Small on size but big on taste, Crave is a winner from the get-go
What’s in a name, you might ask.
A lot, really.
For instance, take the curious case of the unfortunately named Napoleon Einstein, a budding cricketer doomed to failure simply because he cannot live up to the greatness of his dual namesakes. Then there’s the Boob family somewhere in India, resigned to living their life just tit-illatingly short of greatness.
The list goes on and on. so when you name your place ‘Crave’, it better live up to it. Sitting here and penning this now, I can safely say that the name is well chosen. I still yearn for one more hit of that pizza, like a junkie facing withdrawal symptoms.
We happened to pop into this outlet of the eatery just a day after it first opened, and the tables the color of marigold with black and white patterns criss-crossing on the tiles gives a very warm, welcoming feeling even though the place only boasts of 4 tables. Clearly, things are geared more towards delivery, as you would imagine with a place this small.
With carbs the mainstay at Crave, flavour never takes a backseat even if size does, thanks to Bandra’s stratospheric rentals that put the kibosh on all, but the deepest of pockets. Thankfully, it’s all about the dishes here, made with a great big heart in an itsy bitsy kitchen. Specialising in stone-baked, New York-style thin-crust pizzas, Crave was always going to take up the baton of Di Napoli after it downed shutters. And in Crave, its spirit lives on. Both pizzas I had sported firm bases with the only sign of tapering towards the centre, where the toppings, cheese and tomato sauce had set up camp. The crust was charred brown in spots perfectly, like a naan, and were just thin enough to be crisp without being the wafer thin pizza the city holds so very dear to its heart.
We called for two pizzas, the Mex and the City ( with Southwest Chipotle Chicken, Jalapeno and Onion) and the Rush Hour (Chicken Cheese Sausage, Chicken Salami, Onion and Scamorza Cheese) and I have to admit it was the fiery earthiness of the former that won the day for me. The zingy heat and peppery punch delivered by the Southwest Chipotle Chicken and Jalapeno combination left us licking our fingers long after the cheese and sauce was licked clean off it, and while the smokiness of the Scamorza in the Rush Hour appealed to us greatly, there was simply no way it would top the Mex and The City.
A special mention must be made for the fresh, house-made Pomodoro tomato sauce that was so, so good and fresh, with it oozing out of each bite as if to remind us that it was the star behind the show, hiding somewhere within the folds of all that meat and cheese. It bodes well for Crave that there seems to be no skimping on the flavours, quality and freshness that made Di Napoli so famed and missed among pizza lovers far and wide.
Not sated, we called for The Roast (Shredded Chicken, Gravy, Caramelised Onions, Lettuce and White Cheddar), an option we plumped for after I sadly realized no one at the table would have a lamb and bacon burger. Woe is me. Maybe I need to get some new friends, and a new wife while I’m at it.
Juicy and moist, this was a burger that will please those that want to play it safe. The bun was soft and pillowy even, not crumbling or cracking under insistent pressure, much like that kid in Drishyam refused to break until she was slapped silly.
While the hint of protein goodness and sweet condiments were hugely satisfying, my mind constantly wandered to just how good that bacon would be given the magic wrought with chicken, a protein that serves as my last default when all else fails.
If nothing else, get the Fries over here with the Chive and Cheese Dip. As crisp as a freshly starched white shirt, these fries are just as I like them, crunchy and crackling with all the carby goodness of taters. We tried the Cheese and Chive dip & the Mango Jalapeno dip, but the latter disappointed since it didn’t pack enough heat by way of jalapeño at all. The slightly sweet creaminess of mango was there, but this dip was meant to play good guy, bad guy. Not good guy, invisible man. The Cheese and Chive is the one you want since it has the mild pungency of chives paired with the airy mildness of the cheese, which complements each other perfectly.
We rounded things off with desserts (complementary since it was their opening weekend) and between the three of us, we opted for the Tiramisu, the Hazelnut Chocolate and the Blueberry Cheesecake shots. The Hazelnut Chocolate was like that kid you think is going to spank everyone at the school annual day races only to get decimated. It was too thick and lacking hazelnut flavour of any kind, making eating it a laborious process and not the labour of love it should have been. The Tiramisu was a touch too sweet and could do with some more bitterness by way of coffee powder, but that’s just me.
The Blueberry Cheesecake, on the other hand, was perfect. Boasting a bubble of Blueberry atop, slicing through it revealed layers of cream cheese and crumbly biscuit that all together formed a lovely end to the meal. The blueberry compote was perfectly sour without even overstepping the line into tartness and I had to fight off the wicked vixens at my table to ensure I got my grubby paws on this.
It was endearing to see the staff come pouring out of the kitchen to ask us how our meal was, for they seemed like nervous children hoping not to be chastised on open day. They need not have worried. Despite some ticks in the misses column, Crave is a resoundingly easy recommendation that, like its name would suggest, will have my mind turning to it at odd hours and wondering when we’ll spoon next.
Soon, Crave. Very spoon. I mean soon. Dough! I mean, d’oh!