THE HUNT FOR A FAB PIZZA ENDS HERE!
It’s quite a struggle to find the perfect pizza in India even though it’s one of the most common non-Indian dishes around. I’m not talking about a bready-biscuity base most 5 star restaurants insist on serving.
I’m clearly not talking about the abomination that is Domino’s or Pizza Hut. I’m talking about a doughy yet thin crust wood fired pizza. Simple flavours of tomato & basil from the passata, enhanced by stringiness from a good quality mozzarella that adds a creamy texture, maybe a few toppings to complete like really good salami, caramelised onions or Arugula.
A fantastic pizza is not just these things, a good pizza gets elevated to a brilliant pizza with a perfectly uneven, charred-from-places crust that has a distinct smell from being cooked in a wood-fired oven, when it leaves dry flour on your fingers that’s smokey & slightly bitter from being in the heat for too long. The kind of pizza you don’t count by slice & is a real pizza in all it’s glory.
I can proudly say I found one such specimen at Baba’s Wood Cafe in Arpora. Tucked away in a bylane next to a very happening part of Goa, Baba’s Wood Cafe is a cutesy little place that welcomes you with a brick oven style Arch and a lovely collection of colourful plates.
The first thing you feast your eyes on is their piece de resistance - the Oven. Take a left and you enter a vividly different space. High lofty ceilings, splashes of dark blue & orange provide the right background for larger than life retro black & white Photographs. Comfortable seating, goblets of wine & trinkets for sale.
This space is complete with a loud sign that states that it’s a pet-friendly restaurant and that’s validated by their in-house friendly Labrador swinging about like he owns the place. The real owner, however, is very much present. An old Italian lady called Maria who seemed to be very involved & attentive goes to every table & by the looks of it, most of the patrons turned out to be regulars.
We started with a half & half pizza which was 50% Salami & Mozzarella & the other 50 was a Scarmoza & Banana Chilli pizza. We chose to cover the whole thing with caramelised onions. It was a pizza worth its weight in gold. My little hallelujah moment for all the times I’ve craved a pizza from that place I really like at Piazza Sant’ Ambrogio in Florence.
We followed it up with their Aglio Olio. Al dente Spaghetti, Garlic, pimento, parsley & a generous helping of Parmesan. Simply plated with no theatrics & so satisfying.
We dared ourselves to try another classic here after two back to back hits, praying they don’t falter. The Tiramisu transported me back to any street corner in Italy. A heady cocktail of Kahlua & coffee offset by creamy & cooling Mascarpone. I could’ve finished two portions all by myself.