Masoom’s little Italy – a Mediterranean style restaurant specializing in Italian and seafood cuisine
By Zonaira Chaudry
Suddenly international cuisine has come into fashion in our traditional city of Lahore. This diversity in dining experience has also brought in its wake new and exquisitely furnished restaurants galore. When we go out for fine dining, food is not the most important thing on our minds. We desire a calm environment, a unique ambiance and a friendly service. All of these factors combine together to create a memorable dining experience.
How important is the décor of a restaurant? Well, I would say it is a vital ingredient as it makes a statement about the restaurant and gives us a flavor of what we should expect. The latest addition to this growing list of ever increasing restaurants in the city is Masoom’s Little Italy, opened just recently, specializing in Italian and seafood cuisine. Little Italy is like one of those inviting beachfront Mediterranean restaurants.
It doesn’t have red-and-white checkered tablecloths common in most of the Italian restaurants or a bold design, or funky furniture, but it surely has made a statement of individuality and Italian ethnicity. When you enter Little Italy, the first thing you notice is a cozy sitting and dining area with comfortable sofas giving a very relaxed feel. On the farther side, there are classy and nicely set wooden dining tables. A mini-coffee bar is right at the back, where you can enjoy a fresh cup of cappuccino or order your favorite dessert.
In Little Italy, you will meet Sicilian seamen with scruffy looks who can also take your order in Italian and listen to lovely Italian music or opera which nicely blends into the atmosphere. The place is done up in earthy tones with touches of vividly unusual colors here and there which is definitely an eye catcher. The interior is painted in two colors; off-white and terracotta, matching the customary Italian terracotta tiles. When you enter, you will find off white walls which give a spacious effect and when you leave you will see terracotta walls giving a very pleasing feel. Painting the walls in two different colors has given the desired effect; a right- at -home feeling. There are different Italian touches all around which are hard to miss; a large candelabra with dripping wax, a hand sprayed bread basket (which is baked at Masoom’s bakery), traditional clocks, or, simply a vase of wheat straws.
Little Italy also has its own mini herb garden just beside the main entrance consisting of oregano, basil, tarragon, dill, rosemary, marjoram, and celery. Masoom’s Little Italy‘s owner Usman Zaidi, an entrepreneur by profession has personally designed the interior. Usman says, “I fell in love with the place as soon as I saw it. It took one and a half year of experimentation and basic knowledge with research to come up with a Mediterranean, Italian-based restaurant.”
He and his wife Nadia painted the walls themselves, played with different techniques and colors to give it an uneven look. He handpicked everything from the hanging lamps to the fabric used in the cushions and couches. He says, “Italian décor is a statement of ‘what you have’. It’s all about mixing and matching and then creating your own style. It’s usually cluttered and uncoordinated. The most fascinating thing about Italian interior is that no two objects are similar. That’s exactly what has been done in Little Italy. There are lot of knick–knacks and add–ons but everything you see here has its own individuality. These items have continuity in life and not a product of mass production and that’s what Italian is. You will find contemporary furniture combined with old furniture to give a warm touch, a mixture of different periods and styles. You have to have an eye for the stylistic decisions you take. Anything could look good; it only depends on your vision and how you use it. Italy is a beautiful country with a lovely culture. All over the world, Italy is synonymous for fashion and life style. Pakistani and Italian cultures have a lot of similarities. When you go to Italy, you will definitely feel at home and that is exactly what I have tried to do here.”
Attention is paid to detail and quality whether it is the cuisine, the service, the furnishings or the ambiance. They say the best things in life come in small packages; Little Italy is precisely that. It has given a new definition to “Little” and “Italy”. No one could resist a taste of Italy right at home; after all, little temptations in life do become irresistible, especially when it’s Italian.
This article was originally published in the print edition of Valuemag, issue 1, May 2008.