Think of a beautiful thin crust flatbread, slathered with freshly prepared tomato sauce, topped with your favourite vegetables or meats along with some aromatic herbs. Isn’t it hard or for that matter, impossible, to resist a beautifully prepared pizza?
It certainly is for me!
Thanks to globalisation, this star of a dish, that is an entire meal in itself, has taken the world by a storm, with each country, embracing it by fusing it with local ingredients to cater to the local palate or to bring something new to the table. Be it the deep fried pizza from Scotland or deep dish pizza from Chicago or zataar topped flatbread from Lebanon, pizza is a crowd pleaser like no other.
Starting off as an inexpensive dish that was relished by low-income workers to satiate hunger, pizza has come a long way, so much so that UNESCO has added the art of Neapolitan pizza maker, or “pizzaiolo”, to its list of “intangible cultural heritage of humanity”. A part of Italy’s cultural and gastronomic tradition, the art of preparing and flipping the dough, topping it and baking it in a wood-fired oven, got recognised and was celebrated in Italy with pizzaiolos distributing their offerings to the public.
How I wish to have been Italy at that time, but being right here in Delhi turned out to be just as delicious, thanks to the Pizza Tour, organised by Chef Ritu Dalmia’s restaurant chain, Diva. With a chef that needs no introduction in the world of Italian food and a restaurant chain that honours the beautiful Italian cuisine, I knew I was in for a treat with Pizza hopping, from one Diva to another.
Though it wouldn’t be feasible to elaborate on each and every pizza that I demolished, 12 to be precise, I’d touch base with my favourites from the lot, which of course, would come across as must-haves!
Stop 1: Cafe Diva, Sangam Courtyard | Initiation
Pizza without cheese? Farce? Not really.
A variation of the original Neapolitan pizza, marinara, also known as sailor’s pizza is a cheese-less pizza that consists of a thin crust base topped with plain marinara i.e. tomato sauce along with garlic, oregano and olive oil. In spite of being a true cheese lover, the pizza was interesting, unusual, healthy and of course, delicious. Though being a non-vegetarian, as well, I’d bet my money on sabine pizza. Topped with onions, jalapenos, chilli flakes and tiny spicy salami roundels, the pizza was a treat, not only to the palate but to the eyes as well.
Stop 2: PDA, Cafe Diva, N Block, GK 1 | Continuation
Named after the Queen of Naples, Margherita, the pizza was created to resemble the colours of the Italian flag: red (tomato), white (mozzarella) and green (basil) by chef Raffaele Esposito. Simplicity at its best, Margherita pizza, if done well, can melt the coldest of hearts for sure. My hands-on experience of making an authentic Margherita pizza did pay off in the form of an average looking but amazing tasting pizza(see picture). Though the best pizza crown at this outlet would go to the Parma Ham pizza. Match made in heaven, thin crust pizza topped with Parma ham i.e. prosciutto along with rocket leaves for pepperiness and parmesan for depth of flavour, is something that I’d always look forward to.
Stop 3: Diva: The Italian Restaurant, GK 2 | Conclusion
The pizza sojourn concluded with the best of pizzas, all of which were giving stiff competition to one another. However, the two of my utmost favourites would be the La Bufala and Cep. Topped with cherry tomatoes, olives, oregano, pesto and buffalo milk mozzarella, La Buffala was a favourite at the table. The undisputed winner amongst all the others would be the unpretentious Cep pizza. Slathered with bechamel sauce, as opposed to tomato sauce, and topped with cheddar, mozzarella, cep mushrooms and truffle oil, the pizza was a powerhouse of flavours and premium ingredients, that paved the way for the best pizza of the evening! Needless to say, a must have!