Tonino needs no introduction and a restaurant where the people behind it believe in making a strong foundation and an equally strong statement. When I met the owner Simran Sawhney and the Tonino Chef Suman Sharma a few months back on their restaurant’s 10 year anniversary, they had mentioned the idea of Caffe Tonino to me. Simran’s vision was to get the charming and romantic ambiance of the original restaurant, the amazing food from Tuscany and combine it with the contemporary fast moving times. To give the city an Italian restaurant which, maintains the legacy of its big brother but also a no-nonsense high end place for the On-the-move present generation.
Thus took birth the younger Tonino in the heart of the city and at a place all Delhites love to throng in Connaught Place. Caffe Tonino has come in the PVR Plaza complex right above the famous Nizam Kathi Kebab. The entry is from the middle circle but as soon as you enter the staircase which takes you to the first floor of the Caffe you are transported to another place, somewhere closer to Italy. The winding circular steps adorned by the rustic walls, done up to give them a white brick texture, you reach the landing with a long corridor culminating in a solid teak wood glazed double door. A setting that would make the most practical person a romantic, immediately putting the guest at ease. Don’t be surprised if you find a couple taking a romantic selfie like on the streets of Italy.
The old world charm of Connaught place, the 13 and a half inch thick load bearing walls add to the flavour of the place, and though Simran did mention that they had a hard time creating Voids and Arches the thick walls and the low open ceiling concept just add to the beautiful ambiance created by the interior designer Amith Chabbra.
Lucky for me that I was invited to this beautiful Caffe though unfortunately I was off any kind of food for a week. However, I realized not eating proved to be a boon for me and gave me a heightened sense of awareness to take in the décor. A sense which is already a second nature but I just strolled around the restaurant with my Diet Coke in hand. The corridor on entering through the Teak wood doors continues but the place now opens out into dining areas on the left, accessed through elliptical arches. The stark Teak wood polished chairs and tables provide a pleasing contrast to the pure white walls. The black & white pictures of Italian landmarks in black frames and the wooden step styled magazine rack each lends a personal touch to the Caffe and gives it a quaint cozy feel.
Walk down through the interesting array of arches and round voids and you reach the Bar area (the liquor license is still awaited). The black and white floor zigzag floor pattern gently climbs up onto the bar counter ending onto a 2 inch thick Teak wood bar counter. Behind which, is a cleverly done with red brick wall housing the oven completing the picture perfect caffe. To top it up embossed in the overhung wooden pelmet in bold letter is a saying by Virginia Woolf which embodies the spirit of the passionate owners, “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well!”
Since I did not eat and would be going back again definitely when the Caffe opens its doors to the public, I will keep you posted about the food. For the time being based on my experience of the first Tonino on MG Road and the ambiance the team of Tonino has managed to achieve here, I would highly recommend a visit to Caffe Tonino when in CP next.