Italian’s first came calling to India for spices, especially pepper, which is prominently used in Italian cooking nowadays. Closer to my lifetime, it was Fiat and Vespa who brought along with them the style and attitude. With rapid interaction with the Romans, we got exposed to the Italian food.
I still remember my first ever pizza at the Nirula’s in 80’s. I still have the lingering taste of the cheese pizza, which I used to order year after year. As a kid, for me pizzas and pastas had always scored over noodles. Probably, it had to do with the exotic breads and highly flavoured sauces.

Till recently I was under the impression that Italian cuisine is all about pizzas, pastas, and cheese. But there is more to Italian cuisine. Each region has its own speciality and differ in terms of usage of it’s ingredients. The restaurants are now incorporating these regional specialities and flavours into their menu. One of the speciality restaurants outside the five stars that serves Italian fare, true to its regional flavours in Delhi is Tonino. Currently in its tenth year of operation, it has been enthralling its customers with brilliant food. The Tenth Anniversary celebration got bigger and better as it has ventured into a café concept. And the first Caffé Tonino has come to Connaught Place. Situated behind the PVR Plaza beside Nizam’s, it sports a typical Italian countryside house café look. It is divided into four sections; the long passage has, few two seater tables and a bar and the other three are the dining room and one of them has a wood fired pizza counter. The owners Parmeet Sawhney and his wife Simran Sawhney have bigger plans with this brand as they are looking to go national with it.
Caffé Tonino is scheduled to open in next couple of days and we went there last weekend for the preview. Chef Suman Sharma, executive chef of Tonino has curated the menu for it and for the preview; he came up with a special tasting menu. Chef Suman is an old hand at Tonino and has been with Tonino since its inception. He has sharpened his skills under the tutelage of restaurateur Tonino Generale of Napoli, Italy. The menu is majorly Italian with some American café hits.

The bar license is yet to come and still the drinks section has some interesting drinks-  specially Virgin Sangria and Beet’s Beauty. Both the drinks were very refreshing!. The salads, Beetroot and Caesar were fresh, crisp and dressed to perfection. We also loved Panini’s and Foccasia and both had vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. The wafer thin pizzas were simply outstanding. Generous toppings on the pizzas were very colourful and fresh. But my favourite dish of the evening was Arabian Honey Cake. It was moist, glazed with honey and almonds. Since it’s a café, and that to an Italian, coffee had to be on the menu. We were told that, theyhad good selections. We opted for the Americana which came hot and was aromatic.

Over the years CP has lost to malls and other shopping districts of the city. This landmark is on rejuvenation mode and some very interesting brands are coming in the next few months. The opening of Caffé Tonino is good news for CP and it will help in bringing back the old glory of CP.

Caffe Tonino
Meal for two – 1500(Approx without alcohol), Alcohol licence awaited
H Block, 1st Floor,
 PVR Plaza Building,
Connaught Place, New Delhi-01 

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