Now if you think this is a Bollywood blockbuster, you could be right…but just with a small difference. This Bollywood starrer is actually based in Mumbai, an Italian restaurant…and has now opened at Panjim...the venue Café Mangii. Now if you want to know how the ‘bollywood’ hunks and babes dine out…Proprietor Prashant Chaudhri has created just the place for you.
What does Mangii mean? A slight twist to the spelling and in Hindi it would mean ‘asking’, and in Italian it means ‘mango.’ Ah yes! Right from the ‘raw to ripe’ mango colored walls to the casual and trendy uniforms of the waiters....it is a signature of taste.
‘Café Mangii’s the ‘haunt’ of the celebrities in Mumbai,’ explains Manager Roston Colaco, ‘and after extensive research we have short listed 90% of the ‘favorites’ listed on that menu and brought it here for the ‘discerning’ gourmet at a very competitive and affordable price.’
Discerning? Affordable?….I propped myself on the high chair in the ‘bar zone’ and looked at the ‘mango’ coloured menu’s offered to me. Now it seemed there was one for every mood…the drinks (where one could be seated here at the ‘lounging’ and ‘hep’ area) nibbling at bruschetta of Brie or perhaps a prawn tempura as you wait for a buddy to join you.
Talking about tit bits? The crisp golden coating of that prawn tempura as you dip into the chef’s special butter garlic sauce…Uummm! The temptation to roll that tongue over the upper lip the way the starlets do is ‘unconscious and provocative.
But yours truly did just that and got a surprised look from hubby wondering what his (well in his opinion) ‘over the hill’ wife was trying to do. But ignore him I did, and took a ‘crunchy’ bite of the Bruschetta as the topping of Rome tomatoes, sweet basil and camembert cheese drizzled with Balsamic vinegar…well I say drizzled because this preparation actually sizzled. I closed my eyes…’well this preparation can be had as an Insalate too,’ This words were that of the young chef Krishna Khetle who is the ‘Force’ behind the culinary preparations. I look at him reverently…the taste still lingering in my mouth, ‘we use imported items specially brought in from Mumbai ’ he smiles, ‘and it guarantees the authenticity.’
Authenticity….it is so important to understand that in Rome one should do what the Romans do. Fast food and old favorites like pizzas and pastas…have taken away the sheen of the real flavors. ‘oh , but we do have a separate menu for pizzas...the thin crust variety, and it is prepared in the oven right in front of you.’ We look at the restaurant section….the chef was busy putting in the pizza for the diners. We decided to have a pepperoni pizza. The oven fired with mango and rubber firewood seems to give the thin-crust pizza its own signature taste and believe me there is a stupendous number of preparations listed on a separate menu…exclusive for pizzas only.
But we were here to check out what made the Bollywood upper crust patronize the place. Was sure it was not only for pizzas…although that concept adds some ‘piaazzz’ to the place. So it was back to Menu No 3…..Zuppa ..…Inslalta…Antipasta….Primi and Secondi….Dolci… Do not worry, the explanations are in English too…was just trying out my Italian.
‘What Zuppa do you recommend?’ I ask the chef. Simply translated ‘what soup’? ‘Try our Lobster Bisque’, chef recommends. Well always check out the chefs recommendation…he is bound to be right and he was. That thick seafood flavored soup…deep red in color with miniature pieces of lobster within…..’mamma mia’. Spoon after spoon of that ‘superb’ recipe was literally shoveled into the mouth without a break. ‘wow!’ I breathe at last, ‘what is in it?’ ‘Flambéed cognac,’ was the chef’s reply. What more can one ask for?
But there was more to come…from the Antipasta, the chicken liver pate, calamari fritto (batter fried sqid) …sure to be the Goan’s delight...and then the Gnocchi patata. One dish to die for. If tell you that it is mashed potato with spinach and parmesan I would not be doing justice to the taste. The creamy spinach, the cheesy taste that wrapped itself around the chef’s labor of preparation (the potato)…you will scream in ecstasy…..to die for. So too is the Gnocchi pesto made with cous cous.
Kuch..Kuch hota hai…well this was my comment bollywood shstyle after the Penne alla Romano reached the table. Now this was the anti-pasta stage. The creamy white wine sauce….it coated the pasta to perfection...rolling smoothly on the palate imparting flavors unheard of…a must try especially when the waiter sprinkles freshly ground pepper from the peppermill. And the Rissotto with champagne? Even Joe who does not care for this preparation took an extra helping. Maybe it was the champagne that added zest…but for me the chef had cooked it to perfection.
Oh yes there are many more preparations I could vouch for….but I have to come to the Dolci…the desserts. Italians always knew how to plan a ‘grand finale’….the Tiramisu…words cannot define it. And the Crème Brulee….Before I could spoon in more than two mouthfuls I realized that Joe had done the honors….finished the dessert…and here is a man who confesses that he does not have a sweet tooth.
‘No more’ I beg with folded hands to Roston. ‘we have the folded pizzas too,’ he tempts smiling. Well as much as my heart would like to try out….there are limitations of space. So as Roston recommends it’s better to go with a group for maximum fulfillment … ‘Dil Mangii more’
Address: 1st Floor, Madhav Ashram, Near Azad Maidan, MG Road, Panjim
Telephone no: 0832 2230773
Recommendations: As stated above. Too many to mention.