According to History, Italians came to India more than 400 years ago. But only in the last few decades, Indians have made Italian food a part of their cuisine. Even the best of restaurants in the cosmopolitan cities like Delhi and Mumbai had not served Italian food during the 1960s or early 70s. What is fascinating is to note that just in a matter of few years, not just pastas, pizzas and tiramisus, a huge variety of authentic Italian food has become common in India. For instance, when you try to order food online in Delhi, you will be surprised to see the number of restaurants that serve an extensive range of Italian foods. There are more than 400+ restaurants that serve Italian food just in Delhi. Almost all of these have got 4.5 or 5 star ratings on websites like Tripadvisor, Zomato and Foodpanda. This makes one wonder how Italian food has become a strong influence over Indian taste buds these days. A recent survey even revealed that more than fifty percent of people who regularly order food online in Delhi and in other cosmopolitan cities showed a hike in ordering Italian food.
A fact states that the first authentic Italian restaurant in India was opened in Delhi in the year 1978on the rooftop of the Delhi Taj. Since the flavors and tastes were too authentically Italian, people in Delhi took a long time to get accustomed to it and the restaurant had to be eventually closed. It was after sometime that the President hotel in Mumbai redesigned its coffee shop into an Italian casual dine. They added an Indian touch to it and made it very informal, unlike the old ‘continental’ restaurants. One could walk in, eat less or more and be happy that the bill was not exorbitant. They served both comfort Italian food and pizzas with a little alteration to Indian tastes that was absolutely welcomed by the people. It was this innovative concept of adding an Indian flavor and making it informal that became a big hit. This success marked the birth of the Italian restaurant of the sort that we have in India today.
This was followed by Delhi’s Hyatt Regency, which had initially hosted a relatively formal Italian restaurant, changing their concept to open La Paizza. La Piazza was a pizza-pasta place with a five-star ambience but keeping up things in a causal style. It was the first Italian restaurant in Delhi that catered to vegetarians with exclusive dishes. The restaurant had people queuing up then and thrives even now. Following this, slowly and steadily, many Italian restaurants, small and big, started sprouting up in India.
Over the years, we have seen a lot of young middle class emerging as a strong customer base for restaurants that serve Italian food, unlike the nineties where it was more confined to the sophisticates and foreigners. It also goes without saying that the online food delivery websites and apps have played a major role in making it easier for Italian food to thrive in India.