I have always wondered if the native tastes of one region can be replicated in some other region of the world and if that replication can be called exact. For example take our Punjabi food. When you go to South India, the plastic stuff that you get in the name of “parauntha” is anything but. In the same way, the South Indian food that we get down here in Punjab is not the real taste of the South… and so I’ve been told by many.
If we cannot even authenticate the food of our country in various parts how can we genuinely claim to be having continental dishes? Which brings me to the point of Pizzas. I like them, most of you must like them as well. But are we really eating the true Italian Pizzas? I have always had this inclination at the back of my head that the pizzas we get at Dominos and Pizza Hut are probably not the real deal, but the stereotype versions of the original.
So, if the replicated pizzas of Dominos/Pizza Hut taste so good, how do the original Italian Pizzas taste? I have asked some friends online at facebook about it as well and the answer I always get is that “They are more bland.” But words can’t suffice for the taste that you feel and I have always craved for eating the original pizzas. That’s why I just had to visit the Pizza More Italia that has just opened up in Sector 22 Chandigarh. The eating joint came recommended from some of my close friends who had the chance to eat there before I did. But the word of caution was “Go with an open mind” and “forget everything about the type of Pizzas you have eaten till now”.
The very first thing happened inside the Pizza More was that one jolly and healthy looking person came upto me and wished me New Year in Punjabi and welcomed me. I was bit confused as that doesn’t happen to you in eating joints. In fact the same chap was doing the same thing to every customer that walked in. Now, he certainly wasn’t a paid person to do that as he looked quite well to do. Later I found out, he is in fact the owner of the Pizza More Italia. He was Mr. Jyoti Singh from Florence, Italy. After a while he metamorphed into Jyoti bai as we got on to further talking.
My first pizza at Pizza More - Maialona
That’s the Pudine Di Chatni Wala Pizza
I got into talk with him and discovered a lot about the place and the concept behind it. I really didn’t know that a Punjabi owned the restaurant, but boy, there was a lot I didn’t know. Apparently he owns 5 restaurants back in Italy by the name of Haveli. When we hear that word, we get images of a lot of Hawlies in India, but his restaurants are one of the best eating joints in Italy. His restaurants have been described as the Best Ethnic Restaurants in Italy by the newspaper La Repubblica.
Jyoti bai told me that his clients include the best of the best in Italy and that he enjoys this reputation as it is associated with his passion for food. His clients include Salvatore Ferragamo of FIAT group for whom they have organized buffets at theme parties. Also they have organized feasts for JW Steals at Il Borro and Pizza More Italia is his latest venture.
Let’s fast forward and get back to the business of Pizzas. Now, the pizzas they served defiantly didn’t look like pizzas we eat at Dominos. At Pizza More they are quite small in “height”; more like they are at Pizza Hut. There is a lot of Olive oil and oregano seasoning is provided to you in a “crusher”. The first one I tried was regular Maialona as I randomly picked it. Why? Because I really couldn’t understand the menu as most of it has Italian feel to it. But that’s how I am at most of the restaurants. Even at Dominos I get confused in ingredients. The good thing at Pizza Italia was that they explained every single ingredient to me in detail.
That’s a crusher. It has oregano seasoning in it. At first I thought it was for decoration. Don’t laugh.. i’ve never been to Italy.
Head chef Attilio and Jyoti Bai
As for Maialona, it was bland just as everyone said it was meant to be. But it was pleasant, not extraordinary, but quite pleasant. The most astonishing thing was that after eating it, I felt as if I had eaten nothing at all whereas at Dominos or Pizza Hut I feel quite contempt after eating one pizza. I asked about this to Jyoti Bai and he explained that’s exactly how Italian pizza is supposed to make you feel. He explained further that these pizzas are the routine meals for Italians just as our dal and roti are for us and they are meant to be quite light. Imagine that! He says that American food chains have converted Pizzas into junk food, which they really aren’t.
And really if you think it on that basis you will understand the whole idea. Can you imagine eating a Domino pizza for every meal? I can’t. It’s once a month thing for me, but the pizzas you have at Pizza More can surely be eaten at intervals as they are very light. Jyoti Bai ordered the next two Pizzas for me. They were Napoli with fish fillet in it and Genovese with guess what? Pudine di chatni. Even in 100 years I couldn’t have imagined a Pizza with Pudine di chatni as its ingredient. But it was tasty, quite delicious. More than Pudina Pizza (as I call it now) I enjoyed the fish pizza. The taste of that was really something.
4 Cheese Pizza = Awesome
The thing I noticed was that yes they were bland but you could taste every ingredient to the fullest. In our home cooked pizzas we add so much salt and masala that you only taste that spice in it. But these pizzas give you tastes that you have never had before in your life.
Now we come to the last pizza I ate there and the best I have ever had. It was the 4 Cheese Pizza and man was it good. I have fallen in love with it and at least for me it’s to kill for. For starters it has a lot of cheese in it, but it won’t feel heavy at all. I can’t describe the taste as it has to be felt and tasted for your own. All I can say is that it is a definite recommendation from my side.
I was curious how a Punjabi decided to open an Italian outlet in Chandigarh to which Jyoti Bai replied that once when he visited India with his daughter, she didn’t enjoy any pizza at the regular outlets of Dominos or Pizza Hut. So he said to her, “Don’t worry, I will make you eat Italian Pizza in India one day” and that idea somehow stuck with him. He worked out the possibilities with his CA and friend Steve and after careful planning they came up with the Pizza More.
These are images from Haveli Restaurant in Italy.
Talking about Steve, I also had the chance to meet him and the head chef Attilio (pronounced as hooolio). Sitting together the three of them spoke such amazing Italian that I felt like being in an Italian Gangster movie of some kind. They are a pleasant bunch and very soon Pizza More is to get more chefs and dishes of Italian food.
I also had a Puccia which looked more like Kulcha, but without all the masala and a lot of fresh tomato. I was quite full by then to really have enjoyed it, so I got it packed. All in all I enjoyed the whole ordeal as in the measly existence of my life, for the first time I tasted something different and my tongue was all the happy for it.
Before I left the restaurant, I asked Jyoti bai what he would recommend to a new comer. To which he replied Margherita. Upon asking why, he replied “because it has everything that represents Italian Pizza and when you eat it, you can taste every single ingredient”. He explained that he is representing Italian food in India just as he is representing Punjabi food in Italy. For him it’s very important that people of Punjab should understand the true nature of Italian cuisine. I for one, respect his thoughts. If he is so concerned about the image of Italian food in India, imagine how concerned he must be for his own native food in Italy… all I can say is, both the Italian and the Punjabi foods are in good hands.
Do visit Pizza More Italia at SCO 2453, 2454 Sec 22 Chandigarh if you get a chance to. If Jyoti bai is there, let him know that you are from Punjabiportal and he will greet you with his Italian Punjabi stories and your experience of eating there will double.
here i’m taking the liberty of uploading the Pizza More Menus for you guys: