I’m dining with Mumbai’s senior-most Chief Commissioners of Income-Tax and I’m in my comfort zone. At Nariman Point’s brand new Ristorante Prego, there’s comfort food of pasta, pizza and sandwiches and equally comforting? The company of my lunch guests. Can the company of Chief Commissioners of Tax (who have over 40,00,000 taxpayers and are responsible for Rs 1, 75000 crore tax collection ) be comforting? It sure is and is sparkled with fun and wit too. Both the dapper TK Shah (Chief Commissioner, City1) and ever-smiling RK Rai (City 2) were my batch mates, thirty five years ago, we trained together (at our IAS and IRS academies in Mussoorie and Nagpur). Over the years, both held challenging charges, TK went on international programmes and conferences in Wharton, Australia and Malaysia and today heads up Mumbai region, while RK is the next senior-most. They continue to be as passionate about work as they are about reading, yoga and experimenting with cuisines. Over a fun-leisurely Saturday lunch we swap stories about the IT raids (including Bollywood stars) we’ve been on, the flamboyant Bombay of yesteryears, and how the department has evolved to become almost fully computerised, tax-payer friendly and less intrusive than ever before … a far cry from the fifteen years when I worked there. No! We aren’t in this restaurant on a raid but a review…and yes! We will return.
Prego is comfortably located, on the ground floor of CR2, Nariman Point. It replaces Ruby Tuesday (thank God!) . Predictably done up in hues of brown, wood and stone walls, with large glass windows looking onto the street and a tucked away, well-stocked bar too.
Prego spotlights Italy, although it takes liberties, among them the generous scattering of cheeses, sauces and olives. It deep fries risotto into crunchy croquettes, and Quinoa into balls which it stuffs with feta. Large, generous portions are the hall marks of Delhi’s Gaurav Jain’s Prego which is all set to carve its place in Mumbai. At an earlier meal, the Spaghetti Aglio olio had been cooked al dente. A good choice of pasta is on offer. As is the case with the thin crust pizzas. The pepperoni topped pizza delights with it’s spicy notes. Through it all, we chat about Sunanda Shah (who teaches French and history) and Sabita Rai who cook excellent Kumaoni and Bihari cuisines as they do Italian, North Indian and Chinese. TK is partial to fish and approves of the Blackened fish on olive and tomato risotto. We enjoy the creamy Tiramisu and though the chocolate fondant collapses on the plate, it oozes chocolate.
Too many tables have been crammed into a small space and some of the backless seating is uncomfy. Some of the meats are submerged in sauce and cheese. Aubergine Parmigiana is drowned in Mozarella cheese while the papardalle pasta overcooked and soggy with white sauce. Though tasty, Pizza Verdure and the Pepperoni pizza could’ve done with more topping. Smoked cottage cheese and Gruyere cheese sandwich is soggy though filling. Though overspiced, the Porcini mushroom soup and Tomato soup spiked with roasted bell pepper warm us on a rainy afternoon.
Prego’s food is forcefully flavoured and generously portioned. It is robust, often rustic and sometimes proudly unsubtle. Plenty for vegetarians here. It is the place for those who prize comfort food over authenticity and are looking for generous portions and prices that comfort the pocket too (Rs 1200 meal for two). Open through the day, this large-hearted newcomer is already packed.
RISTORANTE PREGO Ground floor, CR2 Mall, Nariman Point. Ph 66172008
12 noon 12 midnight
RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3.5 DECOR 3.5
Average Meal for two: Rs 1200
The reviewer always pays for all her meals and goes unannounced.
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