Ever wondered what is the point of booking up a private dining room? Travel & Leisure India invited bestselling writer – and our newly inducted ‘A-List’ board member – Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi to share insights from a dinner he hosted at Mezzo Mezzo, JW Marriott’s superlative Italian restaurant in Juhu. By Team T+L

Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi Recommends Mezzo Mezzo

“I was celebrating a birthday. Some of my guests work in the movie industry. Privacy was essential,” says Shanghvi. A long rectangular room, cordoned off discreetly by a wall at it’s entrance, insures Mezzo Mezzo’s deserved reputation as a go-to restaurant for Bollywood’s banner names. The dining room is low-lit and beautifully appointed in a way to summon a mood of exclusivity and restraint. “I live in the neighbourhood and regret not having been to Mezzo Mezzo earlier,” he shares. “I was astonished by the restaurant’s excellent wine list, including a brunello I love from a strong year,” he adds, confirming that the dinner passed without intrusion.

Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi Recommends Mezzo Mezzo

Dining with major public figures can be a disruptive experience. Celebrities are often asked for photos and usually oblige from politeness. Often this leads to a dining experience that is less than enjoyable for such guests, who probably want nothing more than to tuck in without someone instagramming their cheat meal. “I remember inviting a famous author to a restaurant in Bandra. Twice at dinner random guests came to congratulate him for winning the Pulitzer. Sadly, this had not happened for my friend although he was hugely decorated. It was embarrassing. Ultimately, we laughed; it was a comedy of manners.”

Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi Recommends Mezzo Mezzo

Under Executive Chef Abhishek Basu, Mezzo Mezzo’s menu sparkles with Italian delicacies including the delicious ‘Livorno style’ seafood soup Caciuocca alla livornese and baked stuffed portobello mushrooms. “My risotto was superb, with only a hint of truffle oil. Chef Basu had confidence in his work to exercise restraint – even the arborio rice was cooked to leave bite in its texture,” adds Shanghvi, who has lived in Rome in the past. “I’d also flag their pizza, whose excellence was in the crust. Flour can either make or break a pizza, and here it was a winner.” Other selections include pasta with a scrumptious meat sauce, a flavourful baked lasagna, and Ossobuco from New Zealand.

Shanghvi was recently invited to Travel & Leisure’s A-List Board, a curated selection of important tastemakers and expert arbiters that includes luminaries such as filmmaker Imtiaz Ali and fashion designers Shivan and Narresh. “I’m thrilled to be part of Travel & Leisure’s A-List board as it allows me to share travel insights with the editorial section. I’m able to make a case for cities and countries, which might not necessarily be popular but are important and vital to visit. For the magazine’s print issue this September, I’ve written about Sri Lanka, which tourists deserted after the April bomb blasts. Sri Lanka is a country like no other — pure, mysterious, compelling, and it is as safe to visit as any other.” For now, suffice to say, Shanghvi will be going back to a destination close to home – Mezzo Mezzo. “I ought to have gone sooner,” he signs off.

Related: Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi Experiences Thorough Cleansing At Vedary, Mumbai