Ribs With East Indian Spices
Ribs With East Indian Spices

As we spot a couple sitting on wicker chairs, against the backdrop of a beautiful sunset and waves kissing the rocks, we are momentarily transported to an evening on Carter Road. Except that the setting is projected on a screen. In another digital projection, blush-hued bougainvillea growing on an earth-toned wall enchant us.

Created by Ayaz Basrai of The Busride Design Studio, it celebrates Bandra's green pockets. These elements, and a food and drink menu inspired by the suburb, make up The Bandra Project by PizzaExpress.

Maple Chicken
Maple Chicken

Manhattan meets Goa
The all-day community bar and kitchen is the pizza chain's first hyperlocal restaurant. By year-end, they will launch outlets in Khar and Kamala Mills with the same concept. "Each will be influenced by its neighbourhood. Ayaz designed our first outlet in Colaba. We have a long-term engagement with him to synergise the design of all outlets," says Deepinder Batth, COO, Gourmet Investments that operates the chain in India.

Over acoustic versions of Coldplay and Rihanna tracks, we soak in the Manhattan-meets-Goa vibe of the 3,000 sq ft space, with chequered tiles, colonial-style marble tables, a bar illustrated with designs of quaint bungalows and geometric high-rises [all by architect Pronit Nath] and a dining section facing a lotus pond.

Ragi Pancakes
Ragi Pancakes

An ode to the East Indian
Drawn up in consultation with several homegrown and international chefs, the eats menu packs in a variety of European dishes, many tweaked with East Indian influences, as an ode to one of the suburb's most prominent communities. For example, Ribs With East Indian Spices (Rs 895, all prices exclusive of taxes) features smoked pork doused generously in a spicy bottle masala-style rub that we enjoy with baked baby potatoes.

A digital projection of Carter Road promenade at the restaurant
A digital projection of Carter Road promenade at the restaurant

We savour several small plates, sandwiches, sliders and cheese platters. The menu also includes Italian pizza, pasta and risotto that the pizzeria is known for. We enjoy Ragi Pancakes (Rs 395), where crisp, mini ragi discs heave under chunks of chorizo; the spice level balanced with a dash of sour cream. Spicy And Sweet Aubergine (Rs 475) is a bruschetta-esque small plate that marries the flavours perfectly, accentuated by charred and fleshy aubergine and crusty bread. Reminiscent of Bandra's bakeries is York Fingers (Rs 475), where strips of flaky pastry are stuffed with bacon and cheese. We wash it down with The Fort (Rs 495), a salute to the suburb's Portuguese fort. The drink is a potent whiskey-based take on the Old Fashioned with a hint of sweetness from maple syrup.

The interiors. Pics/Bipin Kokate
The interiors. Pics/Bipin Kokate

Maple love
Another main that we relish is Maple Chicken (Rs 745), where fall-off-the-bone meat, glazed with maple syrup and red chillies, plays a scrumptious medley on our tastebuds, accompanied with a creamy potato mash. Even the carnivore in us is satiated with Mushroom Stroganoff (Rs 745) that explodes with the umami flavours of the fungii, creaminess from the sauce and al dente wild rice.

Ayaz Basrai
Ayaz Basrai

Over rounds of a heady Espresso Martini and Boozy Hot Chocolate, Basrai indulges us in lively chatter about the film Andaz Apna Apna, and stalking Shakti Kapoor on a flight. As we exit, we realise that this project may've just helped rekindle our love affair with the still-charming suburb.