By Andrew Wright.
Such is the multi-faceted appeal of Santa Maluco, it would do the popular venue a disservice to attempt to shoehorn it into an affixed category. All at once, it caters for post-work cocktail drinkers, looking to wind down after a hard day at the office; romantic diners looking to chat and share a pizza, and groups of friends eager to begin a night on the tiles, sampling various slices from the extensive, but not overwhelming, menu.
The latter of these social functions is where Maluco’s unique allure and jewel in its crown lies. The Rodizio approach. This is a concept employed by the Castle Street venue that allows diners to feast, all-you-can-eat style, on varieties of pizza, cooked in view on a wood-fired homemade oven. Furthermore, though traditionally Italian in heritage, the philosophy is very much Brazilian, with the toppings generous and the decor, huge Christ the Redeemer mural and all, akin to a warm, authentic Rio De Janeiro haunt. This Rodizio idea also provides great value for money, with diners paying only £10 before 4pm for as many slices as they wish, servers bringing round more delights until the diner indicates they are full.
We joined the bustling throng of Castle Street’s post-work revellers and early diners on a Thursday night. Maluco was heaving, and as mentioned before, boasted an eclectic clientele, from office workers with ties a little looser than eight hours earlier, and groups of girlfriends in their glad rags. As a result, the atmosphere was sizzling, and the attentive and knowledgeable staff were mindful to ensure diners were not left waiting too long to sample their next slice.
We opted for a sharing pizza, 18 inches halved to cater both my partner’s penchant for something with (quote) a bit of an extra kick, and my (much) less accommodating taste buds. The compromise was found with nine inches of an ‘American’; spicy sausage, srirachia and requeijao sauce providing plenty of flavour and meeting the ‘extra kick’ requirement in abundance. Staying in relative safety over on my side of the monster pizza, I tucked in to a ‘Ma-Donner’, a novel selection of toppings which featured shoulder of lamb, cabbage and mint and yogurt dressing. Far from evoking memories of 4am kebab-house feasts, it’s quality ingredients ensured an air of sophistication was brought to proceedings. Though the informal atmosphere invited a relaxed approach to tucking in, there was no messing around when it came to the flavours on offer.
With established and hugely popular venues such as Salt Dog Slim’s in their ever-expanding portfolio, Graffiti Spirits Group have struck gold again with Santa Maluco. Sitting comfortably in the city’s buzzing Commercial District, Maluco is a nod to humble Brazilian-cafe style food, executed with Italian grace and elegance. Above all it stands proudly, all relaxed and that, in the midst of Castle Street’s hectic hustle and bustle.