In a city that is bursting at its seams with Italian restaurants, there is a new kid in town. Recently opened in the smart Ninex Mall at Sohna Road, Café Bel Cibo has all it takes to become a great place to hang out. The interiors are colourful, brightly-lit, inviting. The café has a no-pretence décor, clearly communicating that the focus here is good food.
In fact, Bel Cibo in Italian means “great food”. When asked to describe the soul of the restaurant, Chef Vinay, an unassuming veteran—with 18 years of haute Italian cooking under his belt—puts it simply, “This is a family place with a focus on good food. You should feel at home here, and enjoy our food.”
His quiet confidence is confirmed by the first dish that is served. Red pesto minestrone (Rs. 115) is a hearty peasant soup of tomatoes, with many other veggies and penne pasta – just what this cold January day needs. What is remarkable is the fresh pesto that is served on the melba toast that accompanies the soup. I can clearly taste a great combination of basil, pine nuts, garlic and parmesan.
I have often noticed that a chef’s talents are most evident in the simplest of dishes – and it is true of the Caesar’s salad (Rs. 195) here. Very fresh iceberg lettuce, combined with parmesan shavings and croutons—and a sauce made from anchovy mayo, lemon juice and parmesan cheese—makes it one of the best salads I have had in a long time. Some trivia about this salad—contrary to popular belief, it does not derive its name from Julius Caesar. It is named after an Italian American immigrant named Caesar Cardini, who invented the dish when a Fourth of July 1924 rush depleted the kitchen’s supplies.
For the pasta course, I decide to try the chef’s recommendation – penne arrabiata with pepperoni sausage and ricotta (Rs. 295). It is penne pasta tossed in a sauce made of tomatoes, garlic, white wine and chilly flakes, along with sliced sausages and ricotta cheese. It is a competent dish, but I am not sure if the addition of ricotta to this dish works for me. The entrée of grilled chicken in rosemary sauce (Rs. 295) follows. The chicken breast is grilled to perfection, retaining its moist texture – and is served with a home made brown sauce with rosemary leaves, and a side of mashed potatoes and sautéed vegetables.
It is time for a sweet ending. The recommended chocolate lava cake (Rs. 110), is gooey, sinfully divine, and bel cibo indeed.
With its perfect combination of a good location, great interiors, thoughtful service, reasonable pricing and great food, Café Bel Cibo is the place to dine in.