Pizza! Not the rolled-out-of-your-backyard Pizza Hut one, but the really good Italian, wood fired thin crust, topped with fantastic cheese and fresh herb variety! I mean seriously, how can you not fall in love with that one? That’s exactly what ‘Amiamo La Pizza’ means and that’s exactly what I did – fall in love with it! I generally reserve my opinions till the end of the post, but this one deserves special mention – it blew my mind and captured my heart (not to mention the little pirouette my taste buds did!).
Movenpick Hotel & Spa is hosting a gourmet pizza festival at their Italian fine-dining restaurant – Mezzaluna till the 21st of July. (Open for dinner). They have carefully put together a menu of pizzas from different regions of Italy which they have paired with wines from Moncaro. The pizzas are also offered with the choice of regular white or whole wheat crust. (I was skeptical of a whole wheat base, but once I tried it I was a convert. It somehow tasted more earthy and rustic and stayed nice and crisp till the end). So if you want to experience the true taste of Italy just a few kilometers away from home…head to Mezzaluna.
I looked over the menu card and everything looked extremely appetizing. Chef Antonia who designed the menu tries to answer the big question – what makes a great pizza? Apart from the combination of right ingredients and flavours – the key is the appropriate cheese. While Mozzarella is an all time favorite, I was happy to find that a wide variety of cheeses had been used in different combinations. It’s good that as part of the Chef’s Table, I got to try a slice of many different pizzas and can give you a low down on my favorites. We started with the Caprina.
The Caprina was a pizza of robust flavours like mixed wild mushrooms, roasted red peppers and salty goat’s cheese. We were off to a flying start – the flavours were beautifully complimentary and the pizza crust was crispy in all the right places. We tried this Sicilian pizza with a red table wine called Bel Colle. I’m still a novice when it comes to wine pairings, so I appreciated the fact that the hard task was already taken care of.
The next one was a personal favourite of mine and one that had me swooning in delight. The Pizza E Fichi had balsamic marinated figs crowning some velvety slices of parma ham. This was topped with fresh ruccola leaves that added the right amount of crunch and peppery bite to the sweet and salty combination of the figs and parma ham. If there ever was a threesome that worked – this would be it! I could not stop at one slice and was reluctant to let the pie be passed around. When something works so beautifully, you really want to compliment the chef. And that is exactly why I ask Chef Thomas to take a bow! Eva Moncada (the wine consultant) suggested we try the Templi red wine with this creation – the deep full bodied wine would hold its own against the distinct triple flavours of the pizza. Also with peppery notes, it would complement the fresh ruccola perfectly.
At this point I resolved only to eat the whole wheat pies. Not because I was trying to be healthy but because they were genuinely the superior offering! The Fromaggi which is pure indulgence is a four cheese pizza. I loved how the chef had selected cheeses that not only tasted good together but also made the pizza look like a gorgeous speckling of yellow gold. While the provelone provided the base, the fontina and gorgonzola offered the colour contrast and the parmesan added to the texture. The wine for this clearly had to be a white and we paired this cheesy wonder with the Le Vele.
My pick of the day from the vegetarian creations (actually this fought a very valiant battle with the fig and ruccola pizza and toppled the earlier one over!) was the Braccio Di Ferro. Now the fact that I’m a sucker for caramelized onions in no way pumped this to the top slot. What did slowly but surely push it there, was the combination of baby spinach sautéed in garlic and the feta. The sweetness of the onion was balanced by the salty feta and the creamy texture also played a good supporting role. Every time I took a bite – the salty feta would hit my tongue first and then as my mouth savored the creaminess, the caramelized onions would add to the surprise and just when the pairing became too decadent, the garlicky spinach held it all together without overwhelming the taste buds. Really.Great.Pizza! We were told that because all the elements on the pizza were double cooked (carmalizing the onions, sautéing the spinach and then baking the pie) it would go very well with the full bodied flavor of Templi.
The next pizza from Genoa – Pizza Genovase, was a revelation. One that I assume will hit the popularity button very soon. Smoked chicken with basil pesto and roasted pine nuts. And the fontina cheese gave it the right amount of pomp! The roasted pine nuts were a very interesting addition, providing some crunch to every bite. Even though this was paired with the Templi, I much preferred the white Le Vele with it. The fresh pesto and crunchy pine nuts somehow tasted much nicer with the fruitier white.
There are some people who like to see their pizzas loaded with all the goodies in the world. In the vegetarian space that would be the Contadina. This is apparently a product of the Napoli region and all I could think of was that it is a veritable vegetable market in there! Grilled Artichokes (yes!), roasted zucchini, roasted bell peppers and mushrooms topped with sun dried tomatoes and fresh herbs! Did it work? – Hell yes!
The only pizza that din’t have me doing cartwheels was the Bufalina. I was actually looking forward to the spicy lamb pizza but was sorely disappointed as the chunky undercooked lamb let down the pizza. Even fresh Buffalo mozzarella and tomatoes could not save this one. I quickly grabbed a slice of the Contadina and took a big bite to ensure that I ended on a good note!
I probably over strategized the last slice. How could Movenpick send us home without a taste of their famed ice cream? (This was a direct result of one of the table members mentioning Strawberry ice cream + a bathtub in the same sentence – but we’ll leave that story for another day!). The ice cream was sweet and tart and even had some berries doing the peek-a-boo. Delightfully satisfying.
I said it in the beginning and I will say it again – I did fall in love with the Pizzas! And at Rs.450/- for the vegetarian pizzas and Rs.550/- for the non-vegetarian ones – it will be futile to resist. When you go there and eat the Braccio Di Ferro – will you send one home to me? *Sigh…*
Movenpick Hotel & Spa Bangalore
115 Pipeline Road,
Near BEL Circle,
Bangalore – 560054.
Ph: +91 80 43001000
Cost: From Rs.450/- + taxes, Wines priced at Rs.250/- per glass + taxes (promotional pricing)
Parking: Valet Available