"I think in the fast food sector much of the authenticity and subtlety in Italian cuisine are lost in the making. I think I wanted to preserve that authentic nature in my food in Piano Piano."
Through the hustle and bustle of the city, you go through the narrow winding streets of Lalitpur to find a humble restaurant waiting for you to enter. their premises and give you an authentic Italian experience like few can challenge. Piano Piano South, a branch of the Piano Piano restaurant, is everything a connoisseur would want from a restaurant. Located deep in the concrete jungles lies a restaurant offering sanctuary from the hectic city life to give you a calm and soothing eating experience a few can aspire to give. With soothing jazz melody playing in the background, with lush green grass and scenery for my eyes to rest upon, Piano Piano South has everything anyone needs to have a relaxing and fun experience.
We start with a big starter dish: the Antipasti Insalata Di Pollo. This dish is a culinary masterpiece with all the ingredients being adjusted to perfection. The base of the dish, the salad is made of freshly cut lettuce with purple lettuce mixed with it and some olive oils which gives vitality and freshness to the dish. This is contrasted with the texture-heavy and oily bacon, egg and Parmesan giving off the savoury smell and the literal meat of the dish. The olives meanwhile, help assuage the contrast between these two different aspects of the dish by being oily yet organic. The croutons absorb all the different flavours imbued in this dish to provide our taste buds with short bursts of everything the dish has to offer. The dill sauce gives some respite and some additional flavouring to the dish, creating an insatiable blend of ingredients that no one will be able to resist.
Now we move on to the signature Italian dish that we all know and love: the Pizza. More specifically, the Prosciutto E Funghi. At first glance, it might seem simplistic and look like any other pizza on the market. But Piano Piano can capture the subtlety of the Italian pizza-making process very clearly. The crust and the border of the pizza are airy and porous and contain a lot of air, making it light and crisp. The tomato and cheese are in proportion with neither causing the other’s tastes to disappear into the salivary background. It has the oil texture just right with enough oil from the meat to give its flavour but not too much to be greasy and be soggy and drip out of the pizza. And the mushroom and the bacon are perfectly cooked to achieve maximum flavour and fun while eating the pizza.
Now we ramp it down a little with the Ravioli Agli Spinaci. While the serving size and the presentation of the dish might make it seem modest, it is heavyweight in both its quality and taste. The pasta parcels are of the right size and texture, melting into the mouth releasing all the spinach and ricotta goodness for us to experience and feast upon. But all of this has just been one part of the dish as the original tomato sauce lies below all these paste parcels waiting for the customer to delve into and mix it with the parcels. The tomato sauce provides a nice change of flavour and some moisture to the dish. Truly a quick and well-made dish for anyone wanting to dabble in a bit of the Italian palette.
And to truly finish off, we eat one of the most famous Italian desserts known worldwide: the Gelato. The blending of hot Gelato and the cold dark chocolate ice cream. The sprinkling of powdered sugar on top tickles the tongue for more flavour while the gelato delivers with the soothing texture of the outside giving way to chocolate drip oozing into your mouth giving you delicious bliss. And the ice cream gives you the chill respite with the combo being very savoury.
When asked what he wanted to portray in his food in Piano Piano, Sushant Maharjan the head chef of Piano Piano answered, ‘Everyone nowadays knows about Italian food and cuisine. We are not trying to reinvent the wheel. But in the fast-food sector, I think much authenticity and subtlety are lost in the food. I think I wanted to preserve that authentic nature in my food.’ And I think that summarised the experiences pretty much the ‘Piano Piano’ experience. Whether it is the olives in a salad or the ricotta inside the pasta or the texture of the Gelato or the cheese in the pizza, Piano Piano takes delicate care and has attention to detail to the small things that make it unique from other restaurants.
Text and Photos by: Samyak Dhar Tuladhar