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Soho, what?

india Updated: May 14, 2010 13:37 IST
Rochelle Pinto

We had been warned in advance that Pali Village Café was all bark and no bite. With rustic interiors designed to look like a New Yorker’s version of a Tuscan villa, the restaurant inconspicuously adds to the traffic nightmare on Dr Ambedkar Road in Bandra.

It’s easy to miss if you’re not familiar with the area, and ironically, your best bet at a landmark is the familiar dive, Janata, right next door.

The owners have arranged for valet parking, but the line of cars makes you wish you could just haul ass and park the car yourself, instead of creating a roadblock while waiting for the valet.

This restaurant likes its patrons to reserve tables. That works fine in a Colaba eatery, but doesn’t suit Bandra’s candour. The split-level restaurant also features a non-AC dining space, where you can light up and slow-cook in the summer heat.

We make the obvious choice to sit in the A/C section, ask for the menu, and discover that the kitchen is high on asparagus. Every second dish, from the risottos to the pizzas, features the green stalk… including the soup of the day.

Go figure. The pizza (proscuitto and asparagus, Rs 130) is priced and served by the slice. It may seem expensive, but you won’t feel gypped when you see the serving. If you love your pizza on a thin crust, these are served on a base so thin, it could slit your throat.

As for the rest of the meal, a better Bellini (Rs 325) can be found at The Den, a juicier Pan Seared Rawas (Rs 325) is available at the Salt Water Café and the Grilled Chicken Supremes (Rs 225) are lesser cousins of the Satay Chicken at Escobar. There is little in this copycat menu that stands out and grabs you by your tastebuds, save for the Chocolate Ganache Torte with Coffee Cream that’s easy on the eyes and the palate.

When we leave, Pali Village Café is predictably occupied by expats, small-time actors and Bandra’s snob minority. A lady guest at the entrance carries a Salvatore Ferragamo bag. The family in front of her tumbles out of a Mercedes SUV. It may be the first step in the gentrification of this mad little corner. But until that happens, we’ll be hanging out at Janata.

WHAT: Pali Village Cafe
WHERE: Pali Naka, Dr Ambedkar Road, Bandra W
Call: 2605 0401

Italian pizzas, pastas and risottos
Smoking: No

What we like
The thin crust pizzas
The rustic interiors

What we don’t like
The copycat menu
The traffic bottleneck
The pretentious music