Escaping Delhi in Delhi – Café Diva

May 31st, 20111:49 pm @

Cafe Diva - an oasis of calm in Delhi.

I like Delhi. I like the food. I like the chaos. There are times when I even like the weather. There are times, however, when it all gets just a bit too much and you want to escape and ensconce yourself in a little corner of the world that’s anywhere but India. Italy, perhaps.

Luckily, no airfare is necessary as Café Diva has created a little bubble of Italian life in one of South Delhi’s nicer markets and puts on a spread of authentic Italian food that goes beyond the standard Delhi offerings of chicken, goat and something that may or may not be chicken. The restaurant has a solid pedigree – they also do the food at the Italian Cultural Centre in Delhi – so the pizzas are top-notch with a thin, crispy crust, a minimum of toppings and rich, juicy sauce. No stuffed crust abominations here.

We’d decamped there for a Sunday morning brunch to help deal with an evening that had included a few too many mojitos. There’s no need for me to see the menu, I may as well tell them “the usual” as I’m shown to my seat. In fact, a few more visits and that’s probably what will happen.


Normally a star performer, the tenderloin panini was a little flat on this occasion.

The tenderloin and bacon panini is – as one might expect – a perfect post-hangover option. The juicy red meat, crispy bacon and salty cheese get together in a little ménage à trois – watched by a voyeuristic smear of hot English mustard. At least, that’s how it always has been. Sadly, on this particular lazy Sunday it wasn’t to be. The tenderloin, while as juicy and well-cooked as I always remembered, was let down by its other partners, the cheese a little on the dry side, the bacon a little tough. Knowing that it could be so much better made the experience that much more disappointing, but at least I knew it was a one off. A case of stage fright, perhaps.

The pork, however, was cooked to perfection.

The pork chop my wife ordered, on the other hand, was beautifully done and cooked by someone who knew what they were doing. As was the person who made the accompanying gravy, which was a rich spoil to the seared white meat. Although, if the better part of valour is discretion, then a little less gravy would have gone a long, long way. When you cook meat so nicely, there’s no need to hide it beneath a layer of other flavours.


Red velvet cake.

Dessert is not my forte, so I always defer to my wife, who is also a Diva regular. She wavered between the known (New York cheesecake) and something new (Red Velvet Cake). In the end she opted for the Red Velvet and while the cake was, indeed, red, I was at a loss to locate much velvet in the at times dry concoction. Perhaps it was just a dry day for everyone.

Despite the minor misfires on this particular visit, all could be forgiven since the place has proved itself numerous times before. Anyway, it’s a perfect spot to spend an afternoon, with its cool and relaxed atmosphere, friendly – but not intrusive – staff and an outlook onto a leafy garden. It’s also a mecca for ladies who lunch, so it’s a great place for people watching, especially if you like your bling and oversized sunglasses.


Café Diva
N8, N Block Market
Greater Kailash – 1
New Delhi
Ph: 91-011-41011948
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