By Nikita Saxena
Nestled cosily in a warm corner of N Block, Connaught Place, Sbarro is set to delight all kinds of pizza lovers alike with its varied, sumptuous menu of pizzas, other Italian dishes and desserts. I recently had the opportunity to visit its most recent outlet in the National Capital Region of Delhi, and was warmly given a tour of the place by Jayant, Sbarro’s manager of marketing of the North and East regions of the country. Sbarro currently has one more outlet in HUDA City Centre, Gurgaon, which opened on the 4th of October this same year.
Sbarro dates back to as far as 1956, beginning as the brainchild of Italian immigrants Genarro and Carmela Sbarro, who journeyed from Naples, Italy to New York, U.S.A. The two established their first Italian restaurant, “Salumeria”, in the locale of Brooklyn. Now, Sbarro, currently headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the leading international pizza quick serving restaurants, with a thousand outlets worldwide in more than thirty-four countries. In India, Sbarro is franchised by Jyoti International Foods Private Limited, which is headed by Mr. Akhil Puri.
I soon sat down with Rahul Gladwin Massey, the head chef, who wasted no time in giving me the veritable walkthrough through the elaborate menu, and little unknown interesting facts that are otherwise unknown to most. The menu, which like in all other Sbarro branches all over the world, follows 60% of the original menu with a few modifications made in order to suit the Indian palate. Such modifications include inclusion of ethnic flavours, such as tandoori and tikka, and the replacement of beef and pork by chicken in most pizza variants, the exception being pepperoni pizza. Rahul also told me that Sbarro believes that an excellent pizza must always be served fresh and piping hot, and then explained all the rigorous rules they followed to maintain this standard.
Fresh dough is made every day in the store, adhering to the strict guidelines of shelf life, as well as fresh sauce, which is manufactured from imported tomatoes. A major distinguishing feature that sets Sbarro apart is their use of 100% dairy cheese, which leads their products to have a lesser shelf life, but more flavour, as opposed to other pizza chains that use 40% dairy cheese with a mix of other chemical and cooking substitutes. The menu at this outlet has a huge range of pizza slices, with nine New York style pizzas (thin-crusted, but sturdy enough to hold its toppings; a novel way to eat it is by folding it from the middle) that Sbarro is known to specialize in, four pan pizzas (thicker crusts with more bread to appeal to the Indian user), two Chicago deep dish pizzas, eight pastas (which use both spaghetti and penne), three amazing desserts and a plethora of hot and cold beverages to deliciously wrap it up.
The white pizza is an absolute must-have for the cheese lover, with ricotta and mozzarella cheese lavishly spread over a thin crust, and no tomato sauce base, making it a novel one-of-a-kind eating experience. As someone who does not have a natural affinity towards pineapple, the ham and pineapple pizza completely won me over with its perfect blend of minutely diced pineapple and ham pieces wrapped in oodles of melting cheese. A similarly themed offering to watch out for is the cheese pizza, which includes Sbarro’s signature tomato sauce blend.
The mushroom olive pizza is yet another specialty one can find only at Sbarro, with cheesy slices decked heavily only with the aforementioned toppings, for the more exotic and variant pizza eater. According to Rahul, the pepperoni pizza has been a hit with the other NCR outlet as well. Other thin crust pizzas (starting from Rs. 49 onwards a slice) include chicken tikka, which has a classic Mughlai twist to it, supreme, spicy paneer, and vegetable supreme.
The four pan pizzas include veggie delight, paneer supreme, super supreme, and sausage jalapeno. But what really will make you have a wholesome, stuffed-to-the-brim meal, is the new variety of stuffed pizzas Sbarro has introduced here (priced at Rs. 179 a slice, and Rs.1199 a whole pan), which includes vegetable extravaganza, paneer makhani, sausage & pepperoni, and garden style. I had the chicken makhani stuffed pizza, and needless to say, I was blown away by the seamless blend of popular Indian curry flavours and Italian herbs and spices.
Next came the breads, which are bound to fill you right up and leave you rubbing your belly in satisfaction. The garlic bread (priced at Rs. 59) was freshly baked with a light garnishing of finely chopped garlic pieces on the top. Apart from this, I had the sausage & cheese stromboli (priced at Rs. 149), which are pieces of bread stuffed liberally with cheese and in this case, a non-vegetarian filling of chicken sausage pieces. This was followed by a quick tasting of the wide array of Sbarro’s pastas (priced at Rs. 159, and Rs. 179) which are traditionally served with a piece of garlic bread. The saucy sausage pasta was a brilliant gastronomic experience, with light, natural tomato flavours that will make your taste buds reach cloud nine with its sausage pieces of chicken ham dipped in tangy red spaghetti. I also had the arrabiata pasta, which in a surprising but flavourful take, had pieces of corn within the whole dish. Among the white sauce types of pastas, the alfredo parmesan was a wonderful pick, with liberal amounts of dairy cheese and mushrooms that will knock one right off their seats.
Among the beverages, I tasted both the orange and cucumber lemonades (both priced at Rs. 50), each with a refreshing and unique flavour of its own, with the former having a tangy, tantalizing, and sweet taste to it, and the latter having an offbeat, relaxed taste, which would prove to be a hit in the harsh Delhi summer months. The dessert menu was otherworldly, with three dishes to satisfy your sweet tooth. The New York cheesecake was firm, filling, and made with Philadelphia cream cheese. The frosted carrot cake was something to be truly relished, consisting of a soft pastry with a hint of cinnamon and a sizeable frosting of cream cheese. The fudge nut brownies were served hot, and with a dash of hot chocolate sauce, and melted right in the mouth.
Apart from the food, the other best parts of eating at Sbarro were its ambience and its open air kitchen in full view of every customer. With a minimalist theme in black, red, green, and white colours, Sbarro has a setting that will not bear down on you, but only serve to give you the Italian rustic feeling when you sit down to eat. Another bonus point to this outlet was its fire safety standardizations, with many extinguishers and pipelines located at different strategic points in the restaurant area, which is exceptional to find in a restaurant.
Sbarro plans to expand to home delivery soon, as it is expecting a huge turnout in its Connaught Place outlet, as it is in a prime location in the heart of the city. However, I highly recommend everyone to visit Sbarro soon, and have an unforgettable time eating out your favourite Italian dishes.