I have a couple of favourite places that I keep revisiting in Bangalore. The years have only added to their charm and increased my love for them. When friends and family ask for recommendations, these names always pop up first in my head and I don’t have any qualms about literally pimping them to all and sundry. Toscano has been on that list ever since they opened in 2005 and I’m thrilled that they are rightly rated as the “Best Italian Restaurant in Bangalore” *Times Food Guide 2014*.
Even with four outlets (in UB City, Orion Mall, Whitefield and the latest one in Jayanagar), their food has always been consistent and the quality above par. I have eaten at all the outlets so many times that I can almost recite the menu. They recently rejigged their menu and though some of my favourites haven’t made it (boo!) I am super excited to eat my way through the new one in 2015!
The look and feel of each restaurant is very similar. The green décor with the gold lettering (reminds me of Leprechauns), the casual and chic seating, chalk board menus and alfresco spaces all combine to make it perfect for either lunch or dinner. Add to that their Wine Bar with a fabulous range of wines and you have yourself a fun dining space. Some people would even call it romantic in the evenings, but I’m always focused on the food in Toscano, so all other love affairs take a back seat.
Before I start, let me tell you about the absolute best thing about Toscano for me. For lunch on weekdays (excld holidays) they have an unbelievable deal on a Three Course Meal for Rs.595++ only! Considering some of their maincourses cost about the same on a regular day – this is literally the best office lazy lunch I can ask for. When I used to work in Whitefield, we landed up at Toscano to celebrate everything from a promotion to a good hair day!
With new restaurants, I always take my camera along, but since I’ve been eating at Toscano forever and a day – the picture clicking was always relegated to the background. I finally got some pictures in recently, so here’s the spiel.
We always look forward to Toscano’s Bread Basket. Freshly baked bread (sometimes rye bread, focaccia or a fine French baguette) served with herbed butter and their delicious pesto. It’s so good that I have shamelessly asked for more on most occasions, whilst reminding myself that I have three more courses in waiting.
Bangalore grows fantastic produce, but you will still find a lacuna for places that serve a fresh and fabulous salad. Toscano luckily has never disappointed. My all-time favourite is the Aged Goats Cheese Salad (Ruccola with mixed greens, roasted artichoke, hearts of palm, wine poached figs, roasted beet, cherry tomatoes and toasted almonds with house special dressing and ripened goats cheese). Quite a mouthful right?! I also order the Ceaser Salad on a regular basis because I love how crisp the romaine lettuce is and how the creamy dressing just makes every bite come alive. Served with garlic croutons and super aged parmesan – you’d be hard pressed to find a better version. You can choose between four toppings for your salad (Alaskan smoked Salmon, Poached and marinated shrimp, Basil pesto grilled chicken or fine aged Parma Ham) to make it more divine!
They do some interesting Anti Pasti as well and the Bocconcini section is fast ascending my must order list! The Fritto Misto (Crisy fried Calamari, prawns and zucchini served with alioli) and Pesto rubbed Carpaccio (Beef tenderloin, rocket leaves and shavings of parmesan and balsamic dressing) are always spot on – so you can give those a try as well.
With pasta, pizza, seafood, meat and poultry choices – main course is where my dilemma begins. My sneaky way to resolve this, is be egging my co-diners to order things that I want to eat myself. This way, I can have my cake and eat it too!
I love the Pan-seared house spiced Norwegian Salmon. The skin is perfectly crispy and the meat is juicy pink and flaky. They serve this with a warm potato-fennel salad and creamy spinach. (I still can’t figure out how this is included in the lunch offer and not running them bankrupt – but we’ll just thank out lucky stars it’s there!)
In the pasta section they have a Spaghetti alla pescatora (Prawns, squid, vongole, mussels and basa tossed in a light tomato sauce). If you want your seafood fix on a sunny afternoon – look no further. The Fish Alla Milanese (Pan-fried herb-breaded Vietnamese Basa with mixed greens, garlic tossed vegetables and tomato coulis) is also quite popular with the pescetarians, though it beats me why they would order Basa when they could eat Salmon or Sea Bass.
I have never heard a vegetarian complain that they have no choice in Toscano. Each section of the menu has a sizable portion dedicated to make them happy. We tried the Lasagne Verdue (layered pasta, with seasonal vegetables, béchamel, Pomodoro and Mozzarella cheese). To be honest, it was just meh. The sauce lacked body and the whole dish was a little runny for me. I’d say order their Ravioli (both the spinach and the pumpkin varieties are luscious) or their Penne Arrabiata or their Farfelle Ai Formaggi (Three cheese sauce – bleu, mozzarella, parmesan with olives and rocket) to indulge in a good plate of pasta.
The traditional thin crust pizza is also a big draw here. It’s definitely for sharing, so ordering it as part of your three course meal might be a happy but over ambitious mistake. The Rustica (Bocconncini, onions, spinach, sun dried tomatoes and black olives), the Quattro Stagioni (olives, artichokes, mushrooms, broccoli, balsamic glazed figs) and the Parma Ham (Fresh mozzarella, parma ham and rucola) always make me happy.
I’ve heard the steaks are super. The Filleto al Pepe (Grilled Pepper Steak with garlic mash, caramelized onions, grilled vegetables and fried egg) made our way to the table and was polished off by Arv with minimal table conversation 😉 The Belgium braised Pork Ribs are very hard to resist – basted with hickory smoked BBQ sauce served with Ceaser Salad and fries. Try the Confit d’Antara (slowly cooked Duck confit with potato gratin, wilted spinach, figs and jus) or the Chicken De Toscano (sage infused Chicken breast, stuffed with spinach, ricotta served with roasted rosemary potatoes) if you prefer white meat.
There are 10 desserts available on any given day with some specials that regularly make their way onto the chalk board menu. Here, I definitely have my regular order and hardly deviate from it. So I can only talk about those.
- The Tiramisu – love, love, love. A beautiful square of liquor soaked sponge with softly whipped mascarpone, cream anglaise coco and coffee ice cream.
- The Crepes Suzette – all that tangy orange goodness (no longer on the menu L )
- Chocolate Kalua Mousse in almond tuile and crème anglaise
- Warm Chocolate Coffee Fudge Cake with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce.
Depending on my mood – any or all will make my day. So go ahead and order with abandon. Bon Appetit!
The Good – Definitely the food (fresh produce, quality ingredients and the brilliant plating). Consistency across different outlets also scores major points for me.
The Bad – Though the afternoon lunch deal is unbeatable, it makes you feel like you are paying a lot for the same stuff at dinner. Which is a mind game and somehow a bummer.
The Ugly – Never getting a table without a reservation and the fact that they only serve wine.
UB City, Level II
Vittal Mallya Road, Bangalore 560001.
Ph: +91 80 41738800
Parking: Available || Cost: Rs.2000/- ++ for a meal for two. Lunch Deal – Rs.595/++ for a three course meal.