A Passion for Pizza

Food Issue 200 Jul, 2018
Text by Evangeline Neve

When it comes to restaurants I like, I admit to being pretty boring: a creature of habit, if you will. The reason is simple – if they have something delicious that I love, I often don’t feel like taking the risk of trying something else that I may or may not be crazy about.

When it comes to Fire and Ice, the well-known pizzeria in Tridevi Marg, the Capricciosa is my standard pick; a pizza covered in ham, artichokes, black olives, on a tomato-sauce base, of course, then smothered in oozy mozzarella cheese. It would be hard for me to imagine anything I’d rather eat, and as I sit typing this, I feel hungry and little forlorn, wishing I was eating one right now. The slight tang of the artichokes offsets the richness of the ham and cheese, and the whole combination is one where every bite is just pure happiness. For years now I’ve had almost nothing else while there. My habit is to diligently peruse the menu, then pick exactly the same thing. Over the last few months, however, I’ve begun to experiment—just a little.

It began when my niece ordered the Pizza Quattro Formaggi, or Four Cheeses, which is topped with blue cheese, mozzarella, Kanchan and ricotta. We swapped slices, I bit in – and oh, wow. I might have just found a new favorite. I’d expected it to be too rich, what with all those cheeses, but it wasn’t. Decadent and delicious, yes, particularly the segment that was home to the blue cheese. For once, I was more interested in someone else’s pizza than my own, though my niece was having none of it, and shooed my hands away as we both enjoyed our own orders.

Another happy surprise came when I tried the Pizza al Rosmarino, which uses special Himalayan mozzarella from the Himalayan French Cheese co., some fresh onions, and delightfully, fresh rosemary. The combination of ingredients, which I would never have thought to put together on a pizza myself, turned out to be amazing. As with the Four Cheeses, I did not actually order this pizza—my sister did. So I suppose if there’s a point it’s this: if you’re too stuck in a rut to ever order a new dish, take your family and friends along—they’ll order something different, you’ll get to taste it, everyone’s happy!

My most recent foray into trying new things (and yes, this time I ordered it myself) was the Spaghetti Bolognese: if you’ve ever been there while they’re cooking up a batch, you know the savory, meaty, delicious smell that fills the area—and not just in Fire and Ice itself, but for quite a distance. A slow cooked sauce with deep flavor and a taste that stays with you, it’s perfect when you want something warming, comforting and hearty. And the Spaghetti Puttanesca—anchovies, olives, capers and a bit of chilli in a tomato base—is also sublime. There’s more to eat here than pizza.

It’s unlikely, of course, that I’m ever going to give up on my favorite Pizza Capricciosa, but branching out a little has been a delicious experience. Of course, so much of this has to do with the fact that Fire and Ice is such a consistently good place to eat, and everything—from the fun artwork to a crisp glass of white wine to the bustle of happy eaters to the yummy smells and yes, even those clean bathrooms—are all part of what adds up to make eating here such a great dining experience.

Of course a place would be nothing without the people behind it, and it’s Annamaria Forgione, who first opened Fire and Ice back in 1995, whose energy and enthusiasm dreamed it—and then implemented that dream through hard work. Her passion, inspiration and love for both people and good food are what keep so many customers coming back time after time. When I overhear her speaking with staff and customers both, her attention to small details and insistence that everything be done right is part of the reason, I think, that the food is, as I said, so consistently good—no small feat here. Both this Fire and Ice and the one in Kolkata, where I’ve never been but have heard is also great, have been featured in the international media and won awards for their pizza. To do that day in and day out, producing something this high quality every single day, well – it’s just amazing. I remember hearing that during the fuel shortages of the blockade, Annamaria and her staff cooked the tomato sauce for their pizzas in a huge pot on an outdoor fire at her home: that’s an example of what I mean—a team that’s commitment to excellence, delicious excellence that’s pizza shaped.