This post is a part of the What’s On My Plate series
Picture: Sanket Chavan
The pleasantly surprising Goan Sausage Pizza at Off The Wall
This week, I head to Off The Wall, a little place in Sinquerim, where good times are always guaranteed. In order to understand why, you need to first understand the little back story to it. Off The Wall is run at the back end by Ian Marc de Souza, a young but energetic chef. However, the collective unit is a family affair. The front of house is handled by his lovely sister Tanaaz and his even lovelier mother, Michelle. Rounding of the stack is his father, who is key to the entertainment at the venue; a man who needs no introduction on this front, Noel ‘Nini’ de Souza.
In the little space ensconced beside Aguada Anchorage, Wednesday nights are a throwback to a better life, a simpler time. Nini was part of a setup called The Music Company, alongside Alex Braganza on guitar and Marino, who found a way to balance playing drums and bass all at once. As the years went by, the Music Company played to its last curtain call, but after a while, Nini revived the idea with his new act, NOMADS, where Marino eventually joined him. So if you’re there on a Wednesday night, you’re in for a treat. Speaking of treats, let’s get down to the food that will keep you company on your trip there.
If you’re one of those cases where you’ve been overseas yet can’t stop thinking local (which happens often in India), like the proverbial case of ‘being able to take the boy out of Goa, but not Goa out of the boy’, then the local snacks are right up you’re alley and you can always just mull things over with servings of ‘Beef Croquettes’ and ‘Prawn Rissois’. Taking an old favourite but twisting it around, the ‘Mediterranean Beef/Pork Fry’, sautéed with red onions, bell peppers and paprika, which is served with bread, nails the brief on this front too.
But if you can move past that side of your being, then I would definitely recommend the Beef Steaklets Flambéed in Whisky. No, there’s really no explanation necessary. It is exactly what it sounds like, and that, in my opinion, says enough, really. And since we’re on the subject of the world at large, let’s pause to think about their ‘Albondigas Romesco’, which comprises Spanish style chicken or beef meatballs, which simmer away in an Italian sauce, which is served with a side of bread. Or for that matter, the ‘Patatas Bravas’, made of sautéed potato wedges, tomato and spicy paprika mayo, the ‘Patatas Ajillo’, which contains sautéed potato wedges with roasted garlic, and one of my absolute favourites on the menu, an absolutely spanking dish served in a little earthen pot, called ‘Gambas Ajillo’, which is principally prawns with a zesty garlic flavour, that have been poached in olive oil.
In an age when a huge number of people are turning health-conscious (and I count myself within those numbers), a close inspection of the salad menu is an absolute must (especially if you’ve been gorging on chicken wings, the meal prior). I’m especially a fan of Caesar (and the salad that is his namesake isn’t bad either; please excuse the terrible humour). The ‘O.T.W Caesar Salad’ made with roast chicken, iceberg lettuce and smoked cheese guarantees satisfaction, every single time. Another intriguing option that is up for grabs is the ‘Panzanella Salad’ with a balsamic dressing. It comes with an optional side of bacon. Optional? Really? Bacon is never an option. The salad is an option. Bacon is mandatory. Okay, I’ll stop now. If you’re leanings are more in the direction of all things green, then perhaps the ‘Meditteranean Salata’ is where you should be looking. It’s made with salad greens, a tangy dressing and cheese. Sound about right?
This brings us to what many consider the be-all-and-end-all of a meal: the entrée. At Off The Wall, these are all served with sides of salad, mashed potatoes or Italian bread. First up is the ‘Lebanese Style Chicken’ with a Middle-Eastern baharat spice mix, pine nut-almond powder and smoked paprika. This is then served with sautéed greens and bread and pickles. If this has failed to get your attention, perhaps its counterpart, the ‘Moroccan Chicken’, marinated with a North-African mix of spices ras-el-hanout cooked with merguez, a Moroccan sausage, served with sautéed greens, preserved lemon and bread, will.
For steak fans such as myself, Ian Marc nails his disclaimer on the ‘Beef Tenderloin Steak’. The tenderloin is served with a whisky jus, and he cooks this to a maximum of ‘medium’. I like mine done under that, but at least you’re not torturing a good cut of meat by going over.
Up next is what I believe is the house special: ‘Urrak Pork’. The dish is made using cubes of pork belly, which are slow-cooked in urrak (local Goan liquor, from the first distillation of cashew juice), and Goan spices. If you want to connect with a flavour that is truly Goan, you can’t really beat the combination of pork and urrak.
If you’re unafraid of a heart-attack, please turn your attention to the ‘Art Attack Burger’. It has beef, chicken, smoked back bacon, roasted tomatoes, greens, a fried egg and plenty cheese. I think it comes with a side of cardiac arrest, but I could be mistaken. Is it delicious, though? Read the ingredients again. Could there be any doubt?
The restaurant also has a dedicated space that caters to those who crave a little bit of Sicily…or Milan, or Rome, or Florence. Well, you get the point. They work with an array of pizzas that are topped off with smoked chicken, Goan sausage, bacon and Mediterranean vegetables. What I normally find annoying about pizzas with Goan sausage as a topping is the fact that they get ridiculously greasy and can sometimes be off-putting. However, at Off The Wall, they somehow manage to keep this in check, and the crunchy onions that have been gently caramelised, as well as the peppers that make its way to the crust too, enhance both flavour and texture. Their array of pasta cooking styles draws audiences too, and includes the likes of spaghetti, penne or fusilli ‘Alla Puttanesca’ which is made with tomato, olive, garlic sauce and herb crumbs. They also make the age-old favourite with a mushroom béchamel sauce, olives and fresh basil. But here’s where it gets special. You can add smoked bacon and ham, chicken or Goan sausage to that. Enticed already?
The dessert rotates at Off The Wall, and hence, I have chosen to leave that out. However, you want to know what doesn’t rotate here? Good times, a great vibe, and that feeling that everything is going to be just fine. And that is why (even though the food is great too) you should really go here.
Off The Wall is a throwback to what was possibly Goa's most glorious era, the 60's and 70's.
The family-run venture has a very homely vibe and especially comes to life on Wednesday nights.
The average cost of a meal for two (minus the libations) would be an approximate of ₹2000 (at the time of publishing this review).
How to get there
Fort Aguada Road, Aguada Fort Area, Candolim, Goa 403515
Food is a huge part of any culture and for me, chancing upon a good meal is synonymous with having a great day. The What’s On My Plate series of posts is where I discuss food, great places to eat, and anything gastronomically moving. This could be anything from a great place to eat, to an obscure kind of food, to an origin story. After all, there is no love like the love of eating.