Mumbai’s Toast Pasta Bar is your new route to Italy right now

Before the dishes come out, red-haired Manjrekar comes over for a chat, telling us how her dreams of being a chef were first ignited by MasterChef Australia, only to be temporarily crushed by her parents, who wouldn’t let her down her English. Lit and Socio diploma for a cooking class. “The day I graduated, I flew to London to start at Le Cordon Bleu.” A job at Bernadi and a crash course in pasta with nonnas from the Amalfi Coast later, Manjrekar returned to town to open her own restaurant. But fate had other plans. Toast – the name of a nod to food writer Nigel Slater’s autobiography – represents the feeling of comfort that a slice of bread and hot butter can provide on a bad day, or any day. , really. Diners will experience that warm, comforting sensation with the pappardelle swimming in a stew of tender six-hour braised oxtail, sprinkled with (what looks like) a piece of parmesan cheese. The tomato, chilli, garlic, cream and truffle linguine is topped with pangrattato or toasted breadcrumbs that add much-needed crunch to a dish that seems a bit one-dimensional, compared to crunch, cream and flavor of other items. On the menu. The menu also has a cacio e pepe and spaghetti with crab and chilli and for which we will return.

Pappardelle stewed with tender six-hour braised oxtail. Photo: Smitha Menon

If you don’t want to risk that white shirt with your pasta, choose from the no-pasta mains, which include a deliciously crispy sea bass that sits in mashed cauliflower, brightened up with capers and tangy tomatoes, a chicken à Milanese and a steak. . Manjrekar makes a bold move with the risotto: the only one on the menu is made with spinach and goat cheese, a departure from the standard truffle mushroom seen on menus around town. Another decision she made was to choose staff with little or no hospitality experience. “A passion for food was enough,” she tells us. The result is an energetic, lively staff that recommends dishes with the ease and expertise of a good friend who isn’t afraid to tell you about the spinach in your teeth. The menu offers little explanation of the dishes so you will have to rely on the well trained and knowledgeable waiters.

We close the evening with a zesty, boozy limoncello (also homemade) and a heavy but refreshing margarita which we sip as we dig into the dangerous and impossibly creamy Belgian chocolate and gianduja mousse topped with toasted hazelnuts and the tart Amalfi lemon meringue served with olive oil ice cream. Moss is a stylish take on the interior of a Ferrero Rocher and the Pie, our bright spot on a ridiculously humid day. The fact that no donuts are on the menu makes it clear that Manjrekar wants the restaurant to be self-contained. Despite the lashes of the Mumbai rain and the nervousness of new restaurants, it’s impressive that this place doesn’t move, it holds.