No matter how widespread the international pizza outlets get, when you've got to go desi, you've got to go desi. For there are times when you want red mirchis not jalapenos, when mozzarella doesn't hold a match to good ol' Vijaya Processed Cheese, and, of course, when you're stone broke. The desi pizza comes to the rescue.
Of all the food we've Indianised, including pasta with jeera and burgers with cabbage, this is our biggest success. But even here there are formulae that work and, more commonly, those that don't. Most every bakery will sell you pizza, but most of the times these are just dry, lifeless imitations of the real deal, and the topping is guaranteed to fall off before you can get it in your mouth. So what is it that seperates the winners from the also-ran? Here's the secret - it's all in the sauce.
All the really successful pizza-makers, from Universal Bakery
to King & Cardinal
, will tell you that once you perfect the sauce, people will love anything you bake. Another top-league player who knows what it takes is Pizza Den.
You can spot this little joint by driving along the Karkhana main road after 7pm. You might not see the board, but you'll know you're there when you spot a huge crowd of people and vehicles waiting impatiently near a big iron table, behind which you'll see a kitchen and several little boys running to and fro from the ovens to the cars. Order an Italian, dust off some space on the steps nearby, and settle down for some happy chomping.
There's a variety of pizzas available here, but for the best try the Italian, topped with the usual capsicum-tomato-cheese and sprinkled with oregano. Doesn't sound all that different, does it? Wait till you've tasted it. The guys here have a way with pizzas - the crust is thin, the topping is spicy and crisp, and best of all, they're generous with the cheese. One pizza is usually adequate for two people, and will cost you around Rs. 50.
You can also try the Mexican, the Veg Cheese (popular) or the Plain Cheese pizzas. Ironically, the Desi Masala Pizza is quite bad, and unless you like garam masala on your slice, keep away. Other favorites include the Mushroom Veggie, the Spicy Paneer and the Babycorn Supreme. There's also the Jain Pizza, without onion and garlic.
Pizza Den also serves Softy ice-cream, which again isn't very good. But there is a very good fresh fruit-juice stall just beside the Den, which makes excellent chickoo juice for the reasonable price of Rs. 20.
Immensely popular with residents of the Marredpally area, Pizza Den is also a huge hit with students, paying-guests and other people on shoe-string budgets. Goes to prove - when you have a great pizza, you don't need 'combo deals', freebies or dancing waiters to do the selling for you.