After Pretenders, Real Pizzas Make a Mark - The New Indian Express

After Pretenders, Real Pizzas Make a Mark

Published: 25th January 2014 03:47 PM

Last Updated: 25th January 2014 03:49 PM

In blatantly ripping off from a cult Sci-fi flick, one must be not only astutely careful but also decidedly in hold of some information that validates such plagiarism. Pizza (and Chinese food, but maybe not in that order), have done more to bring world communities together than the UN.

Think if you will, about how we have all come to see the pizza as comfort food, the kind that transcends cultures and borders, race and economic make-up: the quintessential pizza, a piece of leavened dough with sauce, cheese and toppings, is one dish that has been interpreted a million times and never once needed

to be translated.

It supersedes burgers in that pizzas are considered to be the easier of the two when conjuring up one at home and the amount of creativity a pizza can afford is almost stupendous, if not to mention in the cases of some pizzas I have been served, horrendous! That said, the biggest thing that the pizza has going for it is that even a vegetarian one tastes bloody good. Now that is one thing I would never say about a burger. If I all I craved was an aloo-tikki, I’d much prefer gorging at the roadside eateries.

Pizza has had the capital in its throes for quite some time now. My generation grew up burning the top of our mouths on Nirula’s pizzas, something that was as far from the real thing as India from Italy, and yet, like a magazine article, it allowed us a greedy glimpse. It took most of us a good while to graduate to the real McCoy and only happened when we touched foreign shoes.

The opening of Amici and Spaghetti Kitchen put that ever-longed for pizza within reach (Amici also had some quirky versions like the chilli chicken pizza to keep. Among the hotels, nothing  beats Italia by The Park. Sure Domino’s had settled in earlier than these but their pizza is the kind that possibly inspired Al Pacino to mouth all those expletives in Scarface. Pizza Hut, sadly, is worse but luckily for them, they are so far from a good pizza that the Italians (no, the world) thinks its an entirely different dish altogether!

Chicago Pizza does nice slices and their kiosk format is a brilliant way to dispense, even though I am yet to see that elusive deep-dish style being served, so synonymous with the city. Chicago, not Delhi. That said, Gurgaon is luckier in every way and Fat Lulu’s, for now, remains among the two best pizzas I’ve recently had.

The other was at California Pizza Kitchen. They are, by far, the best possible amalgamation of corporate standardised procedure and gourmet flavours i.e., they manage to hit consistency and quality. The only thing that doesn’t work for them is their name, for they are much more than a pizza place; I loved the salads and the starters and it has taken me more than a year to get around to trying them. I remained oblivious to their other offerings till their international brand ambassador cum chef Justin Parras, flew down specially to serve them up. Yes, I am spoilt like that.

But back to pizzas, I think the evolution isn’t over. Or complete. As with all things in life, the cycle of thesis, anti-thesis, and synthesis hasn’t quite had its turn yet with this simple Italian preparation. Best to sit back and enjoy this episode of history-in-the-making, as zanier versions land on Indian shores, finding their way into mainstream dining, till such point that we wonder how we ever managed without them.

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