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IF LONGEVITY in a challenging market is the hallmark of a successful restaurant, 56 Ristorante Italiano definitely belongs to that prized category. For starters, this Vatika Group restaurant, a favourite of award givers, has got its basics right. It has a media-shy Italian chef, Alessandro Mariani, who lets his work speak for him. Its ambience exudes romance, a feeling you'd not normally associate with the clutter and confusion of Golf Course Road, and its stained glass panels combined with a high ceiling give you the feeling that you are in a well-designed modern chapel. It is indeed a tranquil getaway on one of the busiest roads in Gurgaon, but it wouldn't have had its steady band of followers – in the offices above and in the neighbourhood – had Mariani not got his food right. From his smoked salmon bruschetta and barbecue salsa-laced chicken spiedini, to his famed broth of seasonal vegetables, to the rock lobster spaghetti (the most expensive item on the menu and also the most memorable), lamb ossobucco and chicken involtini, and of course, the drop-dead gorgeous tiramisu, Mariani makes sure no visit to the restaurant is a cause for disappointment.
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At golf course road, Gurgaon, sandwiched between the two commercial buildings lies a unique restaurant which is often invaded by neighbouring office goers. ’56 Ristorante Italiano’ is nothing but a corridor like hall with a chic glass wall entrance. Smack right in between of the two buildings this restaurant may not be glitzy or trendy but it sure is popular. What it lacks in ambience it more than makes up in food. Look of the restaurant is casual and unassuming. Row of huge palm trees run right in the centre of it. The furniture is more practical that pretty but overall the décor is good if not great. The saving grace of the restaurant is Chef Tiziano Ranieri who with some serious skills have pulled regulars who come to taste his culinary magic religiously. The place is quite busy during lunch hour when it becomes crowded with corporates looking for a light meal on the go.
Chef Ranieri makes delicious rustic Italian food leaning more towards his southern regional recipes. These regional recipes have found a place in his menu which he makes with his whole heart. The antipasti or starters are a collection of some lovely recipes, such as, bruschetta, carpaccio, assorted seafood tempura, sautéed prawns enveloped in smoked salmon, marinated fresh sea scallops and chicken skewers. Zuppe or soups reflects seafood bisque, minestrone, cream of wild mushrooms with crouton, Tuscany style tomato puree and consommé of red onions. Out of salads try Caesar’s salad. It is highly recommended. The mains have pastas, risotto, oven baked zucchini and smoked cheese, spaghetti all aragosta, grilled rock lobster, oven baked sea bass, stuffed chicken breast, seared pork tenderloin, gnocchi, ravioli, tender lamb shanks braised in red wine, pan grilled fillet of red snapper and penne puttanesca.
The pizzas taste more yummy when rolled out by true Italian hands. The menu can’t be complete without the crusty pizzas. Frutti di mare, margherita, pizza Napoli, focaccia vegetarian, pizza romana and pizza 56 are only some of the recipes given. For sweet dishes the chef serves tiramisu, panna cotta, tris mousse and profiteroles al cioccolato. Thoroughly affordable and only mildly expensive the 56 Ristorante is a great place for authentic Italian food with non-glitzy surroundings. Without any distractions the focus is 100% on food and nothing else. The service is friendly and attentive. Be it morning or late night drop in for Italian is for every occasion.
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