In a city of seasoned diners who are spoilt for choice, it takes a lot to create a stir. And yet, Perbacco (Italian for “my word”), the newest restaurant at The Lodhi in Delhi, is doing just that. Having sparked an onslaught of enquiries since its launch announcement in 2018, the restaurant’s finally opening doors this month. I understand the reason behind the buzz when I meet Chef Adriano Baldassarre in his kitchen. He’s prepping for lunch, stirring a pot of bubbling tomatoes into a puree and reminiscing about how the colours remind him of the fiery escargot his mother made for him as a child. “Watching her cook was what drew me in,” he smiles. “She gave me a sense of tradition, which has been integral to my cooking. I got my technique from [celebrity chef] Giorgio [Locatelli], though. He taught me how to handle food, respect ingredients.”
It was Locatelli who really started his career. He took the then-15-year-old Baldassarre abandon his fusion MO, and stay true to his roots. And so the menu is all about umami (that prizes savoury over the other four basic tastes), with handpicked, traditional dishes from various regions of Italy.
As I take a sip of his onion soup, with its sweet saffron undertones, the gamble Baldassarre’s taking becomes apparent. From the mozzarella-anchovy aperitivo to his beetroot tartare (which makes a pedestrian ingredient surprisingly delectable), everythin