Swatantra Sarjano made India his home more than 30 years ago. Sarjano started the Rajneesh Café in the Osho Ashram in Pune, and was a photographer in Italy for some years before coming back to Pune when Osho returned. He now lives in Goa and runs an authentic Italian restaurant. In one of his discourses Osho says, “Sarjano means creativity in sanskrit, and that's why I have called Sarjano with this name, because he is the most creative person you can think of. At six o’clock in the morning he comes here, on the roof above Buddha Hall, where he translates my books from English to Italian. At ten he runs to the kitchen, where he prepares lunch for the whole commune, with his group of crazy Italian friends. In the afternoon he comes to my house to take my picture, and in the evening he is in the kitchen again, to make one hundred big trays of pizza for everybody to enjoy. Sometimes I wonder, I really wonder...where does he find the time to be that famous Latin-lover that I've heard so much about!”
Yes, thank God they keep on popping up like mushrooms, and they are creating a reputation for Goa too, because if you know it or not, the Italian restaurants of Goa are widely considered the best in all India!
It happens that I have one of these restaurants myself, “My Place” in Vagator as many of you know already, and all my Indian friends from Mumbai, Delhi or Bangalore swear that they love Italian food in Goa more than in their own city, and that in Goa you simply get the best of it.
The last born in this greasy family is called “Roma” and it is located in Ashwem, at the end of the beach in direction north, or we can say about one kilometer after “La Plage” or “Papa Jolly”, which are much more famous…and I still wonder why!
“Roma” in fact is not a new brand, because it had its outlet in Candolim for six years, but then they had to close down thanks to the greediness of their landlord.
I will explain to you how it works having a restaurant in Goa: if the landlord sees that your restaurant is even just a little successful, you can be sure that next year he will ask for a rent which is double than the original one, simple!
That’s precisely what happened to “Roma”; year after year saw their rent increasing to the point that it became impossible to sustain it, and they had to go in search of a cheaper location.
They found it finally last year in Ashwem, and “Roma” started shining again, and making the pizzas for which they are rightly famous, and it is a real expert to tell you this, because I have made millions of pizzas in my 33 years in India, so I’m possibly the best adviser on the subject, and my sincere statement is that “Roma’s” pizza is the best in all Goa, just try it!
Besides our Neapolitan creation, at this restaurant you can find the biggest selection of Italians specialties that you can dream of, from their celebrated “Ravioli”, to “Vegetarian Lasagne” or the classic “Bolognese” with minced meat, from the most extravagant “Risotti” or “Tortellini di Carne” – which look like little ravioli stuffed with minced meat and herbs – without mentioning their grill, which is offering fish and lamb on barbeque, to end with the most fabulous “Tiramisu” you can have in Goa!
A few words with Kharis, the guy behind this adventure, who has a very strange name for an Italian, but his father Alberto – who I quote in my book (Food is Love) as the creator of the tomato sauce called adequately “Alberto Sauce” – was in the U.S. when Kharis was born, so he got this weird name!
“So, Kharis, how come you ended up in Goa, and when?”
“C’mon Sarjano, you know it better than I do!”
”Yes, but my readers don’t know it, so you have to tell them, not me…”
“Okay, I came nine years ago to help an Italian friend who wanted to open a restaurant (which is you!) and after this beautiful experience I thought that I was ready to open a place myself, and that’s how “Roma” was born.
“After five years in Candolim we moved to Ashwem, because of the rent increase, and because nowadays it is a far better place than old Candolim. On top of that the place is full of Russians who are notoriously in love with Italian food and all in all we are having a quite good clientele!”
What else can I say? That I'm proud of my kids and their creation? I am, in fact! And I invite you to check out this "Roma", next time you are in Ashwem...