Thursday, March 10, 2011


Chef Cristiano Tomei, The Rock Star!!

For the first time, Hyatt Regency Delhi and Alta Cucina Italiana have come together with the patronage of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Italy, to bring the Bella Italia Food Festival to Delhi. The soon-to-be Michelin-starred chef, Cristiano Tomei, from Restaurant L’Imbuto in Viareggio will showcase his special recipes at La Piazza restaurant from 7 to 13 March 2011.

Bella Italia, the only event that tours the world to promote high-end Italian cooking and wine, is organised by the Alta Cucina Italiana Association (, a group of selected Italian chefs from different regions of Italy who are not only the owners of their restaurants, but also teach and give several cooking performances at such Italian fairs as Vinitaly, Squisito and others.

Chef Cristiano Tomei from Viareggio

I met up with Tuscan Chef Cristiano from Viareggio, whose cooking is a reflection of the region’s traditional and modern gastronomy.

Some of this exciting chef’s dishes are the Cacciucco, Gnocchi, and pancotto interpreted in a modern way, but Chef Cristiano remains inspired by his local culture.

In 1995, he graduated from the Nautical Institute of Viareggio but, quite soon, realised that dealing with boats would not be his future profession. He then decided to hit the road and visit some of the most famous restaurants in Europe. On his return to his home town in 2001, he decided to become a cook and run a restaurant on Viareggio Beach. In 2002, he decided to open his own restaurant, finally finding an old carpentry factory that he turned into a fancy restaurant, which he named L’Imbuto (literally “the funnel”).

He decided on this name as he intended to invite guests to “channel” themselves from the day-to-day routine to the magic of his cooking kingdom.

In 2009, he was chosen as a candidate for a Michelin star, due to be granted this year. Chef Cristiano’s cooking is strongly tied to the local region of Tuscany, and inspired by his farmer family, focusing on traditional dishes and tastes, as well as on fresh ingredients, although he interprets them with a modern and creative touch. Given his birthplace in Viareggio, a beach town, his seafood dishes are both remarkable and original.

My tete-a-tete with Chef Tomei

· Your mission in life?

Chef Tomei - Spreading joy and happiness thru good food .

· Your philosophy?

Italian way of Life – enjoy

· Your style of cooking?

I like to play around with classical dishes, giving them my won creative twist…eg my soup is my own intrepretation…

· How difficult it is to be chosen for a Michelin star?

Verrryyyyyyyy. Well the inspector comes and tastes everything, inspects even the toilet ….

· What do you like the most?

Food, Women and music – jazz music.

My Special Lunch Menu

With Wines - Bertani soave`08 &

Bertani valpolicella`08

Chef Tomei`s Menu


Cooked bread, mixed vegetables, extra virgin olive oil, aged cheese

Bertani soave`08

Gnocchi con cipolle e acciughe dissalate

Dumplings, onions, unsalted anchovies

Bertani valpolicella`08

Tagliolini all’anatra

Tagliolini, duck sauce

Bertani valpolicella`08


Typical Tuscan cake, zucchini vegetables, vanilla ice-cream

On Special Request, Chef Tomei gives me his secret recipe for Pancotto. AHHHHH, try folks!

Serve 4


50 gr tomato

50 gr zucchini

50 gr carrot

50 gr onion

50 gr celery

50 gr asparagus

30 ml olive oil

200 ml vegetable stock

400 gr toasted bread

150 gr Grated parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the bread in cubes and toast in oven. Cut the vegetables in small cubes. Heat the oil, add the vegetables and cook till start to become soft. Add the vegetables stock and the cubes of bread. When the bread soak all the soak the soup is ready. Pour it in a soup cup, sprinkle with grated parmesan and serve very hot.


Relax, Have Fun And Eat Well At Amici !

The Freaky, absolutely delightful Food Lover Andrea!!

Amici is my kind of a place: a nice casual eatery located in the corner of a buzzing mall with wholesome comfort food. I was all smiles as I walked into the café; the courteous manager, Anand Thakur and one enthusiastic talker (later got to know, he was Andrea) engaged in knowing if the guest was enjoying the food, caught my eye and I smiled better!

The wood construction, simple colourful furniture, large neat counter tops running by the side of the large sunny window added to the happy and cheerful feel. And I thought, ‘Wow’ – all this in the middle of the mall!!

Amici as the name implies “Friends” in Italian, is truly the theme of the café as it really offers a place to meet, chat and eat well.

The restaurant has 50 covers and is open from 11am to 11pm, hence ideal for a cup of coffee and quick bite for those wanting a respite after a heavy shopping expedition. Or a cheerful treat joint offering a plethora of Italian pizzas, pastas, fresh baked goods, salads, soups, mains and amazing coffee for all those hanging out in the mall.


Amici seamlessly blends together the convenience of location, alfresco and indoor stylish dining options, free wi-fi and book reading corners.

The décor exudes warmth and homely feel. Says Andrea, “I wanted to create a café which has an urban Italian and casual feel and is inviting enough where friends can come, meet and have a fun time.”


The menu looks interesting and the open kitchen showcasing the chef busy rolling out a pizza, or conjuring up a great pasta, makes it even more tempting.

The focus in designing the menu has been on offering good quality food at affordable price. Beetroot Ravioli, BBQ Chicken Burger, Piri Piri Chicken Pizzas, Confused Confucius, Shakahari Favourite, Garden Fresh Salad are Andrea’s recommendations. The list actually goes on.

For desserts, the counter full of beautiful, tempting bakery helps you choose what looks best.

Andrea Aftab Pauro, The messenger of good food

The happy go lucky Andrea is the creator of the hugely successful Baci and now a chain of Amici.

Andrea Aftab Pauro is a half Indian half Italian enthusiastic restaurateur. Andrea has always held a strong sense of passion in the field of hospitality. Armed with a degree in hotel management from the University Of Denver, Colorado, his passion has seen great results.

The genes too worked well as Andrea has an ancestral heritage of hospitality, the iconic Imperial Hotel in New Delhi being founded by the Indian side of his family in 1934.

The highly ambitioned Andrea found no such concept of authentic Italian food in Delhi and came up with Baci in Sunder Nagar in 2004. It was after Baci’s success, that Andrea started the success trail of Amici.

As I dig into my mushroom cream pasta, Andrea looks at me, waiting to see my reaction. He smiles as he understands I am loving it and I get into a tete-a-tete with him.

Here it goes:

· So what is one single mission of yours in launching restaurants?

Andrea – Create a ‘happy’ place where people can eat and enjoy. Simply love to be there and have good food.

· What elements you kept in mind for Amici ?

Andrea : Many, its my dream project as it is in a mall so all the more difficult to create some character. I wanted :

· It to be absolute spic and span.

· Low on maintenance.

· Have lot of natural light.

· Have natural, homely, comfy feel and not stiff environs.

· Urban industrial finish.

· Open kitchen to make it very informal.

· Easy Going Café.

There must have been many challenges in your journey so far? Name few.

Andrea : Yes, many. Firstly, real estate is really expensive in Delhi. Secondly, there is no system of getting consistent quality of good ingredients. One day it is good, other day it could be really bad. And third, the cost of food supplies is very high.

· What is more important, Food or Ambience?

Andrea : Both 100%. No compromise on either. No half half.

· What do you have to say about Delhi diners?

Andrea : Oh, they are the lot that like to eat well. They are also opening up to experiment but need to be given good options.

· Expansion Plans?

Andrea : Next Amici in West Delhi in Pacific mall and soon next and next……

· What is your favourite cuisine?

Andrea : Anything, I love and live to eat. Right from chana bhatura to Japanese to Italian, I simply love to gorge.

· Your motto in life?

Eat well, live well. Don’t get too serious about your food, just enjoy.

Visit Amici for great quality food made with the finest ingredients offered at great value prices. You can also take delight in the Illy coffee, one of the most tempting coffees, served at Amici.

Signature Dishes At Amici

* Pizzas - Salsiccia Pizza, Caprese Pizza

* Chorizo Amatriciana Pasta

· Tenderloin Burger

Signature Drinks

Shakes –Dark Chocolate Oreo Shake

Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake

Coffee – Café Macchiato by Illy

Where : Select City Walk, Saket, Delhi