Have been wanting to visit this restaurant for a while now; my sister in law who has been there four times prior; highly recommended it, therefore this time as she and my mother in law were in town we decided to go there and sample their fare.
The ambiance of the restaurant is excellent! It puts one at ease at the end of a hard days work and transports one to a 1960's Jazz Club (as they play a lot of Jazz music) cum Italian bistro. It is located inside Sundarbandh Hotel at Koregaon Park which itself is a very quite and peaceful neighborhood. They have two sections for seating; the indoor section which is largely for families who wish to enjoy a quite dinner and the outdoor section meant for the younger generations who; would like to kick back, relax and chat over a couple of drinks. Both the sections are equally attractive and the space between the tables allows one to enjoy a private conversation or laugh loudly without disturbing the neighboring table.
The cuisine is Italian and is all vegetarian; but let that not be a negative point as unknown to many; Italian cuisine has a very rich vegetarian culinary history. As a matter of fact; meat during the Roman Empire's time was only available to the rich; whilst the poor had to make do with the vegetables that the bustling markets all around the far flung Roman Empire had to offer.
To begin with we ordered drinks; I had a Miller High Light Beer; which was great! Silky smooth down the throat; void of that burn you get when you normally drink a local beer; my wife had a Rivera Mock-tail consisting of Rose Syrup, Pine apple Juice and Grape Juice; this too was surprisingly great and very refreshing! My sister in law had a Sprite and my mother in law had a Merlot which she enjoyed and went very well with her food!
The food menu is extensive; they have a lot of varieties Pastas/Pizza's/Risotto's/Starters and Main Courses to choose from. I ordered a Fusilli Stromboli (however being a huge fan of Penne requested that it be made with Penne (al dente of course!) and sans capers and red chilies), my wife had the Spaghetti Normanni (She requested it to be made with Fusilli as she loves Fusilli); my mother in law and sister in law both ordered the Penne Pomodoro (They requested it to be made extra saucy). While placing her order; my sister in law did mention to the waiter that she had been there four times already and always had the same thing and requested it to be made the same way as always. We also ordered some garlic bread with our main course and a side portion of Grilled Vegetables. Please note that at Dario's unless one specifies that the pasta be made al dente it is always well cooked; therefore if you are like me and want it al dente you just have to let your waiter know, al dente will take 5-7 min longer than the other orders as they have to freshly make it.
Before the food arrived they served us a bread basket which we had with our drinks, we had it with some warm olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Most of the breads were good; except the rustic ciabatta; it is normally crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, however this was hard throughout.
The food arrived promptly and all together; my Stomboli was delicious, the sauce had perfectly coated the Penne and enveloped it with a creamy tangy flavor, my wife's Normanni was excellent, she wished that she had a larger appetite in order to gorge on all of it! The Grilled Vegetables too were perfectly cooked and had a smoky flavor to them. Sadly this is where the positives draw to their close. The Penne Pomodoro's were not saucy and lacked a certain freshness to them; my sister in law requested that they be changed, when they arrived again they were saucy, however they still were not the same as she had eaten during her last four visits. The manager did come to the table and apologized for the same and gave us another one which was slightly better (The problem was in the freshness of the Herbs). However my sister in law's enthusiasm had diminished by then and just wanted to eat to satiate herself. For dessert we shared a Panacotta which looked great, however though initially we found the dish tasty; it did leave in all our palates a slightly grainy after taste, this does happen when there is either too much gelatin added or the cream has curdled whilst cooking.
The problem and the reason why I have deducted 1.5 points is the service, this requires a lot of improvement. Our waiter was well spoken and was very helpful, however he was not listening properly (For example we had asked for warm olive oil; he spend so much time describing everything given with the bread basked that he forgot we had mentioned warm). Also if he would have listened carefully to my sister in law such a folly would not have happened. His table management was also very poor, we had to keep telling him to clear the empty plates and bottles from our table (For example even after placing the order for desserts and him bringing us the dessert spoons, there was still Parmesan Cheese and Olive Oil lying on our table). I understand it was a Saturday night & the restaurant was busy; however the sequence of service needs to be followed irrespective of the rush, one can cut a few corners and take a few short cuts; however the sequence should essentially remain the same.
I feel that what this place is struggling with is the maintaining of their product consistency both in their food and service aspect. They rely on the fact that they are situated in a prime location; however they should not rest on their laurels for too long, for keeping a name and reputation is a battle that restaurants fight on a daily basis. They need to remember that no matter how many times a guest has come; they must never be taken for granted, as one bad experience can force that loyal guest to go seek alternate dining venues.