As part of their food fest, Cafe Mangii has come up with pizzas that have flavours from Indonesia, South Africa, Singapore and other nations
The busy Bandra street that leads to Cafe Mangii hardly prepares you for the experience inside. The wooden door opens into a dimly-lit quaint cafe oozing old world charm. In the background, I discern Chris De Burgh crooning Lady in Red. As I settle down to sample their World Pizza Festival menu which is on till February 10, I keep my fingers crossed as I'm pretty fastidious when it comes to these Italian beauties. But Cafe Mangii is one of the first few restaurants to have introduced authentic wood-fire pizzas in the city and this makes me hopeful.
The Samba Portuguesa
I pick up the menu and the options are rather limited — 10 to be precise. But a closer look at the toppings piques my interest. While the non-vegetarians can choose from Garlic Roasted Calamari, Grilled Fish Shreds, Country eggs, Flambeed Shrimps apart from the more usual chicken ham, parma ham, salami, beef strips etc, the options for the vegetarians are equally exciting and, at times, even innovative.
From nachos and salsa, bamboo shoots and pak choi, to French fries and Brie in sour cream, the combination of toppings are telltale signs that they take their pizzas seriously. As I gear up for a taste-drive, the manager, Clinton D'Costa, joins me for a quick chat. He reveals: "We have taken elements from global cuisines and tried to incorporate them in these pizzas," he tells me. The conversation is cut short as the pizzas arrive.
I am not a fan of Indian pizzas and I indicate that as The Desi (R595) is put in front of me. But D' Costa suggests I taste it as it uses makkhani gravy instead of the usual tomato-based pizza sauce. The spicy makkhani gravy and the green chillies bring tears to my eyes. The paneer is moist and well-seasoned and the spinach and tomatoes are all in the right amount. But it is the cilantro garnish that adds a twist to the flavour palette.
The desi pizza at Cafe Mangii
French Connection (R595) is next. And when they say 'Only Paris is worthy of Rome; only Rome is worthy of Paris' it is not without reason. The French indeed bring out the best in the Italians; at least in this case it does! The tomato base is replaced by Alfredo sauce, whi-ch makes the pizza base creamy, the french fries used as toppings are moist and the sour cream perfectly balances the fruity, mild, nutty, tangy taste of the Brie. This has to be one of the best veg pizzas I have had.
But, I need some meat now and I start with their top seller — Trip to Hollywood (R725). It has toppings of salami, chicken ham along with mushrooms, caramalised onions and cherry tomatoes. Although the veggies are cooked to perfection, the meat chunks are a tad bland for my taste. And I am kind of disappointed. But then I have always preferred a Jean-Luc Godard or a François Truffaut to Hollywood.
The last one on my to-do list is the Samba Portuguesa (Rs 775). Say cheese! Say beef! and I go weak in the knees.
And this one comes loaded with both. The beef strips are chunky and juicy and remind me of a good well-done steak. It also has generous slices of boiled eggs that add both texture and flavour to the pizza. Among the non-veg pizzas I didn't try, the one that I found the most interesting was the Singaporean Merlon with calamari and grilled fish toppings. That should be my reason to return lest the French Connection wanes with time!
Where: Cafe Mangii, Mangal Bhawan, 14th Road, Off Linking Road, Khar West