New pizza avatar with Indian touch

Pop singer Daler Mehendi at the inauguration of a food plaza in South Delhi on Sunday. Photo: Sandeep Saxena  

A SLICE of Italy is what they promised before. And nearly two years after they turned a little more Italian than most pizza joints in the Capital, San Marzano has decided to drop the Italian name and come back as the Capital knows it - Pizza Express.

Set for a re-launch in October, the new Pizza Express experience will come with an Indian touch, with the palate promising more not just in terms of Italian delicacies but also some promising snacks for the more "desi'' at heart.

Launched nearly six years ago in India as Pizza Pizza Express, the changeover in 2001 to San Marzano, a new outlet of the chain launched simultaneously across the globe, did not really hit home, and hence the going back to the original name.

``Most people continued to remember us as Pizza Express and somehow always thought that San Marzano was different, even though we made sure that Pizza Express was also mentioned. Also there was general impression that the place was very Italian, formal and expensive. We want to change that image,'' says Lali Singhania, the woman behind the chain's Delhi outlet.

The re-launch will see the joint make a comeback, with a lot of additions but basically following the concept followed by the original Pizza Express of London since 1967. As far as the menu is concerned, promised are some new pasta, finger food as well as a lot of new mocktails and cocktails.

``Although authentic Italian food will continue to be the thrust, we have decided to add an Indian touch. Since most people in Delhi do like to have a bit of the familiar touch, this will come through in the achari pizza and tandoori one. But we will retain our signature products like Florentina and introduce the much liked Piadina sandwiches,'' informs Singhania.

But its not just the menu card that will have change written on it when food aficionados go visiting it from October. A more relaxed atmosphere is in, with the chain deciding to go in for the lounge look.

``The lounge concept is very popular all over the world and is catching up in India too. The idea is to let people come and eat, have a drink and relax. We will be bringing in more couches and comfort fittings to complete the experience,'' she says.

With the chain's Connaught Place outlet being closed down, the owners are hoping to widen their presence by opening new outlets in Gurgaon and Noida. 'The expansion plans are very much on and will take place in the following months,'' says Singhania. As of now it is time to wait for the city's date for a bite with the makers of the thinnest authentic Italian pizzas in town.

By Lakshmi Balakrishnan