Little Italy – Besant Nagar, Chennai – Restaurant Review

 

Little Italy is one of the restaurants that we frequent on weekends. Atleast, on the weekends that we feel like eating Italian. An added bonus is that this is a vegetarian restaurant, which is fantastic for us in terms of variety and choice available in the menu. Little Italy Elliots Beach, as the Besant Nagar branch is called, is the one located closest to us.

In general, we don’t photograph much in restaurants because we prefer eating our food undisturbed, and photographing each dish before you get to eat it is like, well, tiring. Especially when you’re hungry and waiting to just shove food in your mouth. So unless I go to a restaurant with the specific and express purpose of writing a post about it later, I just prefer to enjoy the conversation and the food, without the intrusion of cameras and mobiles. Having said that, last weekend was one of those days when my husband was trying out a new camera lens, and was more than happy to photograph all the food on the table (thanks for the pictures!!) , so I just thought, why not – since it had been a while since I reviewed any restaurant on the blog. Hence was born this review 🙂

Ambience

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Photo courtesy: Little Italy

The restaurant is located in a bungalow-styled house, re-purposed into  restaurant. They have public as well as private seating on different levels, and the general atmosphere is quite homely and cozy. There’s a valet desk that will take care of your vehicle once you arrive, and there is a reservation desk that takes care of seating you. There is a small waiting area with chairs just outside the restaurant (but within the compound), which is quite pleasant.

The Food

For starters, we ordered Cream of asparagus soup (sadly, I don’t have good pictures of this) and Bruschetta. Now, I’m a tomato soup girl through and through. I’ve tried other soups like spinach, sweetcorn veg, minestrone, etc, but have always been partial to the tomato soup with those golden crunchy croutons. However, it was interesting to notice an asparagus soup on the menu, and since its summer and asparagus is in season now, we ordered this dish for a change.

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Sun-dried Tomatoes and Olives Bruschetta, a perfect foil to the soup (not pictured).

For the main course, we ordered a pizza. The pizza was customised as per our instructions (we wanted a whole-wheat base, and the pizza to be brushed with chilli oil while baking) and delivered piping hot to our table. The crust was thin and crisp, and the toppings were fresh. The pizza was saucy – not greasy or overly dry.

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Pizza Mellino – fresh tomato sauce, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, black olives, green olives, pickled onions, jalapeño peppers, roasted red-yellow capsicum and mozzarella (brushed with chilli oil on top of the pizza, on request)
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Absolutely luscious and lip-smacking pizza!
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Plate polished clean.
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Creme Caramel Custard

When it comes to dessert, there are two dishes in Little Italy that will not disappoint you. One is the Sizzling Brownie with Vanilla Ice-cream (that we sadly did not order this time); and the other one is the Creme Caramel Custard. My husband swears by the Sizzling Brownie as one of the best in the city, whereas my go-to dessert is the Custard.

IMHO, the creme caramel is undoubtedly one of the best desserts that Little Italy makes. Every time I order it, I cannot but marvel at the consistency of the dessert on my table. Each time, the custard has beautiful undertones of vanilla, cooked silky-smooth with just the perfect amount of sweetness; the caramel is a perfect golden color with an ever-so-slight hint of bitter, that just dissolves in your mouth beautifully, making you savor every bite and transporting you to food nirvana!

This is definitely something I’m looking at recreating at home – with a few unusual flavour combinations. So when I get it right, it will be on the blog 😉

Silky smooth, melt-in-the-mouth custard resting on a lake of perfectly golden caramel sauce

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Silky smooth, melt-in-the-mouth custard resting on a bed of perfectly golden caramel sauce

Service

Service throughout our meal was pretty attentive and friendly. Most of our requests were noted down and acquiesced with. However, there was a gap between finishing our starters and receiving our main course on the table (about a good 15-18 mins). We were slightly disappointed because we were hoping to avoid this wait, especially since we ordered the main course along with the starter course at the beginning. However, dessert arrived pretty quickly post the main course. Maybe it had to do with our choice of dessert?

Price

Overall, we paid around 1.6k including taxes, which is quite the standard in the city for this kind of restaurant. Portion sizes are decent (especially pizza and pasta courses) and hence value for money. Starters could be a tad better, in my opinion. Also, the dessert menu could be wider in terms of choice.

Overall

A nice and cozy all-vegetarian option for people wanting to try Italian cuisine. Robust flavours, good service and quiet dining area, suitable for taking friends, families and children along. Pleasantly surprising quality and consistency of dishes served.

May I suggest a walk on the beach post-dinner, perhaps? Elliot’s beach is but a stone’s throw away 🙂 I would definitely recommend this restaurant, it is a must visit and reliable option on weekends where you want comfort food – of the Italian sort !

 

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