Calamari calling!

Ayesha Kabir | Update:

TrattoriaFinally there’s a solution to the inevitable squabble that emerges when friends and family get together to eat out. Where to eat? If one opts for spicy Indian cuisine, another opts for sizzling steaks. Yet another wants to go Italian with cannelloni, while there are also calls for a juicy big beef burger.

So whatever the majority decides upon eventually, whether it’s fine dining or a casual cafe, there’s always that disgruntled grumbler sulking over spaghetti, or poking at the food with distaste. After all, you can’t please all of the people all of the time, right?

Wrong! There’s a new eatery in town that has an array of dishes that can please a variety of palates. Trattoria offers food lovers a choice of both Asian and Continental cuisine on its bill of fare. Its menu is diverse, catering to all sorts of food fetishes, ready to serve the most demanding gourmands.

Bang Bang Chicken. Photo: CollectedWhen a group of connoisseurs visited the restaurant recently, besides their appetite for good food, they also took along with them a fair share of scepticism. Would a place that offers Japanese maki rolls, Italian pizza and spicy Thai soup be able to do justice to such a diverse array? Surely not!

Their scepticism considerably calmed when the first starter was placed before them. These exacting epicures were pleasantly surprised. “Another serving of the fried calamari please.”

“Pass the salmon maki roll,” “Try the Bang Bang Chicken, it’s delish!” “Have it with the spicy Jambalaya rice...” The table was buzzing with comments and critiques. And mind you, these customers were not gluttons who eat anything and everything, but selective gastronomes, even food snobs, if that is even a term.

There are not many places that serve Japanese food in Dhaka city, and the few that do also offer sky-high prices too. Not so at this place. The prices are affordable and the servings are generous.

The dumpling soup was refreshing, clear and hot, the dumplings accompanied by fresh vegetables, cooked just enough to retain their freshness without remaining raw. A good start to a meal. Perhaps there could be a wider variety of soups on the menu? There’s Ramen soup, but maybe a bit too chock-a-bloc with veggies.

Bang Bang Chicken, quite an unusual dish for the uninitiated, with an equally unusual name, consists of large chunks of chicken fried in a batter and covered with a pale pink sauce of creamy consistency. A good combination with the spicy Jambalaya rice.

Then there’s Mongolian beef, a delight for beef lovers who want their ‘pound of flesh’ with a difference. And fish lovers will relish the Crispy Fried Fish and Red Chilli Sauce. That’s Thai.

Crab Maki Rolls. Photo: CollectedSlipping from the Japanese menu to Thai could have been discordant, but Sarfaraz Rahman is a clever guide who knows his tempura from his teriyaki. As one of the hands-on proprietors of Trattoria, he smoothly takes his customers from one succulent dish to another, probing into their likings and never tripping up on the mix ‘n match menu.

But why go for such a conglomeration of cuisines? Japanese and Thai may be different, but there are those Asian associations that can strike a similarity. But Italian? Quite a different kettle of fish, if you can excuse the metaphor! The epicures frown in disapproval.

Sarfaraz has an explanation. “Japanese? Because I love Japanese food!” he laughs, but clarifies, “There really is no Japanese restaurant in Dhanmondi, so it’s something new. And Thai is one of the most popular cuisines, and so is continental. I didn’t include Chinese because it is close enough to Thai.”

The name Trattoria could perhaps be a mite misleading... implying an Italian restaurant? Or it is just being used as a sort of global term for a casual eatery? Perhaps. That mixed oeuvre seems to be a characteristic of the place. It has an Egyptian room replete with Egyptian art and hieroglyphics. And in the midst of that room, it had a large Mayan mural, bringing ancient Mexico into the midst of the Misr. Fusion in food and fusion in decor too!

There’s more to Trattoria. There’s art all around, art by young unknown artists, art for sale. “I would visit a corner of New Market where young people sold their art, but most of them drifted away from their passion as it didn’t pay,” says Sarfaraz, “That’s why we have decided to give young artists a space here so they can display their art for free and sell it at the same time. That’s a bit of CSR for us!”

Mixed oriental meal with a minty drink. Photo: CollectedLastly, a big attraction of the place is the open photo booth, with a colourful backdrop of flowers and two navy blue upholstered chairs on which to preen, pose, and take selfies to your hearts delight!

And not to forget, Trattoria offers good iftar packages during Ramadan, tasty and thrifty too, deviating a bit to accommodate the must-have jilapi-piyaju-chola-khejur. There’s the ‘Buy 1 Get 1 Platter’ with corn soup, grilled chicken, Chicken Nanban, bbq wings, chow mein and more. There’s the Pizza Platter with a 12” chicken pizza, bbq chicken wings and more. And the Nanban Platter offers Chicken Nanban, mixed fried rice and more.

Trattoria is located in the city’s food hub, Satmasjid Road, Dhanmondi. (Address: House 84, Road 7/A, Level 4, Dhanmondi).

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