If you’ve never tried Indian pizza, I get your skepticism. Combining Indian food with the perennial Italian-American slice sounds wrong, initially. But Indian pizza makes perfect sense when you strip away the only real Italian element — and in this city, how many pizzerias use actual Italian sauce anyway? As I discovered recently at Pizza Jarry in Parc Ex, Indian pizza replaces tomato sauce with the staple stews of Indian cuisine, often filed under “curry” by whities like me.
Pizza Jarry is located in what used to be India Beau Village, a restaurant in the northern sector of Little India that moved to a bigger space a few blocks west back in 2012. Pizza Jarry serves the usual array of pizzas, pasta dishes and casse croute fare, though I can’t say I’ve tried any of that. But I have eaten every one of their Indian pizzas: punjabi hot and spicy, chicken tandoori, palak paneer and (though somehow it’s not on the menu) butter chicken.
Indian cuisine is heavy enough as it is, with concoctions of ghee, oil and paneer fattening up so many of its most popular dishes. Adding bread and cheese to the mix is not a winning health choice, but like most comfort food, that’s not really the point.
If you’re familiar with butter chicken, you can imagine how highly a slice of butter chicken pizza ranks on the deliciousness scale, with that rich, tangy sauce layered between quality pizza dough and mozzarella. The tandoori chicken pizza was a real revelation, transforming the dry, red BBQ rub into a sauce and vegetable mix that practically explodes with spicy flavour and sweet heat. This was the one that got me going back to grab slice after slice. I gained weight eating this pizza.
Less mind- and face-blowing was the palak paneer pizza. It’s one of my favourite Indian dishes, but its relative lack of sauce made it underwhelming, despite the cheese upgrade — paneer and white people’s cheese blend so well, it makes me wonder what paneer would taste like on a poutine.
The punjabi hot and spicy pizza was more subtle than one might expect. At first I thought I’d accidentally been served a straight-up vegetarian pizza, as the toppings are more standard than those of the other Indian pizzas: mushrooms, green peppers, tomatoes and green olives. But the heat of the punjabi sauce was a creeper, revealing itself gradually until the last bite, leaving me a little red in the face. As a souped-up veggie pizza, it hit the mark, just not as hard as I thought it would.
That said, note that the spiciness of the pizza sauce is kind of up to you. It’s the same drill that anyone who frequents Indian restaurants will be familiar with (especially if you show your white/non-brown face in the restaurant as opposed to calling for delivery): Unless you specify that you want it hot, none of these pizzas will overwhelm you the way you (may) want them to. Not with heat anyway. Just with flavour, and maybe a few extra pounds. ■
752 Jarry W. (Parc Ex), 514-278-8777
See the menu and more details online here.
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