the pleasure of dining there with a friend recently when Chef Marco Priolo, had just created a spanking new menu. We sampled the set five-course menu which he promised would show us a good cross section of Italian food. Chef Marco has delighted the appetites of many eminent personalities like the famous Italian singer Pavarotti , Pierce Brosnan, the King of Thailand, Fabio Capello – coach of the English soccer team – and the Prime Minister of Italy. Naturally we allowed ourselves to be guided by his recommendations for both food and wine.
Chef Marco presented an exquisite homemade marinated Scottish salmon with olive-bread salad, roasted hazelnuts and parsley sauce and an Angus beef carpaccio, Cipriani sauce, French beans, Radicchio and Reggiano cheese. Both the dishes paired beautifully with a glass of Taittinger, Brut Reserve. The faint gold of the wine with its balanced notes and blossoming bouquet mingled well with the delicate flavours of the food. The lettuce, crisp and crunchy, rounded off a perfect first course.
Left: Chef Marco Priolo
By now we were primed for a flawless evening with piped Italian music providing an accompaniment to the gastronomic treat in store. In true Italian style our next course was a little pasta. The potato Gnocchi with Gorgonzola, walnuts and spinach cream and the Seafood Lasagna with truffle cauliflower cream, olives and sun dried tomatoes were both excellent, paired with a glass of Pinot Grigio and Verduzzo, IGT, Masianco, Masi, 2009.
After a taste of Zonin Valpolicella 2009, we opted for the more robust Sangiovese, Chianti, Piccini, 2009 from the wine-by-the-glass list. The Pan Roasted Sea Bass, eggplant parmigiana, carrots mash in a Prosecco white wine sauce was exceptional. Although the seared Duck Breast with orange jus, stewed bell peppers, and almond and potato purée was also very good, I felt it was a tad underdone for the Indian palate.
After a generous helping from the assorted Cheese Platter we culminated this luxurious gastronomical meal with a delicious Chocolate millefeuille with variations of chocolate mousse and a White chocolate soufflé’ with Raspberry heart and licorice sauce.
A delectable and fitting end to a marvellous meal.