Italy and Japan Meet At Pune’s Nuvo To Give Foodies Their First Taste of Itameshi Cuisine

A concise menu focusing on the interesting combination of Italian and Japanese flavours, a sub-cuisine 'born' during WW2, Nuvo at Grand Sheraton Pune is all about robust flavours and presentation

Published On Mar 13, 2024 | Updated On Mar 13, 2024


Sitting in the roseate, gilded world of the restaurant Nuvo at the Sheraton Grand Pune in the posh Bund Garden area, soldiers and wars seem far from reality. And yet, the cuisine I’m about to experience has its roots in World War II, when American soldiers of Italian origin stationed in Japan, combined their beloved homestyle fare with the local dishes. The Japanese, greeting the fusion food with trepidation at first, soon embraced at it as a fun variant. This eventually evolved into an elevated version known as Itameshi. Which is what I’m here to try. 

Nuvo Sheraton Grand Pune

General manager Supreet Roy is buoyed up, because it’s the first time Pune will experience this unique cuisine. Introducing Itameshi in India makes a lot of sense, considering we first took to European food via pizzas and pastas and the current cuisine of choice everywhere is the catch-all term ‘Asian’, which often has Japanese accents. It’s a limited menu as Nuvo is largely a place where you’d get some great cocktails and graze on the food. Even so, there are plenty of options even if you want to visit in the day or a quieter weeknight.  

The beautifully presented Green Market Salad is the perfect first dish to introduce me to Itameshi. The sharp and umami pecorino cheese is offset by the sweetness of crispy sunchokes, and the vinaigrette is made bright with the citrus of yuzu and saltiness of shoyu (Japanese soy sauce). 

The Green Market salad tastes as good as it looks! 

Avocado Cream Cheese Maki is a crowd-pleaser, and one can’t really go wrong with it if you’ve got access to farm avocados as they do. The Spicy Shiitake Ninja Rolls boast a seven-pepper shichimi togarashi, whose origins are from the 17th century. With tempura prawn and mock-crab, avocado and Japanese mayo, they check all the boxes for those who like their sushi complex and chockful of ingredients. 

 You’re likely to go Ninja on these super-stuffed Ninja rolls

I find the handcrafted truffle fettucine pasta satisfying, redolent with truffle oil, with plump shiitake mushrooms, and a pleasing umaminess. The teriyaki chicken and shiitake lasagna meanwhile, is more of an acquired taste, since we are so used to lasagne being a comforting mix of cheese and tomato. 

Speaking of comfort food, the Miso Truffle Risotto has a dash of soy sauce, and the Sake And Shrimp Risotto is made with the customary Arborio rice, sport a jaunty Parmesan tuille, but also has a generous splash of sake. Nuvo’s pizzas have some interesting toppings that are more than the perfunctory hat-tip to Itameshi cuisine. The Tonkatsu Chicken has panko-coated fried chicken with baby rocket, white onions, and some strong-flavoured nori crisps. Another unique one is the one with water chestnut and kimchi over the usual tomato sauce and mozzarella! Go Asian or go home, it seems to say. 

Italian pizza with Japanese pepperoni? Sounds like a plan
Udon Miso Bolognaise is the epitome of Itameshi cuisine, with perfectly made wheat noodles replacing spaghetti

For me, the hero dish of the day is the simplest — pineapple grilled to perfection, brushed with honey, lemon, chili, and gleaming with a teriyaki glaze. Served on a gorgeous at-table grill that I covet almost instantly, it is something that I could eat in every season… the tanginess uplifting a hot Pune summer, and its sweet-spicy warmth making a cold winter quite special. 

Grilled pineapple for the win

As they say, Nuvo is a vibe. Soaring ceiling, crystal chandeliers, stunning flooring, one wall enriched with a wildlife-patterned wallpaper and glamorous seating inside golden cages that seem tailor-made for the ‘gram. The emerald-green bar with onyx marble lit from inside is sheer eye candy too and the five ‘hero’ cocktails crafted by Hiramon Paul are pretty on-point. And pretty, to boot! 

The subtle Shibui is a whiskey-based cocktail with hints of matcha and vanilla

Shibui, which means a subtle, and unobtrusive beauty in Japanese, is just that. An elegant drink that grows on you without your realising. A blend of milk-washed Toki whiskey, the lip-smackingly good, clarified cocktail is embellished with Japanese matcha powder, vanilla sticks, and yuzu. And while I love the sparkling Negroni that Paul is experimenting with while I’m there (hoping that’s on the menu soon!), the one that everyone’s going to be gaga about, is named Top of the World. It is an aromatic concoction that will bring you to jasmine-scented bliss, spark joy with a dash of lemongrass nectar, and add a Vermouth Bianco sparkle to your step. The cocktails don’t quite fit the Itameshi brief, but each one is a delight and complements the flavours of the food menu well, so I’m not complaining. 

You can’t matcha this

The desserts do a good job of this, though. The Matcha Espresso Tiramisu has the right balance of both cultures, as does the boozy sweet sake and lychee sorbet. I think these would make anyone from anywhere in the world quite happy, not only the Japanese, Italians, Americans, and Indians! 

Address: Nuvo, Sheraton Grand Pune, Raja Bahadur Mill Road, Sangamvadi, Pune 

Timings: 5pm-1.30am (daily); 12pm-1.30am (on Sundays)

Meal for two (with drinks): INR 3500

Photo: Featured Restaurant