Some restaurants open to big hype and conjure up big expectations. Rarely do they actually match the hype with quality. Monza is yet another example of a restuarant with great hype and true potential, but that in the end fails to deliver.

Monza is located in the hub of central Bombay – Phoenix Mills. It has a nicely done contemporary chic decor with diffused lighting, dark wood paneling and nice tableware. The entrance to the restaurant passes by a huge plate glass window which shows the decent sized wine cellar & tasting room within. A great way to set the mood and create a niche, Monza gets full marks for ambience.

The food looks very interesting as well. Largely Italian, as the name would suggest, the chef has been creative and there are a few fusion dishes which introduce asian influences and spice to popular Italian dishes. Sadly, many other dishes simply fall in “no man’s land” – not authentic, and just not good fusion either. The bruschetta we started with is one such sample. What should be a nice balance of fresh tomatoes, basil, garlic and olive oil on a slice of a baguette, turns  out to be a bit too garlicky, and our plate seemed to have been spiced up. Normally a big fan of spice, the Hound did not like this creation at all. There was a daily special of mushrooms in herbs and olive oil and that was actually quite nice, allowing the delicate flavour of the herbs to come through.

The main course had a few good options. The Pesto Penne was cheesy and much more thick than the traditional genovese option. Very much similar to the Italian American interpretation of Pesto, which tends to favour cheese, it still makes for a tasty, albeit heavy, meal. The Penne Arrabiata is again an instance of the normally spicy tomato base being fired up even more. In this case, the Indianised interpretation seems to work quite well and the Hound gives this a thumbs up!

The real star of the show was the mushroom rissotto. Not too creamy, not too dry, and just perfectly mushroomy, this dish is a not-miss.

We had the Tiramisu for dessert, but the consistency was more that of cheesecake. The light marscapone cream seemed to be either missing or insufficiently whipped. The other desserts did not seem too appetizing either.

The wine cellar created much of the hype around Monza, and it was quite a disappointment. While many old world wines (wines from France, Italy, Germany) were present, they seemed to lack good representation from the New World (Australia, Chile). The lack of a good Riesling or Chianti was also immediately apparent. The Hound is a fan of Sula, and the lack of the full Sula bouquet also did not speak well of the sommelier.

The service was a big disappointment for a restaurant of this class. Slow and lacking creativity, the server had few recommendations and that will cost them one 1/2 bone.

Pricing was high and given the holes mentioned above, we do not believe they managed to justify the cost.

In the end, a nice place to soak in ambience, but Monza is not the best place for good Italian food in the city – not by a long shot!

My recco – Go to Monza for a light lunch or dinner. Try the rissotto, and expect the overall experience to be good but not exceptional.

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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This is easily the best Thai restaurant in Bombay. We have been to Thai Pavilion at the President and Thai Banh in Bandra. Both are very very good. But, given the pricing and quality mixture, no other place fits the bill quite like Joss.

To be fair to Joss, they bring great food from all over South & South East Asia. They even have a decent spread from the Far East. Sri Lankan curries, Sushi and Burmese Khowsuey all figure on this menu and I am very confident that they are all top notch.

However, for the uninitiated, we would recommend you focus on the food from Thailand and Indonesia. Veg Thai Spring rolls and Tom Yum Soup are both great ways to get the meal underway. They also have a good green papaya salad – a must try for those who live spice.

For the main course, we would recommend Thai Green Curry or Penang Curry. The penang curry has a great peanut flavour and is something we would recommend. The Pahd Thai is also good though not the best. There is also a nice option to try the Thai fried rice with pineapples in it. For those who pooh-pooh cooked pineapples, try it!

But, for something truly unique try the Indonesian veg nasi goreng (fried rice). The flavour is quite different and gently fried oconut adds a nice touch to this dish.

Desserts are good and the staple fried banana with ice-cream is there. They also have some good pastries on offer.

Pricing is a little expensive, but the food is well worth the bill. Service is courteous and knowledgeable and can guide you through the many new dishes you should explore when you visit the latest 5-bone eatery profiled by the Hound.

My recco – Go for dinner and explore South East asian cuisine to the fullest. Don’t have anything you have heard of before! 

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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Step into this modern restaurant on a small bylane off Pali Naka and you are transferred instantly to a Pizzeria – no, not in Italy – in Little Italy, New York. The mix of modernity, big city feel & traditional and authentic italian cuisine is a great mix.

 The ambience is modern & minimalist. Large sofas, chairs and booths make it a place you feel comfortable sitting in for a while.

The food is traditional northern italian. They have a decent pesto pasta though the quest for authentic alfredo does not find an answer here. The pasta is cooked perfectly to an al dente consistency and that is good to see. My pick of the bunch would be the penne with mushrooms in olive oil with italian basil. The range of vegetarian pasta options is decent enough, thought not incredible.

The bruschetta is fantastic and makes for a great start to a meal. They have great thin crust italian pizza (not quite the giant slices of NYC, but great stuff). They serve pizza by the slice and that is unique to them in Bombay, as far as we know.

The desserts and drinks are good. They push the giant blueberry cheescake, but I would vote for the equally gigantic chocolate mousse.

The one giant catch – they dont accept credit cards. Hope they have that fixed by now. The good news – the bill isn’t that big anyway.

My recco – A great place for lunch with friends. Order some bruschetta, pizza and wine and soak in the ambience.

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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Every so often there is a shift in the benchmark. The advent of Celini is one such instance.

For years, Bombay has benchmarked authentic italian food to the lovely Trattoria restaurant in Cuffe Parade. Time for Trattoria to step aside – there’s a new sheriff in town!

Celini is breath-taking in its high ceiling, modern ambience. Large comfortable sofas await you along with soothing pastel coloured walls. Modern art adorns the walls and your plate is the realm of italian classics.

This restaurant may have the best vegetarian risotto anywhere. An Italian friend ate here recently and remarked that it was as good as back home. Another must have is the wood-fired pizza. Look for the real thing here. Minimal toppings, max flavour and just the right amount of cheese.

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To accompany the meal, fresh bufala mozzarella with tomatoes and basil leaves is recommended. The pastas are all good though the vegetarian range is limited to 4-5 options here.

Some of the finest wines are available and having your pizza with a top quality pinot grigio is recommended.

The service is phenomenal but you do pay for this experience. Its an expensive meal, but you will want to come back for more.

My recco – Plan a meal here to impress your partner. Order a nice wine, some antipasti and wood-fired pizza. Enjoy this modern masterpiece of a restaurant with classical italian cuisine.

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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So we come to it finally. A 5-bone eatery. This place has it all – the food, the ambience, the beautiful people, live music, art – what else could one ask for?

The food at OOB is spectacular. You could possibly get better sizzlers or Fondue or pasta, but it would not taste as good. 🙂

With tons of options to choose from, its tough to pick. But thats why they pay me the piddly bucks. To start with, sample the wine and drinks menu. The Sangria is a standout as is the caipirinha. The beer and hard booze list is decent and the range of mocktails is robust. While they offer a decent collection of international wines, the domestic selection is probably their weakest point. No Sula wines on the list mean you dont get the Dindori Shiraz or Chenin Blanc.

The starters are delectable. I would recommend either the pesto crostini platter or the stuffed mushrooms. If you cant decide, order both! The list of salads is very good as well.

The main course is all about the bakes and sizzlers for me. There are some excellent pastas, but try one of the bakes instead – maybe the Veg Exotica. Nice cheese, without overwhelming the palate. In the sizzlers, the veg sizzler with barbeque sauce is my pick.

But the great thing about OOB is the ambience. A huge canvas canopy covers the large outdoor seating area. Kept cool by giant fans in the summer, there is a variety of seating from comfy chairs to floor seating. Take your pick. Live music is there most nights and there is even a small art gallery for you to browse through. This is one place which rocks at night and is the ultimate “chill pill” over lunch. So much so that it manages to attract everyone – bankers, housewifes, students, artists, media folk and even actors. Need i say more?

Well, I will. OOB is perfect for almost any occasion – working lunch, special parties etc. But the best idea would be to head here with your partner or some close friends. Get some food, drink and enjoy a meal the way you wish every meal could be.

My recco – A 5-boner means GO NOW!

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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You will find me very rarely give 4 bones to a restaurant that dares to have only 5-7 vegetarian dishes on its menu. This would be one such occasion.
Taling Pling Savoury Gastrocafe sits on the 3rd floor of the CentralWorld mall, in the very heart of the prime shopping district. Its inside a mall. Surely that should be strike 2?This cafe is one of the “warmest” places a vegetarian can rest their keester in Bangkok. The service is excellent and the servers have quick recommendations. They understand vegetarian = no fish, chicken or meat. They speak English.

We ordered the Tofu& Veggies with fresh thai basil & chillies. Veg thai spring rolls and steamed rice rounded out the meal. I had a crisp Singha beer and my wife had the Thai Iced Tea. The portions are maybe a little small though the beer seemed to fill the vacant void. Awesome stuff!

The ambience is perfect. Thai contemporary design mixes with classic silk cushion covers and dark wood paneling. This is one plush lounge in the heart of a mall. The clientele seem to reflect this and are young Thais out for a good time.

The meal is reasonably priced and the only real downside is the lack of a massive range. Dont go too late or they run out of veg. spring rolls.

The Thai Green Curry was also excellent and we tried this the second time we came here – so yes, it was THAT good.

My recco – Go when you want a non-touristy, contemporary meal where real Thais eat.

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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A perfect cafe to sum up modern Bombay’s search for an oasis in the heart of the metropolis. A solid 8-ft high wall separates the outdoor seating from crowded, noisy Pali Naka in the heart of Bandra. On a good day (and I went on one such day), this wall has the effect of separating all cafe occupants from Bombay and the hustle-bustle. 

Basilico is a cafe with a contemporary feel & flavour. This is my second time here, and my wife had to give me a thousand assurances to get me through the swinging wooden gate. Our last experience had been very average – the food was average flavour, the ambience just a wee-bit pretentious and the price outrageous. We are spoilt for choice in Bandra, and a return visit seemed unlikely. 

What a difference a year makes. Full credit for the folks behind Basilico – they took the time to revamp their menu. The food is now much more flavourful. The prices more reasonable, though it remains a pricey meal. The service continues to be decent, and portions are healthy. 

The vegetarian options are many and varied. So kudos! We chose the Mustard potato skins and New Mezze 5 to start with. The potato skins were decent enough, and the varied ingredients seemed to go well together. A good start. The mezze 5 was a bit disappointing. The search for authentic mezze in Bombay continues. This fusion rendition of the mediterranean platter fails to deliver. The hummus is tasteless and the falafel are nothing to write home about. Adding in a very Indian chutney to this platter did little to rescue the dish. Very missable! 

The star was most definitely the main course. We had the Mushroom & Goat Cheese Cannelloni and it is yummy! The meld of flavours seems perfect and the hidden surprise of caramelized onions adds just the right amount of sweetness to this tangy dish. A thick tomato-based sauce acts as a good bed for the cannelloni themselves which were done to the correct consistency. This dish, in itself, will ensure that we come back here again.

The iced teas were so-so, but the ambience is now lively and yet laid back. The final damage was around Rs.500 per head, so it remains a pricey meal.

The hour and a half we spent there was relaxing and rejuvenating – exactly what ze doctor ordered.  A perfect place for dates, meetings, solo meals or a coffee break, Basilico seems to be finally living up to its billing.  

My recco – give it a try! 

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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