Thursday, January 21, 2010

Pizzeria Romano

When I think wood fire pizza I am overcome with the delightfully unique combined aroma of smoke and yeast, followed by the characteristic and almost quintessential pizza imagery – a thin, crisp, white disc dappled with air bubbles and charcoal greyish, dark brown splotches.

Good wood fire pizza is not so much about the toppings as it is about the crust. Actually – it’s all about the crust – it should be a light and airy while at the same time it needs to be substantial and wholesome, if that makes any sense at all. The dough needs to be elastic – stretchy, not dense and heavy which will result in a tough, unpleasant thick crust. But why all the fuss about a crust on a pizza pie when it comes to firing them up a` la wood oven?

Simple, high temperatures mean it cooks whatever is popped in there quickly – so the thinner the pizza base, the more even a bake. A thick crust baked in a wood fire oven will usually result in scorched surface and underdone insides and bottom.

As far as my eating habits are concerned I could be Italian. Italian food always hits the spot. It has to be Italian food if I am celebrating, and it’s what I crave when I need to be comforted. In fact Italian is what I seem to be constantly cooking up whether I’m fixing a quick bite, or one of those days I lock myself up in my kitchen attempting ridiculously cumbersome recipes. For me Italian food is home.

Unfortunately I do not have a wood fire oven, nor do many (or of fact ANY) restaurants in Bangalore. Lido at The Ista Hotel, Mynt at The Taj West End and Herbs and Spice do some of the best thin crust pizzas in town, but come last weekend my adventurous nose was wide awake, sniffing around for a new place to try – this came in the form of Pizzeria Romano last Saturday night.

I had no idea what to expect – all I had seen was an advertisement. So it was back to Koromangala’s 6th Block, 5th Cross once again (earlier in the week I tried Thulp) to learn that the place not only served pizzas but pasta as well and had a section of Lebanese and Thai food too (not that this upped the wow factor for me). Let me explain why – I am quickly displeased at restaurants that are a bit over ambitious aiming to please every customer by offering extensive items and/ styles of cuisine. Specialisation is the key to running a successful business and makes for the closest thing to perfection in my humble opinion.

Upon entering the restaurant I was pleasantly surprised by the tasteful decor and lighting. The menus however with their bold colours printed on plastic were a bit tacky for my taste, ultra reminiscent of a takeaway pizza diner along the lines of Dominos or Pizza Hut.

Since the place is a supposed to be a pizzeria, I decided to stick to what they pride themselves on – pizza, duh! Unfortunately I had to put the carnivore in me to bed that evening since the restaurant does not serve pork. Personally speaking chicken on a pizza is just crazy talk – I will have none of that. How can you run a pizza joint and omit the mother of all toppings, oink, PORK – where the classics such as salami, mortadella, prosciutto, chorizo and good ole’ pepperoni are derived from!

So it was the Four Cheese pizza in a 16 inch and the Shitake Mushroom pie in a 12 inch shared by three ladies – my mum sister and myself. The verdict: Romano’s pizza crust is far from the best in town. Afore mentioned restaurants serve up crust that is miles ahead. Sunny’s that does not do what I call a thin crust, but rather a light hand tossed version is undoubtedly supreme. Romano’s pizza crust falls down mostly because the edges were tough and its seems to be missing that extra sumthin’ sumthin’ to give it pizzazz.

All in all the vegetarian pizza toppings worked well. Apart from the pizza they serve up some interesting wine cocktails, provide efficient service along with comfortable ambience. For dessert the Apple Pie we ordered was passé – the dreadful part was picking out of a single slice not one or two, but SIX whole cloves from the apple mixture mid bite! Either the chef is heavy handed when it comes to spicing desserts, although I can’t even begin to fathom the necessity of cloves in apple pie... beats me!

As for the price, for all we ate: 2 pizzas (a 12” and a 16”), 2 wine cocktails, 1 coke and dessert: Rs. 1800/-