August Issue 2012

By | Food | Life Style | Published 12 years ago

Multiplexes have finally become the rage in the larger cities of Pakistan, which is a great relief, considering that in the last decade or so cinema houses have been in the news for all the wrong reasons (read demolition). Not only are the ‘plexes providing much-needed healthy entertainment to the public, but a welcome by product of their existence are the eateries and fast-food restaurants that are springing up around them to facilitate cinema-goers. One case in point is the newly established New York’s Manhattan Pizzeria located at Universe Cineplex, Karachi.

Spread over three floors, the restaurant’s open-air roof-top, which boasts the winning combination of a great view and, given the right weather, the cool, summer sea breeze that Karachi is famous for, makes for a good aesthetic and pleasant atmosphere. The downside? One has to be fit enough to tackle the stairs, which are by no means few, as there is no elevator facility available. The ground floor section meanwhile, is run-of-the-mill, with a no-frills décor, but comfortable enough with fabric-covered cushioned seats, wooden tables, and lots of pictures of Manhattan.

With no connection to the original Manhattan Pizzeria in New York — from which presumably the name has been borrowed — one finds that the name is the only commonality the restaurant has with its source of inspiration. For, if looking to eat the large New York style thin-crust pizzas here, one is in for a disappointment. With the thin crust pizza only available in an extra large size (to serve a family of four) the pizzas on offer are deep pan and nothing much to write home about. We ordered the chicken fajita pizza which promised ‘special Mexican spices’ but tasted like a regular chicken tikka pizza with no trace of Mexican condiments.

However, the good news is that where the pizzas failed to deliver, the starters more than made up for. We ordered a variety to get a holistic view of the fare available and were not disappointed. The cajun chicken strips with honey mustard sauce bagged full marks as they were delicious, comprising tender, succulent boneless chicken pieces that were deep fried to a crisp golden without being greasy. Although the buffalo chicken wings tossed in a butter buffalo sauce and served with a cool ranch dip were not as spicy as they claimed to be, nor as tangy as they should have been, they were nonetheless tasty.

Similarly, the chicken quesadillas; though not authentic — the tortillas were more like a cross between parathas and chapatis made out of refined flour — they were delicious, with a filling of tomatoes, jalapenos, salsa and sour cream. We also tried the mozzarella sticks served with basil marinara sauce — appetising, deep fried cheese sticks, but somehow missing the mozzarella texture.

With two soups on offer, the choice for this course is extremely limited, The tomato basil soup with chunks of feta cheese floating in it looked far from appetising, leaving one with just the tom yum soup as an option. Thankfully, the latter, though not the best in town, is tasty enough, with a generous sprinkling of seafood, and flavoured with lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves. The soups are accompanied by garlic bread.

If you are a chocolate lover, and particularly if you have a penchant for chocolate molten lava, served to perfection in many restaurants these days, opt out from trying it out here. Served cold, and not at all gooey and flowing, the dessert is highly disappointing.

Manhattan Pizzeria has the advantage that it supplies its pizzas to its canteen at the Cineplex as well, so if one doesn’t have the time to sit and eat at leisure at the restaurant, one can always grab a slice to eat while watching a movie, which I am told has already become standard fare for youngsters — and isn’t such a bad idea for oldies either.

This review was originally published in the August issue of Newsline under the headline “Reel Life Treat.”

The writer is a freelance journalist based in Karachi. She also works at Hum television.