Chef Fabrizio Aceti’s delectable menu is a story of sincere hospitality and understated flair, even as he dishes out an increasingly diverse range of delicacies.
There’s a long-standing reputation in the culinary world that everyone should have a favorite chef, and at least one of them should be from Italy. You see, some of the choicest dinners of my life have happened at Italian restaurants. In my experience, I’ve found that every chef loves to treat their customers wholeheartedly, but those from Italy take their hospitality to the next level. Chef Fabrizio ‘Super Chef’ Aceti of Sorrento at The Shangri-La Eros has taken the skill dance to a warm, fuzzy, heartily Italian level.
‘There’s plenty to eat’
Aceti, who has a quarter of a century of experience, will be at New Delhi’s premium hotel until November 13, where he will curate his special menu, which was launched on November 4. The city’s preferred five-star eateries can be quickly identified by those in the know. Let me tell you, Sorrento is a prestigious and frequented destination any day.
The restaurant isn’t that old, the manager told me that Sorrento first opened its doors six years ago, and before that it housed Shangri-La’s 24-hour restaurant and cafe. A quick walk through the hotel’s lobby and main corridor, past its inviting bar, will bring you to Sorrento’s dining hall. Colorful noodles welcome you and then the most popular part of the place, the open kitchen.
Aceti greets me graciously before I start recording all of this. After he briefed us on his menu, the first thing that struck us was his eagerness to start with the experience. “There’s plenty to eat, so let’s get started,” he said.
“It’s really a pumpkin”
Although Sorrento has a pleasant warm atmosphere, this single sentence creates a different mood and atmosphere for dinner. Suddenly, you’re no longer a dinner party—a chef who wants to tell his story with his food invites you on a journey.
And stories, they are.
We start with a burrata with tomato cream and crusty bread, which offers just the right balance of cream – combined with contrasting croutons – to set the tone for the night. In the open kitchen next to my table, I saw Chef Aset busy finishing the main course of roast lamb loin. What I soon realized was that while another dish was being prepared, his attention was spread across the hall, watching the diners react to his fare.
Burrata doesn’t leave you room for a special reaction. It’s a beautifully garnished burrata that sets the perfect tone for what’s to follow. On the non-vegetarian side, the marinated yellowtail with fresh orange and fennel salad is a similar story – with ceviche-like base flavors contrasting and clashing.
After a restorative first meal, we are beckoned to the second meal of the night – which proves to be one of the two crescendos of this experience. Basil Pesto Risotto with Tiger Prawns is warm, filling and hearty, while the real highlight of the night is Chef Aceti’s Pumpkin Truffle Ravioli with Parmesan Sauce. The latter is a dish I would eat a hundred times over.
With the most impeccably balanced sense of flavor—feeling the sweet end but overwhelming—Chef Aceti’s pumpkin ravioli is, quite simply, the best way to express dinner. It embodies the warmth of the dining table, which its creator took great care to bring to life.
“Yes, it really is a pumpkin,” Aceti said with a smile. He hits the mark and has the light smile of a cook cooking. It’s also part of what Aceti has grown over the past 25 years in its native Piedmont region of northern Italy.
“We have a little bit of everything on my menu,” says the chef.
Which brings us to the final meal of the night, the main course. We were served eggplant parmigiana and roast pork. While the food is great, I also notice that Chef Aceti is busy visiting every table in the restaurant – asking quick and polite questions about new eateries and briefly chatting with others about the hot food.
This sets the experience apart in Sorrento. Chef Aceti’s warmth lives up to everything we know about Italian cuisine, making you feel welcome and at home wherever you are invited.
Aceti’s four-course dinner concluded with a dessert of his choice of liqueurs imported from Italy. It’s a chocolate budino and mimosa cake paired with amaretto in the bonnet and pistachio ice cream on the other side. The tiramisu also carried the perfect amount of sipping weight and, not being a sweet tooth, I couldn’t resist finishing the mimosa cake and bonnet.
At the end of the day, what catches your eye is that with this course, Aceti is taking Italian cuisine to a different, new height in New Delhi. Not one of its servings relies on conventional pasta or mentions pizza.
However, its menu is as Italian as you can imagine.
Chef Aceti’s special four-course menu is available at Sorrento Restaurant at Shangri-La Eros, New Delhi till November 13. The menu is priced at ₹ 8,500 per person plus tax and ₹ 5,500 per course without wine.
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