Mangia Fuori (Juhu, Mumbai)

I was impressed by the opening times of Mangia Fuori, with the restaurant closing at 1.30am (is it bar or a restaurant I hear you whisper), and decided to venture into the quiet back streets of Juhu to this Italian restaurant one evening.

The soft lighting, warm terracotta interior and brushed wooden ceiling beams do certainly make for a reassuringly calming and Mediterranean atmosphere. However that ambience certainly gets lots admist a young (if rather friendly) DJ blasting out modern electronic dance music. Such music couldn’t be more at odds with the familial chord the decor strikes. Certain parts of the restaurant – the gents, the entrance for instance – could also do with some TLC

Since I was waiting for a dining companion to arrive (who in the end unfortunately couldn’t make it) I proceeded to the bar. The Virgin Mojito was a disappointment in both aesthetics and taste. I deem it highly unnecessary to garnish the cocktail with large, unsprigged pieces of mint such that is reassembles the plant from which it came. I also deem it rather uncustomary to use whole ice cubes in place of crushed ice in such a drink.

My pizza arrived after a wholly avoidable confusion. I had made it very clear to the Maitre D’ of sorts that I wanted to order a pizza with just tomatoes and basil. In fairness after noticing the error, the waiter did efficiently rectify this, although he did go the extra mile to make it known how bizarre my pizza “without cheese” was (In actual fact, a simple ‘Marinara pizza’ of just tomatoes, basil and olive oil is very common in many parts of Italy, particularly the south).

The pizzas are prepared in a wood-fired oven, which is a welcome sight in any Italian restaurant. The resultant pizza was decent even by the standards of a guilty pizza aficionado like myself. Owing to what I imagine is a fairly low hydration dough, the crust was crisp to the centre and had some charring as you would expect from any wood-fired oven. The sauce was also impressive, made with fresh tomatoes and a subtle hint of garlic.

Sadly the second dish I tried, the Gnocchi in spinach cream sauce, was sub-par. The presentation with an enormous lettuce leaf placed on one side of the plate was a crass attempt at visual attraction. The sauce was overpowered by too much butter and a strong cheese, the variety of which I am unable to name. The minute grating of parmesan on top of the dish was insultingly frugal.
The desert – Chocolate Mousse – was presented like two scoops of ice cream and after the pizza confusion, I had to check whether they had brought me the right dish! The mousse itself was heavy but passable and the presentation whilst a little passe was better than the preceding course of gnocchi.

The “maitre D” and even the DJ did make a personal attempt to engage in conversation which showed warmth and a genuine concern for guests. However, restaurateurs in the city must learn that not matter how amicable they may be, critics ultimately make judgements on the quality of the food, service and ambience, which on the first 2 accounts still require a lot more attention to detail at Mangia Fuori.

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