In a time when each restaurant plays the “When in Rome, do it like the Romans” card to get their fare rolling, Serfina comes as a big surprise. The NYC’s famous eatery brings north Italy’s subtle flavors to the fore, and as it is. No extra tadka, thank you.

Yes, there is a separate menu planned (as an off shot to the main menu I must say) for the zesty palates, but that’s just an add-on. A restaurant’s prize is in its survival. And Serafina has done it well.

Vittorio Assaf and Fabio Granato’s well-researched menu has all the elements of being a crash course to the cuisine of North Italy. The good thing, it’s the same ingenuity that comes across in Serafiina Palladium, a franchisee that sources its main ingredients from the same supplier as that of the parent unit. Commendable indeed.

Their USP however has been in effectively combining imported meats, cheeses and sauces with local produce.

Black truffle pizzaLobster carpaccio with palm hearts, roast corn and rucola

The fine balance is evident, and that is Serafina’s winning card. Sublime imports, pronounced use of herbs and training the spicy ‘Mumbaiya’ palette to mellow, harbouring on bland, Italian flavours has always been a challenge.

A reason most shift to the mid way introduction, tweaking everything with an extra tadka. At Serafina, this isn’t the case – the oft heard request of extra sauce, extra spice and high price queries notwithstanding.

But does that translate into good North Italian fare? Let’s start with the drinks. A Twisty Orange Mojito, a signature mocktail served happily by the bar team, clearly sets the tone. Citrusy and refreshing- clearly made to impress the vodka drinkers and otherwise.  The stronger Ginger Basil Mojito though made to impress the neat spirit drinkers warrants caution – and customization.

Pizza Margherita slides into the woodfired ovenPizza Margherita comes oven fresh on the table

Lobster Carpaccio with palm hearts, roast corn and rucola, a regular appetizer at most North Italian feast, was right with its freshness and flavour. Importantly, the lobster was cooked just right – non-chewy with a bite. However, the Goat’s Cheese Salad with apple, red beets, caramelized walnuts and honey could have been better if the walnut was fresh, and tossed well.

Al dente perfected and flavorsome ‘Spaghetti Aglio E Olio Al Pacino’ proved to be perfect litmus for testing Serafina’s food caliber. Spaghetti Caviale, with a splash of caviar was creamy and truly Roman. In fact, Spaghetti Caviale forms a part of the ‘Classic Roman Diet’, in which a buttery parmesan sauce with Calabrian caviar tossed with handmade spaghetti for the royalty.

In ancient Rome, caviar was brought as presents to the emperor, trumpeted by heralds and carried in garlands of flowers. And thus was hold on par with gold. Did it match it ancestry? Quite a bit. A good start to caviar, I feel.

Pizza Margherita V.I.P. with fresh mozzarella was a good attempt, however, dicing the cheese smaller and a basil pesto marination would have been ideal. Their signature black truffle pizza and risotto is strictly for mature truffle lovers only. The powerful pungency of this tuber can put off an unassuming palate completely. So tread with caution and instead order the truffle risotto. Still willing? Attempt it with a generous drizzle of olive oil. Red snapper with lemon butter sauce, mash potatoes and sautéed spinach had all the components of a standard meal. The extra smidgen of salt in the sautéed spinach was probably the chef’s style of signalling us to ascend to desserts.

Chocolate soft centre cake with vanilla ice creamTwisty Orange Mojito

Chocolate soft centre cake with vanilla ice cream was rich, dense and filling. Strawberry and kiwi tisane was soothing and can be a perfect way to rest the overdose of cream, which is a given at this Italian restaurant.

A well trained service team, with commendable ingredient knowledge and an ability to suggest items from the menu comes as a huge advantage. In fact, it encourages you to come again – and try something new as a diner.

Overall, a great place to train your palette to the tenuous Italian flavours, if you don’t mind the hole in your pocket.

The zesty team of Serafina at Palladium,Mumbai

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