On my first day of my visit to this Himalayan paradise , hungry and tired from the overnight bus journey from New Delhi , I just walked into the first restaurant that caught my eye , the bright saffron and cream ( though I suspect it was white originally ) colored , seven table , twenty four seater , “OGO’S CAFÉ ITALIANO “ and today , nearly three weeks into my stay here , I again was in this cute little café, just a few steps down hill from the main McLeod Ganj Square , for maybe the twenty fifth time .
This small hole in the wall eatery is open for breakfast , lunch and dinner , serving mostly Italian cuisine including Pizzas , Pastas , Brochettes and some chicken dishes ( though they also have a rack of lamb on the menu as a special , that along with bacon has never been available in all my visits )
On my first visit I made the mistake of ordering Mushroom Alfredo pasta described in the menu as pasta in a creamy garlic mushroom white sauce ( Rs.65/- or US$ 1.50 ) , though the pasta was done just right , the sauce had no flavor or presence of garlic and was little more than boiled cream milk with some spices added to it , a real disappointment , which has kept me from venturing to taste any other pasta on there menu , ever since . But luckily I had ordered it with garlic bread ( four toasted slices of what looked like a French Bourget ) ( Rs. 35/-, US$ 0.82 ) , which proved to me nice , warm and crisp along with an iced ted ( Rs. 25/- , US $ 0.58 ) which was slightly on the sweeter side but had a wonderful fresh flavor to it .
My next visit was the very next day (in spite of the pasta debacle) and what took me there was the memory of the cozy feel and the garlic bread. I spend in excess of an hour reading a book on the speeches of the Dalai Lama , from their bookshelf , and enjoying my Garlic bread with an excellent Tomato Soup ( Rs. 45/- , US$ 1.05 ) which was delicately flavored with oregano and paisley . Subsequently I have also tried there Traditional Minestrone /Spinach (Both Rs. 45/- , US$ 1.05) Spinach with yoghurt / Non Veg Minestrone (Rs. 55/- , US$ 1.35) and never had a reason to complain.
The menu on my third visit was Ice tea with a Quattro frommagi Pizza , (Rs. 70/= , US $ 1.60 ) a divinely thin and crisp , freshly baked from the scratch , mozzarella , edan ,gouda and cheddar pizza , I have no other word to describe it except heavenly. Though on a subsequent visit I tried converting a already perfect dish into something better, I added sun dried tomatoes and capers to this pizza (both at Rs. 15/- , US$ 0.32 each, a total addition of US$ 0.64 to the base price of US $ 1.60, bringing the total cost of the pizza to US $ 2.24) Another mistake, I got a total of 15 pcs. Of capers on my pizza ( I know using imported ingredients and keeping the price right can be tough , but that is something you decide before putting them in your menu , folks) and the sun dried tomatoes were cut in such thin funny tasting strips , well no comments on there taste . Later also tried there Piripiri Pizza, a delightful spicy veggie combo pizza (Rs. 70/- , US $ 1.63)
Another one of my mistakes there was there mozzarella and tomatoes salad, I had visions of juicy roma cherry tomatoes with nice big globules of mozzarella shining with a nice coat of olive oil dressing, like the one I get at my favorite Co-op food store in Coralville, Iowa, USA for $ 4.00 per pound, but what was served instead was thin silvers of mozzarella (which actually did not taste bad) on top op sliced tomatoes which again lacked the ripe taste to them.
I know that the review is getting to be too long but that is because I have eaten nearly every thing on the menu here, but one more dish I have to include is Sicilian chicken (Rs. 130, US $ 3.00) Pounded and rolled breast of chicken stuffed with mozzarella and presto and served with presto mayonnaise, is how the menu described it except what was served lacked the presto mayo. It was pan fried making it a bit too crisp, would have been better had it been cooked in an oven, but that is only my opinion, you may like it pan fried.
I once tried there Brownies (Rs.40/- US $ 0.93 ), which was too dry for my liking , well guess will have on keep on going to MOONPEAK , a nice coffee bar on the nearby Temple road for the best brownies in McLeod Gunj.
The service at the restaurant done by a pair of very nice natured and always eager to please young Tibetan Ladies, the younger one of whom, I discovered is named, Sonam, who will never disturb you or ask you to leave even if you have been sitting at a table for four and sipping on the same coffee for last half an hour enjoying the music and they have other guests waiting for a table, though I try never to exploit their hospitability by overstaying .
Let me warn you that your menu here will be accompanied by a little piece of paper and a pencil, you are required to write down your order and special requests, if any on this paper and if you are a part of a bigger group and wish to get separate checks, I suggest that you use separate pieces of papers as these little chits will later be transformed into your tabs
PS: The reason I have been so critical about some of the dishes in this restaurant is because they are by far my favorite, place and people, in all of McLeod Ganj and I just want them to be perfect, In fact even better than that if possible. And they have the best pizzas, breads and mozzarella in the town, So ladies no hard feelings I hope. AND AS IT SAYS ON THEIR MENUE
DIG IN WITH GUSTO
AND HAVE A GREAT TIME WHILE WITH US
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