82 Sadovnicheskaya Ul., bldg 2., (495) 721 3182, m. Paveletskaya
Open daily 8 am-midnight
Coffee-bar culture in Moscow seems to be reaching saturation point, judging by the sudden rush to diversify. As long-standing chain Shokoladnitsa opens up a riverside terrace, so Coffee Mania turns its hand to a pizza restaurant, at least at its Paveletskaya location. Barmalini is tucked in next door – tucked so neatly that at first glance it’s easy to miss – and offers the familiar Coffee Mania favorites plus a range of pizza whipped up before your eyes by dough-juggling chefs wielding razor sharp choppers for their prosciutto.
The ambience is perhaps a notch more urban than the average coffee bar: ventilation pipes on the ceiling and bare brickwork on the walls plays for contemporary hip rather than home-from-home cozy. But a scattering of cuddly toys around the place, and a few childish-naïve paintings on the walls save it from being sterile. A TV showing cartoons and – on weekends, at least – a couple of clowns show there are efforts to make this a family venue, and the no-smoking policy certainly helps with that.
As for the food, Coffee Mania has a good reputation and that carries over to the new brand. All that floury aerobatics creates light, thin pizza crusts. In a single bite these remind you of the difference between the real thing and the cheap ’n’ cheerful frozen alternatives. Then we come to the toppings. Far from slathering with tomato and cheese and hoping for the best, these keep the sauce to a flavorsome minimum and let your chosen ingredients speak out. There are even some white pizzas, without the traditional tomato sauce: the ambitious belaya promises bells and whistles and even an egg yolk floating around on top, while the more restrained carbonara contents itself with finely shaved ham. The classics are all present and correct as well, with a pepperoni delivering exactly what it promises.
© The Moscow News / Andy Potts
Barmalini’s pepperoni pizza has a light, thin crust
The rest of the menu is taken directly from the Coffee Mania next door, which is perhaps a little disappointing. A couple of bespoke starters might be just the job for Barmalini, but luckily the coffee place is justly noted for its food as well as its drinks. And the intriguing khabryuza salad is worth a look, with its curious sweet and savory mix of watermelon, tangy cheese and pumpkin seeds, liberally sprinkled with ground pepper. On the plate it arrives like a castle made of children’s building blocks, and once over the initially disconcerting blend of juicy fruit and rather dry seasoning the whole thing is surprisingly moreish. The whole lot can be washed down with the perfect summer accompaniment – a modern take on a Soviet-style lemonade, benefitting from having natural flavors rather than a squirt of luridly colored chemicals.
If the Barmalini brand is set to spread across the city, it will make a welcome addition to the range of casual eateries in town. It offers good quality food, albeit at higherthan average prices, in a pleasant atmosphere. For now, it seems destined to be a treat for the office workers of Zamoskvorechye, just slightly too far off the beaten track to become a fixture for visitors from outside the area.
Khabryuza salad 530
Carbonara pizza (small 370
Pepperoni pizza (small) 370
Dyuchess (500 ml) 450
Tarkhun (350 ml) 370
Green tea (500 ml) 490
*All prices are in rubles
Read other articles of the print issue “The Moscow News #69”