“It was a choice between a shitty apartment in a nice part of town and a nice place in a relatively shitty part of town,” our dinner companion for the night explained as he popped a bombil fritter dunked in marinara sauce into his mouth. “Powai isn’t bad. It has trees, lakes and good roads. It’s just far away.” In his case, the distance is from Kemp’s Corner where he grew up, Colaba where he spent most of his twentysomething salary on beer, and Bandra, that the south Bombaybred, newbie Powai resident visited for a change of scene.
Powai presents a seemingly lucrative proposition for restaurateurs. The residents of the towering Hiranandani complexes belong to an uppermiddle class demographic, most of whom have made the shift to the area in the last few years. As the trolley-toting shoppers at DMart attest, they are in many cases, couples with school-going children – people who have spent most of their lives in other parts of the city but couldn’t afford apartments in the area they grew up because of the exorbitant real estate prices. So they’ve got the money to spend.
That being said, most of Powai’s restaurants (case in point, the new Elbo Room) are doing meagre business. It seems mummy and daddy are too pooped after work to even consider getting out and the kids (and their pocket money) haven’t grown enough to socialise outside the building compound. Café Mangii – Mia Cucina’s neighbour – is an exception to the rule. Perhaps they’re hoping to piggyback on the restaurant’s success.
This is Mia Cucina’s third outlet. The first in Bandra is a local favourite known for its quattro formaggio pizza and white cheesecake while the outlet in Versova has gotten mixed reviews for its inconsistency. Mia Cucina 3.0 trumps the other branches (and its neighbour) straight off the bat with its lovely decor. There’s a large suspended bar in the centre surrounded by ceiling-high arches with a distressed beige paint finish. The walls are filled with canvas prints of Mumbai landscapes, old alarm clocks, miniature wrought-iron bicycles, pretty olive oil bottles and sepiahued pictures from old school albums. The restaurant brims with warmth and the quirky wall – it reminded us of the Elijah Wood movie Everything’s Illuminated – looks like a personal collection of bric-a-brac gathered over the years rather than the result of a designer’s trip to Chor Bazaar.
The menu lists anti pasti, pizzas, pasta, grilled meats and desserts most of which they pull off with ease. Our Caesar salad was crisp, nicely dressed and topped generously with paper-thin Parmesan slices. Teamed with a chilled glass of pinot grigio, followed with their gorgeous white cheesecake, it would make a lovely light lunch. Mia Cucina has a small cocktail –the orange rosemary martini was strictly average – and a sizeable wine list with plenty of wines available by the glass. For our mains, we sampled the goat’s cheese and spinach risotto, the lamb stew and a pepperoni pizza. The lamb cooked with roast peppers and served on a polenta cake was worth another order but our risotto (as much as we cooed when we had the first few bites) was so heavy on the feta, that we finished only half of the generous helping. The kitchen, it seems, still needs to iron out some of its wrinkles – the pizza sauce was too sweet, and the crust chewy – but it’s still leagues ahead of most new restaurants. For now, Café Mangii does make a better pizza but Mia Cucina will give its neighbour a run for their money.
Orange rosemary martini
Risotto ai spinaci
Total (incl taxes)
By Neha Sumitran on July 20 2012 7.06am