Buon appetito at La PiazzaItalian food festival at Hyatt Place whets the appetite for authentic Mediterranean cuisine
Fabrizio Berretta was an important member of the Italian delegation to the G20 Summit in New Delhi last September. No, not as his country's official.
Berretta is a neighbour in Piedmont of Italian Minister of Economy Giancarlo Giorgetti who invited him along as the official chef to the Summit, cooking gourmet meals for attending heads of state, including Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.
After the Italian delegation flew back, Beretta stayed on in New Delhi and is now a chef at the Hyatt Regency in the Indian capital. He was there this week at the Zing World of Flavours restaurant at Kathmandu’s Hyatt Place and its La Piazza Italian Food Festival.
“The G20 was a one of a kind experience, and the highlight was Prime Minister Meloni’s young daughter loving my pizza, and her mother joking she may not return to Italy because it was so tasty,” recalls Chef Berretta.
Since September, Berretta (pictured) has been introducing Italian cuisine to mostly Indian guests at the hotel’s La Piazza restaurant. He is pleasantly surprised that even in a much smaller city, Kathmandu has so many authentic Italian places.
He has also been sampling Nepali food, and says compared to north Indian cuisine the dishes here are less spicy and oily which means one can taste the real ingredients, and the spices do not overpower the real flavours.
The La Piazza Food Festival offers a Trattoria-style fine dining experience over the six-course menu till 4 February, so those interested still have the weekend to stop by for a meal. There is a live rendition of Italian tunes, waiters wearing red kerchiefs and there is a selection of premium wine from Vespers. Hint: go with the Rosso Montalcino.
The Cheese Croquet puts guests in the right frame of mind with pesto mayo and tomato pickle. The Mushroom Flan has a delicate taste and melts in the mouth.
The Minestrone is anything but a regular Minestrone, and has a rustic presentation using kidney and soya beans. Almost a quasi qwati in jhol.
Go easy on the Gnocchi because it is followed by the flagship dish, Chicken Saltimbocca (pictured), the quintessential boneless chicken breast topped with fried bacon and doused in wine with mashed potato, broccoli and asparagus on the side. Some guests may be so ‘fulfilled’ they cannot partake in the Lemon Sorbet dessert.
Some cuisines make it across the world and become global, Italian being one of them. So what is it about Italian that makes it so cosmopolitan?
“We are not a very technical cuisine but our ingredients come from different regions, I think it has to do with the Roman empire and its influences,” explains Berretta, who used to run restaurants in Italy and Denmark, and whose family owns a vineyard in Piedmont.
His father runs the winery and his mother sells salami and cheese. He says the winery in particular is suffering because of heat stress due to climate change.
This is Berretta’s first time in Nepal and he has also been giving cooking classes at the Hyatt. He has been to Kalimati vegetable market which was a unique experience. But what stood out during his Nepal visit?
“Nepali coffee, it's outstanding. Chef’s kiss,” he says, gesturing appropriately.
La Piazza Comes to Kathmandu
Zing World of Flavors
Hyatt Place, Tahachal
Until 4 February