N8, N Block Market, Greater Kailash 1, New Delhi-110 048
Meal for two without alcohol: Rs 1,800 including taxes and service charge
One of the perils of soaring retail rentals is that old familiar haunts keep disappearing only to reappear, like jokers in the pack, unexpectedly close at hand. For years Delhi’s diva of Italian cuisine, Ritu Dalmia, ran a snacky, third-floor eyrie with a tiny open-air terrace called Le Cafe in what is derisively known as GKNY’s Fabindia market. The pack has lately been reshuffled, and it has resurfaced as the first-floor Cafe Diva down the block, in place of a bookshop, now kicked into a basement. Cafe Diva is as easy to miss as before (which is part of the intended charm) but despite its cramped quarters, the new attitude lies in the angles: a juice and smoothie bar stuck at the back and a well-priced deli—with fresh pasta, grilled vegetables, dips and marinades—running along the parallel wall.
The menu, mercifully, has not changed much. My south Indian companion cast a beady eye for the spiciest pizza (called Sabine, with blazing jalapenos and salami), ladled more chilli flakes and declared it perfect. I went plain rustic Italian: spaghetti tossed with tomato, oregano and extra virgin olio. A bean salad with mixed greens, bamboo shoots and garlic and poppy seed dressing was our East-is-West side order. The Indo-Italian twist is echoed comfortingly in the ambience: hand-tooled leather chairs and banquettes, with vintage Bollywood hits playing softly. Don’t miss the Bailey’s mousse cake. And ignore the shopping-laden mothers resting their dribbling babes and aching feet. Suffering mammas are common to both cultures.