Since opening her runaway hit series of Delhi-based Italian restaurants – Diva, Diva Cafe and Latitude 28 – Chef Ritu Dalmia has risen to household name status in India. She has a hugely successful brand, encompassing cooking and travel shows, books, countless awards and ardent LGBT activism.

After years of evangelising Italian food abroad — the chef spent her youth travelling Italy with her marble-dealer father – she’s finally flipped the script. Opened this fall in Milan’s Brera district, Cittamani marks Dalmia’s first foray into Indian fine dining in Italy. Billed as Italian-Indian fusion, the menu features Italian-sourced ingredients prepared utilising Indian techniques: Tandoori octopus, slow-cooked pork raan tortelli, plus small plates of stracciatella stuffed poori, mozzarella naan and not a curry to be seen.

Designed following the traditional Hindu system of architecture, Vastu Shastra, which dictates a building’s geometry and layout — a first for Milan-born, London-based architect Paolo Cossu — the space encompasses a bar, dining room and outdoor seating. Further informed by the building’s listed status, the strict parameters resulted in a flexible but pared-back space with a keen focus on materials: original terrazzo floors, restored glass arches, details in brushed brass, sucupira wood, mirrored walls and a proprietary iron mesh resin coating developed specifically for the project. Traditional South African cooking pots overlook the dining room on high shelves, part of a collection accrued by Cittamani’s billionaire investor, Analjit Singh. At the doorway, a sleek marble and brass bar encourages a bustling aperitivo hour, while mirror-lined walls open up the dining room. ’The Milanese,’ explains Cossu of his decision to add the reflective details, ’love to be seen when they go to dinner’. 

The only Indian reference comes in the form of Jeanneret’s Chandigarh chairs: it was a joint decision between Cossu and Dalmia to create a thoroughly Italian room that appealed to the city’s notoriously picky, design-minded clientele.

Their verdict so far? ‘The Milanese love it,’ assures Cossu.§