Whoever knew that a pizza joint could satiate all senses in one go? Pizza Metro Pizza in Mumbai makes that a strong possibility!
By: Karishma Suri
Posted on: January 28, 2013
‘There is no sincerer love than the love of food,’ said George Bernard Shaw, and I, for one, have to agree with him. Be it chocolates or cheese, food has always been the pleasing factor in most lives. Topping the ‘favourite food’ list is the omnipresent pizza. Whether thin crust or pan, pizzas are welcome at any second of the day. Giving the pizza lovers in the crowned queen of Mumbai’s suburbs, Bandra, a chance to delve into a one metre long pizza is U.K. based, Pizza Metro Pizza, which opened their first ever pizzeria in India.
With a dream team flown down from Italy and fresh ingredients, Chef Diego Palladino seems all set to capture the Indian hearts. Since the menu offers antipasti, insalate, paste, carni and pesci and pizza, Italian food lovers may just be in for a treat. “Most of the key ingredients have been brought in from Italy – from the flour and tomatoes used for the pizza, to the olive oil, hard cheeses and dried meats. The fresh vegetables and meats are from India; as are the soft cheeses,” said Mr Sam Malde, part owner of the restaurant.
Appealing to the eyes and ears
Many will agree when I say that home is not only about a personal bond but also about warmth, familiarity and comfort. The restaurant takes this concept and infuses the interiors with an old rustic theme, so you will find copper pots and pans, wooden chairs and atmospheric lighting at the restaurant. There are times when you will feel like you are in someone’s kitchen or dining area while you share a sumptuous meal, good wine and each other’s company, which is precisely the prime vision behind Pizza Metro Pizza’s homely and informal setting. Food for Italians is a focal part of their lives and traditions, which also enhances family togetherness. “Keeping this in mind the décor has been done in a very soft manner, wherein majority of the interiors comprises of copper finishing, right from the kitchen to the bar area, with a very warm and welcoming feeling – transporting you to somewhere in Italy,” said Mr Malde. Adding an authentic feel is the traditional wood fired oven imported from Italy. The eyes witness jolly chefs who also know how to have fun while whipping up pizzas.
Be sure to take a good look at the mural sketch on the wall. It depicts a classic Neapolitan food market, so you can see, eat and feel Italian all through your meal! The sketch is similar to the ones in their two outlets in the U.K, all of which have been hand painted by the same artist, Geoff Gough. The sketch in India is customised with the element of an auto rickshaw, Mount Vesuvius in the backdrop and even Chef Diego as a secret character for people to find while they wait for their meal (no, I wasn’t able to find it). The walls are dotted with lively and entertaining posters featuring the Napoli film actor Toto who was well known for his funny, tongue-in -cheek approach to humour, and you may just enjoy them if you get his drift. That’s that for the eyes, while the ears focus in and out between a warm chatter, as fine Italian music waves through the air to enhance the ambience.
The sense of taste
All meats and no chicken make a perfect Italian pizza and Chef Diego makes no exceptions to that rule. But since Italians are not the kind to break hearts, they included chicken items on the menu to suit the Indian palate. Don’t be surprised if you don’t find seasonings like oregano and chilli flakes because they use chilli oil instead! The restaurant offers an exquisite range of antipasti to charge up your appetite with the likes of Olive Marinate, Pane Pizza, Mozzareline Fritte and more. Health aficionados can dig into a variety of salads to satiate their craving. I had the ‘Palle di RisoVegeteariane’ which came highly recommended for vegetarians (crispy fried rice balls filled with melting mozzarella, green peas, parmesan and basil). It fell short on flavour and taste, but will fill up your tummy. The Gamberoniall'aglio (king prawns in garlic butter chilli sauce, with potatoes and mixed salad) stood out because of the juicy prawns that were made even better with the garlic butter. Being perfectly cooked, your feet will tingle with joy as you feel the prawns melt in the mouth.
On the menu is a ‘must sink your teeth into’ - Tagliolini Bombay - which is prepared in a parmesan wheel, flambéed with cognac and the pasta tossed into all of it. Extremely heavy, be sure to scoop it all up quickly because it won’t taste good once cold (it dries up and hardens). But the excitement and experience of watching a chef prepare the pasta in front of you is a visual treat for the eyes as well as the olfactory senses. Italian tradition calls for your pasta cooked ‘al dente’ and Chef Diego strongly believes in retaining the authenticity and flavour of your pasta (they won’t make it well done even if you ask them too).
Another signature dish is the Club 9 pizza with goat cheese and mozzarella melting into green chilli, okra, basil and parmesan, as well as the metre long pizzas cooked in a wood burning oven – right in front of your eyes! We had the Pecorino pizza (Goat cheese, red onions, mozzarella, grana padano and basil) which was quite delicious except for the fact that it had no tomato sauce as a base. Purely a cheese lover’s delight, I had to consider walking home after it. Non-vegetarians can have the Capricciosa (mozzarella, tomato, ham, salame, black olives and mushrooms) which was one of their best pizzas, because of the flavourful tomato sauce, and while it was crispy on the outside, the middle was soft enough for us to wrap up the pizza and bite into it!
The food is complimented by an exceptional array of red and white wines as well as various other premium spirits, but they don’t usually push clients to have an alcoholic beverage, since they position themselves as an Italian eatery. Thus, wine is the preferred beverage here. Ask your server to pair up a good wine that will cut through all the cheese that you may consume.
Chef Diego surprises with the dessert of the day which varies each day, but I would strongly recommend the Tiramisu which was fluffy and light, and bursting with flavour. I have no idea where it went after such a heavy meal.
A deeper delve
If the team manages to impress you, which I’m sure they will, it’s because the staff had several years of experience before joining Pizza Metro Pizza. “The waiters went through a few weeks of training, before we opened, to understand and taste the dishes and learn the correct pronunciation (and a little bit of Italian!),” said an excited Mr Malde. So watch out, and brush up on that Italiana and brus'ketta!
The rejoinder to this venture seems incredible. What else could you expect with true to the roots Italian food and key components from the tried and tested London menu? “Guests are enjoying the ambience and atmosphere of the restaurant, loving the food, especially the one metre pizza,” said Mr Malde.
A little birdie also told us that they have recently started take away pizza, and are soon going to launch deliveries as well. As for future restaurants – they are already planning for expansion soon, in Mumbai, other major cities in India and the rest of Asia. Maintaining their consumer base seems important to them and they want to concentrate on preserving their service standards and quality of food. Putting their money on ‘experience is key’ as a motto, this pizzeria seems to be playing their cards right. So all’s well that ends well…with a pizza.
Coordinates: Pizza Metro Pizza, Jharna Apartments, Dr B R Ambedkar Road, Bandra West, Mumbai
Ph: +91-22-6599 3333/3334
Open for lunch and dinner (closed on Mondays)