Apple pie in Banaras? I say yes. And that is the best apple pie I have ever had. A perfect cookie like crust that crumbles as you take a bite. The flavors are subtle and yet temp you to take another bite and then some more. This happens when you are not even fond of desserts. Yes I do get sated with this dessert in just 3-4 bites but I see my folks digging into the pie with utmost concentration. My brother could not have it enough using a spoon and had it with his hands and then attacked on his wife's plate and my niece finished a whole slice of pie even when she had announced she can't eat any more. This pie makes cozy family memories. We had it at Pizzeria Vatika Cafe at Assi ghat, Varanasi last week and I am still stuck somewhere in the folds of that apple pie.
Wait, I will tell you more. This apple pie is egg less and Mr. Gopal Krishna Shukla, the owner of this al fresco pizzeria by the Ganga ghat, tell passionately about how he found the perfect recipe of this apple pie. He learned almost everything form the visiting foreigners he says and one of them demonstrated this perfect recipe of apple pie when he felt someone is insulting an apple pie in the land of kachoris. Yes it happened like that and guess who is smiling all the way with an subtly aromatic apple pie? The people of Banaras have the privilege of walking to the ghat and dig into it any day.
I got a whole pie packed for myself when we returned and it is still being reheated in the oven and relished by the folks. Here is how the crust becomes even more rich when reheated at home.
At the pizzeria, you can get the pie drizzled with chocolate sauce
Or topped with vanilla ice cream, with or without chocolate sauce.
This apple pie uses Himachal and Kashmir apples for our own country and you wont feel any lack of apple goodness. The apples are sliced perfectly and layered nicely inside the pie. The sugar is light so the pie doesn't become runny in the center. Those who like it sweeter can ask for an ice cream topping.
Mr Gopal Krishna Shukla is a passionate man behind this popular pizzeria. The few things I liked about his way of running this pizzeria is, using local fresh produce and not depending on imports. He has innovated a lot and makes his own mozzarella cheese. As local as it can get.
Pizzeria serves many variants of ravioli, gnochhi and other types of pasta as well, all vegetarian stuff as non veg is not allowed around the temples and ghats. You also get Indian thali and more Indian stuff there too. Good coffee, tea and more beverages to choose from. They have an extensive menu.
You see more foreigners than Indians in this pizzeria almost any time you go, the service is slow sometimes and you experience some bugs and flies here and there, you have to bear all this in an al fresco cafe by the ghat where all sorts of life activities go on incessantly.
And it is not just the apple pie that will make you visit pizzeria repeatedly, their pizzas are great too. Baked in a wood fired oven, thin crust pizzas are made using fresh ingredients and their 'pizzeria special pizza' is actually a vegetable and pineapple loaded treat.
Read more about their pizzas here, this time I tried the aubergine and spinach pizza as well and loved it to the core. The pizza margherita, the onion and mushroom pizza and the pizzeria special were all great.
We ordered a lasagna (vegetarian) and a cream sauce pasta as well and we all liked the pasta. Rich and creamy cheesy pasta which can not not be turned down. The only grudge in the pasta was the large chunks of carrots, I wish they were chopped finely to not give a sweet bite in this perfectly cheesy pasta. I would probably do away with carrots and even green capsicums for these flavors, mushrooms and cauliflowers worked really well. I am all for local fresh produce being used in such fare.
The lasagna was insipid for most of us. The layers of aubergine between pasta sheets were not as appealing as I would have liked. I also feel pizzeria needs to jazz up the plating and service a little bit.
I know Banaras is a city with a collective laid back attitude and everyone gets attuned to it sooner or later. I remember our initial days in the city when we relocated from Chandigarh. We hated the city first and then slowly became a part of it. More on spiritual level than otherwise I must add.
What I wanted to convey is, a good eatery reflects a lot about the food philosophy that is followed by the people behind it. I know Pizzeria makes great efforts to churn out great food to it's patrons, a little bit of attention to detailing will makes it shine brighter.