A bright space with beautiful photographs on white walls, shiny red tiles, tiny little tables with red chairs and an open kitchen with a beautiful oven from Naples on display is what you’ll see when you enter banker-turned-baker Jai Thakur’s pizza and pasta place, Di Napoli.
The menu is short and disappointing with four antipasti and four salads, both only vegetarian, pizzas with mostly vegetarian choices, four pastas with an option to add only chicken for non-vegetarians, four desserts and aerated drinks.
With the restaurant branding itself as a pizza place with an oven from Naples and a double-certified Neapolitan Pizza specialist on board, skipping salads and mains and ordering for two pizzas seemed like a wise choice, but we were wrong. We ordered for Quattro Formaggi (Rs 485) and Bianca al Prosciutto (Rs 685) — both were names that the staff couldn’t pronounce. Both pizzas arrived in less than 15 minutes and both were equally inedible. The base was thin but had no seasoning or oil and large sections were burnt.
The Quattro Formaggi or the four-cheese pizza with Gorgonzola, Mozzarella, Parmesan and Feta was too bitter for those who appreciate creamy pizzas, the caramelised onions on top seemed like an unnecessary addition as it did not enhance the taste while the pimento stuffed green olives were thrown on top without being sliced.
The Bianca al Prosciutto was slightly better but not a dish we’d want to cough up R685 for. The small, scarce mozzarella placed only in the centre of the pizza formed the first layer on the burnt base and the argula and the ice-cold imported parma ham were shabbily placed
After politely sending our pizzas back after taking a bite, we decided to give the pasta a shot. With two pesto options for vegetarians, which we ignored, the only two choices left were the Fettucini Alla Funghi (Rs 295) and Angel Hair Alfredo (Rs 295); we chose the latter.
The dish that arrived reminded us of our college days; not in a good way, that is. What was served to us in the name of Italian pasta was big chunks of raw broccoli, which our forks couldn’t tackle despite multiple attempts, along with lumps of massively overcooked pasta stuck together, and smothered in creamy sauce with minimal seasoning. After being starved and unable to eat our pizzas, we finished the bowl of pasta in less than ten minutes but we felt completely cheated for having to shell out R300 for chicken and cheese Maggi-styled noodles that saw us through many a day in college.
Since we had already placed orders for our Budino Cremoso (R220) dessert, the Italian crème caramel with wine poached pears we had no choice but to go through with it. After our forgettable experience with the mains we were, admittedly, afraid of what lay ahead. The portion was small (especially for the pricing) while the chef’s idea of poached pear didn’t match our imagination. Our dessert was two thin slices of hard, underdone pear placed on top of the crème caramel with a hint of the delicious brown layer of caramel one expects. It was yellowish orange instead, and we could barely taste it. The rest of the layers, however, were okay; at least it wasn’t as bad as the rest of our meal.
If we hadn’t dropped by for an anonymous review, we would certainly have protested and walked out without clearing the hefty bill. In the owner’s defense, he did not charge us for one pizza when he realised we were unhappy with the food.