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After a thrilling walk through Ottimo’s striated corridor of light and dark, you emerge into a warm European space. Booths, reminiscent of plush Oriental railroads, and sunny beige tables flank the island kitchen with its treasured Molteni range. At the Grand Chola mother-branch, experience a dichotomy of comfort and awe in Ottimo 2.0, that has never felt more at home. Chef Greco Vittorio’s marries his Tuscan adulation for ‘meat, cheese and starch’ with Australian flair to cleverly progress a cuisine that has become both commonplace and more worryingly, predictable. Ottimo’s refinement is at the fore in all dishes, especially in the umami-rich risotto, cooked with ‘water’ squeezed from local tomatoes; or the baby octopus from the Coromandel coast, grilled and simply bedded on saffron potatoes with a drizzle of charcoal oil. A daring square of dark chocolate in the artichoke soup piqued curiosity but alkalised my palate without any sparks, while a dainty layering of scallop, chorizo, pecorino and black truffle impressed more as text on the menu card, than anywhere else. Ottimo’s brand of food is not flawless, but is undeniably among the most exciting dining experiences you can buy in Chennai.