Chef Alex Sanchez throws open the doors to his new Mumbai restaurant - Elle India

Chef Alex Sanchez throws open the doors to his new Mumbai restaurant

Americano offers new-age American-inspired Italian fare

BY Neville Bhandara | April 5th, 2019

If you were around during Mumbai’s great culinary boom circa the mid-2000s, you’ve definitely eaten a dish by chef Alex Sanchez, who helmed the kitchen at one of the city’s front-runners of chic global cuisine. Now, after a few years of soul-searching, Sanchez is back in the bay, this time with his own establishment, called Americano. Located in Kala Ghoda, it offers new-age American-inspired Italian fare, in a set-up that’s designed for sharing, with the ingredients being locally sourced wherever possible.

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Americano’s beverage director Darren Crawford at work

We walk in on a Wednesday, two weeks after Americano threw open its doors, a good lead-time to use as a yardstick. It’s packed; the crowd is a cool mix of young urban professionals at the bar, families busy at dinner, and the occasional date-night couple attempting to chat over the evening’s rolling laughter and conversation.

The establishment that formerly occupied this space had made maximum use of the floor space, incorporating a sprawling seating area downstairs as well as a mezzanine. But Sanchez and his partner Mallyeka Watsa (the co-founder of the much-loved all-natural skincare brand Ayca, an ELLE favourite) have made the wise decision to put maximum power where it counts—under the hood, aka the semi-open kitchen. This means that turnaround time is finger-snapping fast and each dish arrives seconds after it’s prepared, even on a busy mid-week evening. What’s more, because the team has cleverly utilised the space’s double-height ceilings (and painted the exposed beams in happy shades of blue), the eatery is still spacious.

The semi open kitchen at Americano2

The semi-open kitchen at Americano

It’s only once we’re seated do we realise that blue isn’t just on the ceiling; it’s the colour of the chairs, the floor, the menus and even the napkins, which seem to be made out of soft denim. And the lighting comes courtesy of beautiful brass pendant lights that cast a dim, warm glow—not ideal for photos, but absolutely perfect for intimate chit-chat.

We settle down at a corner table and look through the menu. It gets plus points for being detailed but not cumbersome—it’s greeting card-sized, and printed back to front; all in all, four pages each of food and drink. Attention to detail is king here: Americano makes all its liqueurs and tinctures in-house, even going so far as to use some of Ayca’s essential oils in its cocktails. We settle for the citrusy, minty and fizzy Malabar Cooler (vodka, cucumber, mint, lime, melon, soda topped with pebble ice) and the Night Owl (toasted cinnamon, bourbon, scotch, house-made orange liqueur, house made coffee liqueur)—both are strong yet well balanced, and have definitely been given a generous pour.

Malabar Cooler

Malabar Cooler

The food menu is divided into five parts: Cocktail Snacks, Small Plates, Pizza, Pasta, and Meat & Fish (dessert is a separate menu). We pick a dish from each except the last category, as the food is rich and each dish is designed to be shared. We can’t resist the Carbonara Croquettes (little fried balls of pancetta, black pepper and Pecorino Romano) that are deeply satisfying; Buratta (with grapefruit, pistachio, Sicilian green olive, fennel and raddichio) that is fresh and citrusy; Seabass Crudo (served sashimi style, with espelette pepper and a caper and pine nut condimento) that’s a big win when it comes to flavour, and the Tortellini el Brudo (delicate pasta parcels stuffed with mortadella, proscuitto and parmigiano, floating in a richly flavoured meat broth). But the undoubted scene stealer is the Cavoletti pizza: aside from the almost-criminal amount of fontal, it features Brussels sprouts, garlic crema, fresh mint, and an exquisite crust that can be eaten entirely on its own. If you’ve got space after, try the roast chicken with crispy potatoes and salsa, the tagliata di manzo (roast tenderloin with pancetta and a salmoriglio marinade) or the Duck al Mattone (crispy half duck, fig, brown butter vinaigrette).

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Carbonara Croquettes

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The Cavoletti pizza

Duck al Mattone

Duck al Mattone

Finally, round off your meal with the light and airy Tiramisu Americano or the sinful Torta Tenerina, a dark chocolate cake with lightly whipped cream. Either way, you won’t be disappointed. In Americano, the city’s dining scene has a new culinary star to watch. Come with friends, have your first drink at the bar and then tuck in to food that’s unpretentious, fuss-free and made with a whole lot of love.

Nagindas Master Road, Kala Ghoda, Fort. Tel: 022 2264 7700