Opened in 1881 at Government Place in Dalhousie area, Peliti’s Restaurant was once a popular eatery and a preferred meeting place of the high society British community in India.
Born on 29 June 1844, Chevalier Federico Peliti was a baker, confectioner, hotelier and an amateur photographer in British India. Descended from a family of surveyors from Valganna, in the Italian Region Lombardy, Federico Peliti was born in Carignano, a municipality in the city of Turin in Italy. He studied sculpture, graduated in 1865 and joined the Third Italian War of Independence as a cavalier in the 1st Nizza regiment. During that time he got an opportunity to make friendship with some confectioners and pastry makers and learned the details about their profession.
In 1869, Peliti won a confectionery competition in Turin, arranged by Lord Mayo, the then Viceroy of India, and left for India to serve the Viceroy as his personal chef. However, in 1872, when his master was unfortunately stabbed to death at Port Blair by a convict named Sher Ali, Peliti returned to Calcutta and started his own business in the city. He opened his first shop O’Neill & Peliti, a bakery at 41 Bentinck Street in partnership with Thomas O'Neil.
But, as the partnership did not last long and broke up after three years, Peliti moved to 18/1 Chowringhee Road in 1875. Eventually, in 1881, he bought an imposing building situated at 11 Government Place in the Dalhousie area and opened a confectionery shop added with a restaurant. It became an instant success, as the European community in the city was fascinated by its magnificent reception halls. They appreciated its food and vermouth and also admired Peliti's sophisticated and masterly crafted cakes. In the month of December 1889 the masterminded Peliti crafted himself a 12 feet tall magnificent replica of the Eiffel Tower in sugar.
Apart from that, with its three course lunch for a hefty sum of Rs. 1.50 only, the eatery also became famous and popular. For a pretty long time, the price remained static and continued from 1917 to around 1924. During 1947, the Firpos’ used to cater a similar standard of lunch for Rs 2.50 only, which proves that Peliti’s charges was quite high, according to the market price during the early decades of that particular Century.
On 26 September1919, a historical lunch meeting was organized at Paliti, which resulted in the formation of the Rotary Club of Calcutta.
Unfortunately, the glamourous building, which once housed one of the finest confectioners in the city of Calcutta, today can offer just another shabby old office building, owned by the LIC. Only the original marble plaque, on the right of the main entrance, still exists as a dumb witness of its magnificent past.