Having spent the last decade scouring the markets in India for the finest local produce, Chef Alessandro knows more about the finest local produce than most. Born in Genoa, he moved to India ten years ago and has been churning out the most authentic Italian dishes ever since at the Grand Hyatt’s Cellini. He returns to his native Italy annually to collect and bring back with him an arsenal of classic Italian recipes to delight his Indian audience. The twist in the tale here is that this true blue Italian chef creates the most luxurious and delectable dishes using primarily Indian ingredients. So well appreciated is his innovativeness and finesse that he now travels to other properties to train chefs in his unique style of cooking.
Among the bestsellers from the new menu at Cellini is the Burrata, a creamy pouch of cheese that oozes a velvety liquid cheese when you cut into it accompanied by white balsamic caramelised onion and sweet and sour sun-dried tomatoes. The Burrata, which is simply excellent, also features prominently on Cellini’s other signature dishes, such as the Burrata pizza and the Asparagus Burrata Risotto, a creamy cheesy rice confection. Shares Persico, “I prefer not to use imported Burrata and the quality may not necessarily be consistent whereas I get a very good quality local Burrata here that I source from a local cheese producer located on the border of Gujarat and Maharashtra.”
In fact, he confides, that even the goat milk cheese that he uses for his Beetroot Ravioli comes from a local cheese producer.
A culinary masterpiece, this dish is comprised of wafer thin slices of Beetroot Carpaccio stuffed with delicately herbed goat cheese and adorned with black balsamic reduction and pomegranate kernels for just a hint of acidity to cut through the rich creaminess. Shares Persico, “All the herbs and spices that I use here at Cellini are grown right here locally, through hydroponic farming. In earlier days it was very difficult to get the right kind of ingredients here for my preparations. Now however, things have greatly improved as the awareness about different cuisines has been increasing and more and better varieties of produce have become available.”
Among the offerings on Cellini’s new menu are highlights such as Chicken Scallopini - tender escalopes of young chicken dipped in a herb imbued evocative parmesan and egg batter and pan fried in clarified butter. Equally noteworthy is the pan fried Basa, with brown butter, almonds and potato mash and the star ingredient being....yes, you guessed it right, the excellent local seafood!!
Unlike most other fine dine Italian restaurants that use ready-made imported pastas, the pasta at Cellini is specially rolled out and hand cut every night which is quite an experience to behold if you are lucky enough to witness it first hand. Ever the good humoured jolly fellow, Persico concludes on a sweet note as he says “In my Tiramisu (traditional Italian cake, coffee and cheese dessert) only the mascarpone cheese I use is imported. Everything else that I use in all my desserts - the butter, flour, eggs and sugar are all pure Indian!” he guffaws. Mamma Mia!