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Sunday Musings: Kudos To New L.A. Indian-Italian Bar!

New Los Angeles Indian-Italian sports bar strikes me as the first really creative, authentic, original fusion marriage I’ve heard of in a long time. Owner Avish Naran’s vision sounds well-conceived and well-executed. Like the signature flavour of a previously undiscovered country…

Green Chutney Pijja - © Pijja PalaceGreen Chutney Pijja: A Pijja Palace signature dish…

Sports bar issue not even relevant

This ain’t your average bar food! In fact, that’s not even a relevant issue. Consider a resto where you can walk in and order exotic treats like Dosa Onion Rings, Green Chutney Pijja (pijja being a play on ‘pizza’), Malai Rigatoni, and Tandoori Spaghetii.

I had never before considered the similarities between Italian and Indian food: Various degrees of spiciness. Flavour styles that have become the culinary signatures of whole distinct regions of their homelands. All with a nuanced, comforting feel that can only be described as authentic – almost ‘meant to be’.

A natural for Naran

Naran has named his resto Pijja Palace, a playful take on its Italian-Indian provenance. If there had been an Italian-Indian fusion tradition of some kind in this L.A., it might seem natural that he’d exploit it. But it appears that Naran’s mixed heritage is more or less unique.

And it’s still more quirky and surprising that he would hire Chef Miles Shorey to make his refreshing new menu vision a reality. Shorey, already a celebrity of sorts in the young, hip SoCal hip food realm, apparently boasts no significant fraction of either Italian or Indian blood surging through his veins.

It all adds up to…

… An inescapably original experience that’s bound to get your own culinary creative juices running. Thanks to the traditional simplicity of both Italian and Indian cooking – with their roots both in home kitchens stretching back generations – it’s no big deal for any of us to try making our own versions of Naran’s and Shorey’s new-fusion specialties at home. They’re both traditionally relatively inexpensive eating styles, light on meat and ultra-fancy veggies.

“Just because we’re not doing frou-frou shit doesn’t mean we can’t be creative,” Naran declares in a recent statement that zings with an energy Pijja Palace regulars will swear reverberates in the air. But I also detect the unmistakable tang of wishful thinking in the air.

Flash of inspiration or flash in the pan?

So… Is Pijja Palace really something special, or just another fad disguised as a new, brilliant, authentic, much longed-for concept?

Muse on that…

~ Maggie J.