Restaurant Review: Pizza ranks high among the most popular comfort foods. The soft chewiness of the base, the tartness of the sauce, the unmatched satisfaction of stringy cheese… even before the toppings come into play, pizza looks like it can make us forget our worries with its deliciousness. Restaurants around the world are innovating to give their own twist to this Italian delight. Indian companies are not shying away from the trend. Rather, they wholeheartedly embrace the opportunity to serve a different treat to their pizza-loving patrons. We recently tasted such an offering in Mumbai and were left wanting more.
Level 1 Pizza is a dedicated location above Joshi House in Bandra that specializes in a unique pizza and wine experience. While Joshi House (backed by restaurateur Suren Joshi) offers Indian and Italian delicacies, Level 1 has a separate food menu. It offers 12 gourmet pizzas with a sourdough base (equal options for vegetarians and non-vegetarians). These are handmade and baked in the wood-fired oven, which are visible when you get to the first floor. What elevates the experience is the chance to pair your pizzas with some incredible wines from around the world. Level 1 has the same extensive wine list as Joshi House and you should take full advantage of it.
During our meal we also tasted theirs Sangria, which were light and refreshing accompaniments to all of our pizza choices. There are also some fascinating wine-based cocktails on the menu. We suggest asking the staff for expert recommendations depending on the pizza you’re going for. We tried and loved Cilantro Martini (we were driven by curiosity) – although it didn’t pair well with our chosen toppings. Wondering which pizzas we recommend here? Find out below.
We decided to start with a classic – and a personal favorite – Margherita. There must be no exotic decorations or toppings to hide behind. Our pizza arrived with large basil leaves and a thick crust that we couldn’t wait to dig into. It didn’t look quite the picture, but that’s what made us more curious. The aroma told us it was something that required higher consideration. We separated our individual slices and took a bite. Our verdict? On level 1 pizza, pomodoro sauce, basil and mozzarella magic. Their Margherita is easily one of the best we’ve had in recent times. The sauce was tangy, but not harshly sour or sweet. It allowed the flavors of the basil and mozzarella to shine through in harmony.
Next on our radar was a non-vegetarian delicacy: Spicy Chicken Diavola. Tender pieces of grilled chicken, red pepper and truffle picante salsa adorned this delight. The heat was balanced with stringy mozzarella. We enjoyed the peppery flavor and the generous amount of chicken (which also never came across as overloaded). The delicate touches of truffle elevated the dish from a good grilled chicken pizza to a delicious gourmet treat.
Pineapple on pizza has its supporters and detractors. If you’re in the former camp, you won’t want to miss Level 1 BBQ chicken and pineapple Pizza. The juiciness and smokiness of the charred pineapple was an instant hit. The jalapeno and mango habanero mayo did a great job of balancing the sweetness of the fruit as well as the BBQ sauce.
The toppings were incredibly well balanced, but it was the sourdough base that made this meal stand out. I come from a family of bread lovers and understand the simple pleasure of chewing on well-made bread. Behind this facade is of course hard work and many years of experience. The delicious sourdough pizza base on Level 1 is truly a testament to Chef Richard D’Souza’s culinary talents. We can’t wait to return and enjoy it again.
Where: 602, Ambedkar Road, Pali Naka, Pali Hill, Bandra West, Mumbai