Alsa Mall is a stone’s throw from where I live. I’ve heard stories about how it was incredibly hip (think Spencer Plaza, 2003-ish) back in the nineties from my parents. There really hasn’t been a reason for me to go there, except when I grab a sandwich at Balaji Sandwich stall (the little sandwich stall outside which makes a mean chilli cheese toast).
Foodie partner, who loves his Italian food, insisted we try The Pasta Bar Veneto. After the terrors of "Italian" food at New Yorker and Pizza Hut, I was extremely hesitant. After a promise that we’d walk out if the "marinara" was made without onion/garlic (ha ha ha), we went there on a rainy Thursday evening.
The second we entered, most of my fears were washed away (with the rain, get it? So punny. Not). The restaurant has the feel of a cozy little coffee shop. Completely unpretentious. Green painted doors, soft yellow lighting, huge glass cookie jars and a blackboard with specials written on it. Perfect for date night. Foodie partner also liked that they play Premier League football on their TV set; there goes date night.
So the next thing I was worried about was being fleeced. Being charged exorbitantly for both lousy food and bad service is too much to take, and an all too familiar feeling. The last of my fears disappeared when I opened the menu.
The first thing that strikes you is that the coffee section is very reasonable, the antipasti and sandwiches reasonable, and that it is open all day (11 AM to 11 PM, I think). I like it already! We ordered a soup, pasta and a chicken steak; all tests of a good Italian restaurant.
The soup was a little bit disappointing. I wanted a full-bodied minestrone brimming with veg, the tomato paste smacking you with the first sip. This was a little watery for me; I like my soup to suffice as a meal. But as a clear soup, it was pretty decent, had parmesan on top and buttery garlic bread on the side. I hoped the grilled chicken would make up for it.
And did it! A plate that was tailor-made for me. Succulent chicken breast, marinated with just enough spice, sitting on a bed of garlicky mashed potato. The veggies were steamed to perfection, and weren’t just there as garnish. Crusty garlic bread was also offered. For the ambience and taste, worth the 200 bucks you pay for it!
Foodie partner (let’s call him W) loved his pasta (?Penne Arrabiata). Cooked al dente, simmering in tomato sauce, flecked with chilli flakes, herbs and minced meat. Oh, with the omnipresent garlic bread (not complaining!)
We were stuffed, but decided to split a dessert. We chose the Caramel Cheesecake. Light, velvety and a perfect ending. Next time, I’m going to insist on a dessert with chocolate, though!
Service: 4 stars
Ambience: 3-1/2 stars
Paisa vasool: 4 stars
Taste: 3-1/2 stars.PastaBar Veneto has two locations: one on Alsa Mall on Montieth Road, and the other on Burkitt Road, T. Nagar.