Disclaimer: This article has been sponsored by ‘Zza Bar but is in no way influences the author’s review.
To dine at ‘Zza bar, you have to know of its existence. Tucked in a corner of Agumbe Highway, this little slice of heaven can easily go unnoticed. However, if you’re lucky enough to notice it, congratulations and welcome to possibly your new favourite authentic dining experience in Manipal.
Once you enter the establishment, you are immediately greeted by friendly staff and the wafting aroma of Italian food. It’s a tiny place but that doesn’t stop it from being the epitome of comfort. Complete with exposed brick walls and an open kitchen, the place attracts your full attention. Mellow music plays in the background and it is nothing short of a sensory experience.
But does the food live up to ambience? We can say with absolute certainty that the answer is yes. Yes, it does!
The Pizza Montanara, essentially a bite-sized fried pizza filled with cheese and mushrooms, is an explosion of flavours in the mouth. ‘Zza Bar managed to deconstruct an already familiar dish, serving it in an innovative and delicious manner.
Cheesy fries and pesto mayo dip– a classic. So simple and yet so delicious. Undoubtedly one of the best dishes of the day. If you’re looking for a light meal, these fries will fulfil your craving.
In between the bites of cheesy goodness, something was needed to break the monotony. The refreshing mint lemonades did just that. They were the perfect complement to an amazing meal.
With the main course, ‘Zza Bar managed to keep the momentum of the meal. Another striking dish that we were served with was the Eggplant Parmigiana. With eggplant being used instead of lasagna sheets to make this dish, it manages to put a unique twist on a classic.
And of course, my personal favourite, the Stuffed Cannoli. Handmade dough rolled into pasta and then cooked into tomato sauce, it’s like biting into a slice of heaven.
What is an Italian restaurant without a pizza? Handmade pizza made from scratch- an absolute delicacy. ‘Zza Bar also provides all those curious vegetarians with the option of a vegan ham pizza (spoiler alert: it’s absolutely scrumptious.)
To top it all off, the desserts. A bite of the Tres Leche cake felt like biting into a cloud. So soft and scrumptious, it melts in your mouth. Or if you want to keep the theme of cheesy dishes consistent, we recommend sinking your teeth into a delicious cheesecake– each bite soft and heavenly.
However, every high has some low. Despite the spectacular dishes, the service was a bit slow- a little strange given the small size of the establishment. It was also a little overpriced, but it can be a great place to go to reward yourself with that occasional meal after a tough week, or for a celebration . A cozy hideaway from the outside world, it offers the same nostalgic Italian food wrapped up in a layer of innovation and delight.
Reviewed by Tanya Jain for MTTN
Photographs by Lavanya Karinje and Tushar Machavolu for MTTN