I’ve just walked into Pizza Express (wifi ed ofcourse), London. A few days before leaving I ate (for the second time) in Pizza Express, Mumbai. After spawning over 400 restaurants in the UK, five months ago, this British import set up on the restaurant street, near the Gateway of India ( the monument set up to welcome a much earlier British visitor). As soon as it opened I invited a bunch of well-traveled foodie guests who had eaten at the UK branches. Be it the vivacious Viveka Purandare who is currently finishing her degree in Finance and
economic Policy at Columbia University or her buddy the charming hospitality consultant Ridhi Kapoor.
Ever-friendly and helpful, Viral Somaiya a graduate from Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising Los Angeles, is a cricket buff, a natural comedian and a foodie all rolled in to one. While both Dhruv Uday Singh and Devang Bhimjiyani are USC graduates, Dhruv is a screenwriter and actor in Los Angeles while Devang is in sports marketing with the Mumbai Indians. The buddies spent the entire dinner chatting (while I eavesdropped) but every now and then they gave me their opinion about the food. The verdict? Some dishes as good as theyd eaten in London. Others below par. On my second dinner with another bunch of diners, almost every single dish met with approval.
Thin is in. But freshly baked is the USP
of their thin crust (classic pizzas) and very thin crust (Romana pizzas). Its only after you order that the dough is rolled and pizza baked in the electric ovens around where the pizziolos bustle continuously. Crispy, thin Pepperoni Romana was fingerlicking food at both meals. Spice lovers ask for the large square Calabrese pizza, enlivened with spicy sausage red chillies, jalapenos topped with baby mozzarella and rocket leaves. Crisp, well-dressed Soho veg. Bosco salad, al dente pasta, be it the pesto based Linguini Alla Genovese or spicy Penne Pollo Piccante. Yeasty, warm, small round dough balls served with garlic butter were an instant hit. Luscious banana and toffee on a biscuit base (Banoffee pie) dense and moist baked cheesecake followed next.
For sure, our Mumbai Pizza Express is better looking than the London Bow street one Ive popped into. In Mumbai its cozy, vibrant and two leveled. Love the black and white patterned floor and the large show kitchen, where pizzaiolos in striped black and white uniforms pound, stretch and toss.
Friendly. Swift. On my second dinner, I joined my guests much later and they were bowled over by the service. Ditto for the London branch.
Noisy, packed and over run with shrieking kids running all over the place (A plus point for families with kids). On our first visit the salad was underdressed and some of the pasta overcooked, on our second visit, we found all those defects taken care of. Oversweet freshly baked fudge cake.
Freshly baked, thin and crisp and in just about every pie the toppings stopped the right distance shy of the edge, leaving a rim of crust that was perfectly blistered. It would be great if they could introduce the “Pizza leggera” the light healthy option ( as they do in London). Swift service, large portions, (meal for two Rs 1200) plenty for vegetarians, a well stocked bar (Peroni beer too) make this British arrival serving Italian pizza just what the Mumbaiker wants (especially the kid Mumbaikers).
Pizza Express, ground floor, Dhanraj Mahal, Colaba 66562633. Open through the day
Meal for two: Rs 1200
HOT NEWS FROM LONDON
In London, I’m always learning and getting better informed. But my current three days were the best ever. I attended the most globally prestigious “The World’s 50 best restaurants awards 2013” as Ive been doing for several years as jury chairperson of the India region.
Here, the family run Spanish Roca brother’s “El Celler Can de Roca” was announced the world’s best restaurant. No Indian restaurant on list, but I found cheer in the fact that the Roca brothers are inspired by our spices and the “Worlds best woman chef” the soft spoken Nadine Santini told me to convey her best to her Italian Sonia Gandhi. The next night I attended the glamorous Tatler Restaurant awards and on the third, was delighted to be at the “Chowster awards”. Here, India’s best food blogger Kalyan Karmakar gave the award for the best curry. Attended the the Roca brothers “gastronimique opera”, had great meals too. The Waneys Peruvian “Coya” is making waves, “Novikov” continues to rock. “L Anima’s” Chef Francesco Mazzei’s masterly home style spicy Sicilian fare thrills. HKK (Hakkasan group’s latest,) very cool, cutting-edge “couture” offering of Chinese fare in the banquet tradition dazzles.
For veg tiffin and non veg tiffin all over Mumbai call Mohini Krishnani. Ph: 9930601904, 24142597
Batata vadas, thalipeeth, chutney patties, Karanjees, methi thepla, methi parathas, authentic Maharashtrian sweets also available. Call Kutumbsakhi at Charni Rd. Ph: 22053977, 9323238767
Grace specialises in all sorts of designer boxes in raw silk,satin and paper and bags for chocolates, brownies, mithais, dryfruits and sweets. Exclusive collection for gifting, Baby Shower,Birth announcements,Bdays and Kids boxes too.Ph: 9819807996
Learn to cook Moghlai, Chinese, Italian Mexican, kebabs, biryani, cakes and chocolates at your place and convenient time call Mrs Khan 9323195215
Umang wants to know where she can get organic mangoes.
Anand wants a veg tiffin for lunch at Churchgate.