Columbus is known for its food, but not necessarily for its Indian cuisine. However, those looking for more authentic Indian options will have their wish granted with the opening of Haveli Bistro downtown in mid-December.
The new upscale restaurant located at 185 N. High St. is co-owned by Rahul Pinnamaneni and Hari Parupalli, and will be open seven days a week for both dine-in and takeout, as well as a weekday lunch buffet.
Pinnamaneni and Parupalli, both natives of Hyderabad, a metropolitan city in southern India, said this has been a dream of theirs since they were roommates during their time at Gitam University in Visakhapatnam, India. The pair then chose to move to Columbus because of its thriving restaurant scene.
“We wanted to start a restaurant together no matter where it was,” Pinnamaneni said. “We wanted a working crowd and downtown Columbus doesn’t have many Indian restaurants so we saw an opportunity [here] and we took it.”
Parupalli said his family owns many restaurants under the Haveli brand in India, so the duo looked there for initial inspiration.
“I know how to cook [and] I like cooking,” Parupalli said. “[So] I took a lot from my restaurants in India and added some fusion dishes in.”
Haveli Bistro will serve food from both northern and southern Indian cuisines — including northern breads like naan and southern rice specialties like biryani — as well as classic dishes like tandoori. However, Pinnamaneni said the restaurant is taking steps that will help to make ethnic Indian food more approachable for those who are not familiar with the cuisine or are wary of it because of its reputation for being spicy.
“There are a lot of items [within Indian cuisine] that can be made mild and good to Americans,” Pinnamaneni said. “That doesn’t mean we’re going to serve bland food — it will be tastier and less spicy and you’ll feel good after eating it.”
While Pinnamaneni recommends the butter chicken, a milder version of curry, and Parupalli recommends the fried ice cream for dessert, they said restaurant-goers will have a difficult time choosing just one meal from the extensive menu that spans across lunch, happy hour, and dinner.
“We have somewhere around 150 menu items,” Pinnamaneni said. “We have an unlimited buffet during lunch and lunch platters. We have good offers on drinks during happy hour and Indian street fare, so there will be different snack items from India and our dinner will be a full service menu.”
And Pinnamaneni and Parupalli have taken every possible measure to make sure Haveli Bistro’s food remains as authentic as the meals they remember eating at home.
“Some of our chefs are coming from India,” Parupalli said.
“We hired local chefs, too,” Pinnamaneni added. “But we’re sending them to India to get trained in [Parupalli’s] family’s restaurants to make sure we get it right here.”
The pair is excited to start serving food they are passionate about to customers they are passionate about.
“When it comes to the term ‘upscale,’ we mean we want our quality and customer service to be the priority,” Pinnamaneni said. “We’re really excited to see how the final product turns out.”