Tuesday, November 1, 2011

pizzeria of banaras....one of the best pizzas of the world..

And I am not the only one to say that. Yummiest of pizzas , pastas and unforgettable apple pie served in the most unpretentious way. Head towards pizzeria vatika (what a nice fusion name, meaning garden of pizza :)) at Asi ghat amidst greenery and chirpy birds. You are blessed if you choose the time of sunset.

If you are fascinated by the idea of an open air eatery overlooking a beautiful river this is for you. A peaceful place to sit and relax under lush green trees of Neem and Amda , dry leaves fallen on the floor and a few flies for company. Lots of house sparrows and parrots would make an evening musical for you.

Supernatural surroundings , great ambiance , touching the soul of a city known for it's wanderer spirit. Yes I was in Banaras for almost three hectic weeks. I am glad I could squeeze some time to visit some of my favorite places around town.

This is pizzeria of Banaras offering authentic pizzas and pasta dishes . Some freshly baked cookies , challahs, cinnamon rolls, apple pies and brownies are enticingly delicious and the secret is, fresh ingredients and a wood fired oven. Can it get any better?

Displayed in a very basic looking glass window these goodies might look very ordinary but they are fresh and delicious and quite cheap when compared to big city bakeries. This pizza oven was set up by a group of enthusiastic Italian students of music who used to sit on the ghats of ganges ( assi ghat to be precise) for their musical jams.The restaurant was run by a Gopal Krishna Shukla, serving mostly to the students as assi ghat is frequented by university students all the time. So these Italian students requested this restaurant owner to let them set up a wood fired oven for a weekend and bake some pizzas for a friend's birthday party . The pizza fever caught on since then.

The owner learnt it from them and started baking pizzas on his own too and soon the pizza substituted samosas and kachoris at Asi ghat .... much before the pizza hut and dominos reached this sleepy ancient city.

This wood fired oven looks as basic as a dhaba oven , flanked by platforms on both sides and a huge pizza spatula , the inner compartment of the oven looks like a small room.

Having chosen our table, I found a bunch of these fruits dangling on the branches as I looked up to find some birds.These fruits are used to make chutneys and pickles, called amda in Hindi and probably Carribean plums in English.

While we were entertaining our niece of 2 years by making boats and rockets with pink tissue papers the pizzas arrived. We had ordered a Margarita, a Mushroom and an Onion and mushroom pizza for 4 people . These 9" thin crust pizzas were enough for 4 adults with a kid nibbling small bits too .

Well balance flavors of the toppings and a right blend of herbs . I needed a sprinkling of red chilly flakes over it but for all the others it was great as it is.

No overwhelming amount of cheese dripping and making my hands messy and tongue scalded was my point of a big plus. You can always order for extra cheese or toppings if you like it that way but for a thin crusty base with smokiness of a wood fired oven, you wouldn't like to spoil it with overwhelming cheesy flavors.

But if no amount of cheese is too much for you, go ahead and order for an extra cheese pizza. I wanted to try the aubergine pizza there but as no one else was interested in aubergine, and no way i could have finished one whole pizza by myself, so went by other's choices.

This onion and mushroom was a favorite of majority while i loved the margarita most . Unspoiled taste of a great pizza . I am actually drooling talking about it now and i know i will end up making one tomorrow or day after. Pizza dinners are very common during winters at my place (if it's not a huge bowl of soup with a home baked bread) as the oven is comforting in my tiny kitchen and the bread aroma comforts more than anything else in the world.Winters are loved for more than one reasons :)

We wanted to have a slice of apple pie too, which is also the much talked about thing there but we didn't have any scope for solids so we just had huge mugs of espresso watching the flowing Ganges beyond those palm fronds...

It's a nice place to sit if you are not bothered by a few flies here and there.
It's anyways hard to find an open air space around the lanes of any Indian city without the omnipresent houseflies , wherever there is food being served or handled i mean.

If you think beyond that, this is the place for a quite evening with friends or alone.
Many foreigners sitting alone with a book or a kulhad of chai around this place is a testimony to what i say. There are several nice book shops around this place too...a place with a good promise.


  1. Your blog has become my favourite recipe book. Do you have whole wheat pizza base recipe on your blog?

  2. Thanks Again Joylife...
    I make pizza with home made whole wheat base all the time and have taken numerous pictures too. Another detailed post on home made healthy pizza promised :)

  3. Love this place! Always go there when in Varanasi.

  4. i'm definitely going to visit this place when i visit banaras. i hope they have thick crust and i will have to order for extra cheese :-)

  5. Thanks jenni..
    I am so glad i found a non resident of Banaras who is in love with this place :)
    Have you tried desi food choices available in Banaras?

  6. Hi Sangeeta, have not been to Varanasi too many times...maybe three or four? But I go here everytime! I feel so bad to be eating pizza of all things when in Varanasi but it soooo good. Plus the views are lovely.

    All other meals I eat there are mostly street food as it is so good and cheap. Kachori sabzi, litti-chokha etc.

    Btw do you live in Varanasi? If so, I am close by in Allahabad. If you ever visit Allahabad, I would be happy to take you out for kachori sabzi!

  7. Jenni, i live in Delhi but my parents and in laws live in Banaras so i keep visiting the place quite often. And guess what ..this time i made litti chokha twice for the extended family ...we all love it so much.

    I have had some allahabab chat ...a joint called Shiv ki chaat near chungi (tularam bagh) and that is awesome. Let's hope we meet some day in any of the three cities or elsewhere :)
    who knows?

  8. Would love that. Oh, and I just found out that you also own the blog healthfood desivideshi which I like a lot! Never knew it was the same person!

  9. I am all smiles Jenni....so you found out the duality in my personality :)

  10. I am nto a fan of pizza but these ones look yummy :)


  11. These pizza's look too good. And totally loved the fusion name of this place :)

  12. Wow can imagine how u must have felt,..)

  13. lovely place...fantastic pizzas and apple pie.
    I am from Varanasi and have been going to this place from past 10-12 years...I love this place.
    Must visit if you go to Varanasi.
    They have there website: http://www.pizzeriavaatika.in/