For most part, we remember special occasions and memories by the meals we had on the day. Inversely proportional, we make memories and commemorate occasions by having special meals with the one’s we love. When I think back to the time I dined at Smoke N’ Oven, Mangalore, a rush of emotions overwhelm me…
It was not so long ago; November 9, 2014. I had traveled to India to attend my convocation ceremony. Revisiting favorite haunts had been accomplished, graduation was done, we had shopped all day, and there we were – my two friends, brother and I – parked on picnic chairs in a simple thatched-roof cafe which had a reputation for making the most amazing wood fired Pizzas in town. It was the last day of our short visit to Manipal/Mangalore; the friends were to get on a bus in just a few hours. Upon the recommendation of the brother, we had decided to celebrate what was our last meal of the holiday, and what could possibly be our last meal together for a very long time, at Smoke N’ Oven. A bittersweet feeling hung in the air; that was only until we tried the food.
To be honest, never before had I eaten a wood fired pizza. All of the experiences I’ve had relishing pizza have been from the highly commercialized brands such as Pizza Hut, Papa Johns and Dominos. While any kind of pizza is almost always super delicious, there is something awesome about eating pizza and thinking it’s just a tad bit healthier than the others despite the fact that dollops of cheese are smiling back at you. That’s the feel you get when you eat wood fired pizzas. My, was I delighted to find a place which serves them, and in Mangalore of all places!
Smoke N’ Oven is a laid-back pizzeria, hosted within a small shack-like enclosure, situated in Bejai (quite close to Bharath Mall), Mangalore. The folk running the show are friendly and homey, not to mention, incredibly efficient in practicing their pizza magic. What I found really charming was that the menu was handwritten! For someone who has collected empty notebook after empty notebook all her life, scribbling diary entries, recipes, poems and song lyrics across every page, I can’t express how much it means to me when I find something (anything!) written and not typed. The menu had a choice of base sauces and toppings to choose from – basically, you make your own topping combinations and within a half-hour your personalized wood fired pizza is ready and beckoning for you to devour it!
We ordered two pizzas; one with a sausage, jalapeno and basil leaves topping with a green bell pepper base sauce and the other with a sausage, sweet corn and black olive topping with a green bell pepper base sauce (they were out of both chicken and red base sauce that day). The Sausage, Sweet Corn and Black Olive pizza was really nice – a fine mix of simple ingredients, the sweetness of the corn and the meaty flavor of the sausage well complimented the crispy thin crust and delicious mozzarella. The Sausage, Jalapeno and Basil Leaves topping was delish – meaty, a hit of piquancy from the jalapeno and the smokey, herb-y essence of the basil was a winning combination.
We simply loved the food at Smoke N’ Oven. The pizza was just perfectly done – not too greasy, subtly seasoned and the enveloping aroma of being baked in a wood-fired oven. We polished off both pizzas with panache, ending up with pleasant memories, hearty tummies and a bunch of taste buds that were completely satisfied.
If you do happen to visit Mangalore, a meal at Smoke N’ Oven should not be missed! Even as I wrote this post, three months after enjoying that beautiful dinner, my mouth watered and tummy ached for those divine Pizzas! 😛