New Italian delights under candlelight at Rhapsody

May 5th, 2010 - 10:51 am ICT by IANS  

By Venkatachari Jagannathan
She can twist, twirl, flip and toss the pizza dough on her hands, and now Italian chef Oriana Tirabassi has redrawn the menu at Rhapsody restaurant in Chennai. So get set to dig into some heavenly handmade pastas, antipasti and dessert pizzas - that too under candlelight! The restaurant, located at the Courtyard Marriott hotel here, is repositioning itself to attract family crowds with some fine dining.

It will offer guests authentic Italian dishes like handmade and stuffed pastas and innovative dessert pizzas as part of the new menu designed by Tirabassi, winner of the 1994 Pizza World Championship.

“I never saw the restaurant remain empty even for an hour during dinner time. I wondered whether the restaurant needed to be relaunched at all,” Tirabassi, who otherwise heads the Mezzo Mezzo Italian restaurant in JW Marriott, Mumbai, told IANS.

Courtyard Marriott executive chef Suresh Thampy gave some compulsive reasons for relaunching Rhapsody as a fine dining restaurant.

“We found the bar attracting more guests while the food sales in the restaurant were more in the snack category. Though the restaurant was not doing badly, it has the potential to do a lot better with a relaunch,” he added.

“The USP is a fine dining experience under candlelight,” he said serving antipasti, made of grilled vegetables with truffle and potato foam as starter.

“For non-vegetarians, my recommendation will be sliced San Daniele ham with melon, parmesan cheese and bruschetta,” he said.

“Changing the menu card is a careful exercise and a failure will land us in a soup!” he said bringing the minestrone di verdura or vegetable soup with croutons and parmesan.

Tonno pizza - made of grilled tuna, balsamic caramelized onions, sesame seeds and buffalo mozzarella - tastes good.

Thampy said vegetarians could try Formaggi pizza - a four-slice pizza with each piece giving a different taste.

For vegetarian pasta lovers, there is gnocchi al gorgonzola - potato dumpling, Italian blue cheese sauce. The non-vegetarians can go for spaghetti, aragosta spadellata al cognac - spaghetti with whole roast lobster, cognac, fresh herbs, extra virgin olive oil and basil cream.

According to Thampy, the relaunch necessitated many ingredients to be imported like the French duck breast and several varieties of cheese.

“Despite that, the new prices will be lower than the earlier ones owing to the economies of scale involved. Earlier the focus was more on the bar and the volume of food sales was less. Now the focus is on food sales and hence rates will be lower,” Thampy explained.

The menu card now seems wholesome for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. Non-vegetarians now have more choice with dishes made with lamb, chicken, duck, seafood and beef.

“Nearly 30 percent of the items were carried over to the new menu card. Seventy percent of the fresh menu card is made of new dishes,” Thampy said. “We have to look at the availability of ingredients, its exoticness as well as its perishability.”

Thampy suggests tagliata di manzo con carciofi alla griglia, pomodori - a simply grilled rib-eye steak with Roman artichokes, olives and sun dried tomatoes.

He expects the food sales volumes to go up by around 12 percent post-relaunch. The seating capacity however remains the same at around 50 at the restaurant and some more in the lounge area.

Coming to the end of the dinner, Thampy suggests tiramisu di Rhapsody for desert. There is also vanilla soup, coconut balls with chocolate and lemon cream.

One can also try out one of the three dessert pizzas - Tirabassi’s speciality - cioccolato, tiramisu, strudel - that serve four.

The average spend on dinner by a person at Rhapsody will now be around Rs.700 without alcohol.

-Indo Asian News Service

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