Dario Dezio was one of the few global chefs who made India their home town. Started his restaurant in the heart of Pune, Koregaon Park, Chef Dario has given the education city a new meaning to party and dine at the authentic Italian restaurant serving food from Sicily and Mexican region. “It’s been 30 years in Pune serving Sicilian food. It’s a question of destiny how you reach a location,” smiles Dario who met his wife Rebecca here in Pune and planned to settled and start restaurant in the same city. “She came after the university in London to Pune during a holiday and that’s how we met here and now we are here,” remembers Dario who always believes in destiny more than anything else. Excerpts from the interview:
How it all began?
Long time ago my work was ready in Italy and I was looking for some adventure than a normal job that we used to. I used to like travelling and I landed here as it’s sometime our destiny and sometime our choice. And, as at that time there were no Italian restaurant I felt the opportunity and started this restaurant here. I was looking at different cultures to do something at different place. And, that’s how Dario’s was born.
Talk to us about your Food!
I come from Sicily which is an Island in middle of the Mediterranean and yet being colonized by different cultures like Arabic cultures, Turkey influence, Saras, Greek and Roman influence so yet being a kind of place where different kind of food is developed. I come from family of restaurateurs and chefs and thought of doing something from my home land and I was lucky people accepted this as a cuisine here in India.
A mix of Culture
I think whatever I have put in my menu is whatever I have liked by myself. So, I can’t say that this is my favourite. Also, it is about the mood and desire what you need at that moment. Well, Italian cuisine is always known for pasta and pizza and risotto with tomato sauce base is one the favourite among customers. There is a lot of similarity between Indian food and Italian food. Culturally, we are very close to the sense of family. Italian food I believe you come and share with family and so I think everything starts culturally. It is also healthy food because you use healthy ingredients like extra virgin oils, palms and ingredients which are useful for the body. Also, as I come from Sicily the food is more spice from north Italy which is also liked by Indians. We use sun-dried tomatoes, chillies because that is the part of Sicilian culture.
Sourcing the Right Ingredients
There are many things which you can’t avoid. You need extra virgin oil, the parmesan cheese, but like herbs we buy the majority of our ingredient from local farms. Tomato, basil etc we get it from Italy.
Counting Big on Numbers
We have over 15000 people in a month at this particular restaurant. The number varies from restaurant to restaurant.
On Customer and Competition
There is more competition globally, people have options and they have become choosy and try to go to each restaurant. That’s why you always need to improvise things, new recipes, new local taste and new menu. We have clients who are coming here from long time. We have around 80 per cent of the comeback customer here at Darios’. It is a mix of local and internationals customers. The majority is Indians obviously.
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We are having three restaurants in Pune, one each in Mumbai and Goa. It is fun to do more restaurants as it is not only about money because restaurants are not the most profitable business but when you do something you do and enjoy doing it. I believe in destiny. If it has to happen it will happen. I am planning to open more restaurants and am also looking at franchisee for expanding into different parts of India. We are trying to expand our business, open at new place and serve our guest with love and honesty.