Indian pizza--only in SF?
- dixieday Jan 15, 2002 12:16 PM
So, a pal and I were digging into an excellent spicy Indian pizza from Zante the other night, and we got to wondering: is this culinary delight strictly a Bay Area thing? Do Indian restaurants in other cities put spinach and cauliflower and tandoori chicken onto pizza crust, or is this an only-in-SF deal? Was Zante the first to do it? A friend who frequents Star India out in the avenues claims they've just started making Indian pizza too, using a chewy naan-like crust. Thoughts? Conjectures? thanks!
to add to your question, I've seen a food booth at a couple of street fairs selling "indian burritos." It's basically your favorite Indian dishes wrapped up in Nan, burrito style, very tasty. When asked, I learned the booth is run by an Indian restaurant from the carmel/monterey area, I forget the name. I assumed this idea was also just a California thing, since I've never heard/seen it anywhere else?
Indeed! My wife and I happened upon this little bitty place while strolling through Mill Valley - the sign said Punjabi Burritos, and who could pass that up??
It is a counter and a few small tables, and as soon as we walked in, the fragrant air told us it would be worth a stop (even though we were planning on going to Sushi Ran for lunch an hour after that! which we did, and which was stellar as always).
We tried a "burrito" with chickpeas and mixed vegetables, with a nice mild curry type sauce and rice wrapped up in, well, i'm not sure if it was naan, but it was not a tortilla. Very yummy, very filling. We ate half and wrapped it back up so we could save room for Sushi Ran.
If you're in Mill Valley, stop by Avatar's Punjabi Burritos (15 Madrona St., 381-8293). I hear from the locals that they also have a good restaurant (more traditional Indian fare) in Sausalito on the north end of town.
This could be a frankie, although the only frankies I've ever had were in a thin wrapping rather than a naan. I understand they're popular at Breach Candy Beach in India. The only place I've had a frankie is at Bombay Cafe, my favorite Indian restaurant, in west Los Angeles; they have chicken, lamb and cauliflower frankies there. It's not the same as a dosa--the wrapping is, in fact, similar to a tortilla, and the fillings at Bombay Cafe are not standard dishes, but made specifically to fill frankies.
Zante was the first and my conjecture , without any basis in fact to back it up , was that he was inspired by Royal Kitchen just down the street back when Eloise and her husband owned it and they first started making a Chinese pizza ,chinese sausage , chicken , less dominate tomato sauce, no cheese. Zante started their Indian pizza after they had their Chinese Pizza and God! I really missed that pizza after they sold out.
There's another place that I saw reviewed in a newspaper (East Bay Express?) not long ago in North Oakland or Berkeley that was, I think, a pizza place (that or an Indian restaurant) and the reviewer said that the Indian pizza was the best thing there. I think it might have been Five Star Pizza in Oakland.
Also, I happened to eat at a California Pizza Kitchen over the weekend and noticed a tandoori chicken pizza on the menu (I didn't get it though). But maybe the phenomenon is spreading to the mainstream.
Also, Chaat Cafe in Berkeley (and Fremont) carries an Indian chicken sandwich wrap which consists of tandoori chicken, tomato, lettuce, and maybe a sauce served inside of naan. It was pretty good though I prefer their chaat items.
I've lived in the neighborhood for 20 years, and order Zante's Indian pizza frequently. Lately it seems they have changed the ingredients: namely, more cheese.
Re the original: My husband used to eat Indian pizza in the early '70s in Chicago. It was served at an excellent Indian restaurant on Devon Avenue named Family Corners. Because Chicago pizza is so far superior to that out here, he claims that the Indian pizza from Chicago is better than Zante's.
If you live out in the Avenues and crave Indian pizza but don't want to schlep all the way to the Mission for Zante's, there's a place at something like 46th and Judah (right by the 7-11) called Golden Gate Pizza that does a very good version of it, either veggie or with tandoori chicken.
The place also has a decent Indian menu (tandoori, palak, vindaloo, korma, curries, benghan bartha etc), pizza, pasta, fried chicken and ribs, but we've only ever eaten the Indian food and Indian pizza. Ambiance kinda sucks (lattice on walls and ceilings, with plastic grapes dangling therefrom) but they have free delivery so we usually opt for that. Prices are very reasonable and portions are sizeable.
Btw, California Pizza Kitchen has had tandoori chicken pizza on their menu for at least 8 years, it's ok but pales next to Zante or GGP.