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My new Delhi pizzas list

(From a week-long eatathon)

Despite trying to be on a diet this month, I have contrarily found myself in situations where a pizza is sometimes inevitable: A quick lunch with an old friend suddenly struck with a craving for a good cheese pizza, whinning kids, cook going on leave and nothing to cook with at home, birthday meals and, of course, food reviews… How is anyone to lose any weight? Nevertheless, the silver lining is that I am able to share and rate all my pizza experiences— mind you, all had within the space of a week. Here goes:

1. Diva Café, GK I, N Block: It is impossible to say “no” when Ritu Dalmia is feeding you. I went to the new Diva Café last week for a review and what a treat it proved to be. Ritu felt that I knew most of her Italian cooking, so she fed me with a lot of the Asian stuff she is dabbling in, which is all excellent. And while, I would go there again for

a) the most addictive Nutella milkshake you can come across anywhere

b) bacon wrapped prawns served with an onion relish (sigh… pile on the calories), it is c) the pizzas that are outstanding. I tried the thin crust pepperoni version. Ritu uses fresh halapenos (everyone else uses preserved ones out of a bottle) and shows me what a “correct” pizza should be like: Hot off the oven, the cheese should be melted of course, but the crust per se, should be foldable without breaking…

2. Margharita at the Market Café, Khan Market: Meeting an old college mate with her two kids in tow was a happy reunion. The adults were not hungry so we settled in with our chai, but the kids could hardly be content with their iced teas, could they? So we ordered a “plain cheese” pizza for them. To my surprise and delight, Market Café served up one of the best pizzas I have had in a long time. The crust is really thin here—the way I like it best, crispy. We had a slice first out of the kids’ share and so good it was that we ordered another pizza and then finding ourselves still sharing it with the bacchas, ordered a third—takeaway, this time! Definitely a must try even if you don’t like the rest of the food at this place too much…

3. Olive, Mehrauli: I rang in my 35th birthday at one of my favourite places in town—Olive at Mehrauli. It is surely the prettiest restaurants in Delhi and Saby is an interesting, innovative chef. The exception this time was that mom and dad came along. While my mom is adventurous when it comes to food, dad is not and would stick to Indian any day—and he is really dismissive of pizzas that he calls the most rubbish food on this planet (!) We tempted him with the prospect of some great fish and off we went. Sitting in the courtyard outside, we were possibly the only table to be so devoted to culinary matters—the rest all focused on drinking. The highlights of the meal

a) a lovely salad of rocket, apples, and cheese

b) a totally rocking gnocchi with soft shell crabs and prawns that my husband ordered

c) the warm bread that comes complimentary with enough tomatoes, garlic, olives and olive oil to be crushed fresh on the table

d) the awesome birthday cake Saby made for me… embellished with a sparkler, and, of course,

e) the pizzas. How can you not have those? Despite not wanting to avoid carbs at night ( I did have the basa for my main course), the veg pizza that I had ordered for mom tempted me. What I like best here is the generous size apart from the toppings and the crust.

4. Domino’s thin crust Gourmet: It is impossible to avoid ordering in pizzas even if you have generally vowed not to. But if you are doing so, try going with this one. It is the best one around—even if it is vegetarian. I hate American style pizzas, but this with its thin crust, jalapenos, corn and olives is the best you will get from the pizza delivery guys in India. And the garlic bread… oh, that is addictive.

5. Not so hot: A meeting with my old boss took me to Pizza Hut, instead of Sarvanna Bhawan because that had a long waiting queue. So did Pizza Hut but it was shorter… We ordered their regular pan crust pizza with all the veggies except mushrooms… and this was strictly regular fare.

6. Totally avoid: Planned to go to the Akshardham Temple with my daughter and mom-in-law (who loves pizzas) primarily to see the musical fountain there. But no one had told us (when we called) that entry would be closed post 6 pm. So we had to come back home… to er, no dinner, since we had planned to eat at the temple complex. I found an old pamphlet of Slice of Italy and ordered “Everything on it” from there. It came cold and unappetizing. The accompanying garlic bread was a disaster, dry toast sticks with no flavour and the BBQ chicken wings tasted of kachcha oil, the kind you sometimes taste in jalebis that have not been fried right by the halwai. Substandard fare. Rs 600 wasted.

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