Wandering along Weichselstraße in Neukölln, beneath the perfumed Linden trees, you'll find a crazy amount of bars and restaurants. In the last couple of years, the number of hip places to be fed and watered in this popular district has sky rocketed and it seems as though a new one pops up every week.
A couple of weeks ago my boyfriend and I were strolling around the neighbourhood, looking idly for somewhere new to eat and happened upon Monella. It looked welcoming and boasted a simple chalk menu of various pizzas and with it being a stones throw away from home, we decided to give it a whirl. The world of vegan cooking fascinates me so it was the vegan pizza option that swung it.
We sat outside to enjoy the delicious, balmy nights Berlin has been blessed with of late, but had a peek inside to find a rather impressive silver pizza oven burning away. It looked to me as, if Frank Gehry designed pizza ovens, this would be his creation. Other than that, the restaurant had all of the typical Berlin restaurant/bar favourites- the stripped back, rustic and 'shabby chic' charm.
The pizzas came and without expectation, were absolutely delightful.
Vegan options can so often be simply an after thought and while it is great when places choose to include vegan dishes, when the offering is a slice of rock hard avocado with slices of vacuum- packed beetroot stuffed into a dry tortilla wrap, (no names mentioned), I'd rather they just didn't bother.
The vegan pizza at Monella was no afterthought.
Much care and consideration had gone into its creation with the rich tomato base, beautifully roasted aubergine and courgette teamed with a drizzle of fragrant green pesto. The dusting of ground cashews pleased me no end and created a perfectly unctuous and comforting affair and also reflected the obvious attention to detail that had gone into the planning of this pizza. My partners Calzone was bursting with flavour and a liberal amount of gooey cheese.
To accompany my blissful enjoyment of this vegan pizza, the service was a dream, something that still seems a treat when eating out in Berlin. Good service is never a guarantee in this city. Here, the chap behind Monella with Italian/Austrian roots, (hence the taste for great quality pizzas), takes his menu very seriously. On telling him of my complete relish for the vegan pizza, he explained he had taken a lot of time experimenting with different flavours to achieve the best combinations. And you can taste that, my pizza was simple but perfectly flavoured.
As well as pizzas, you can find anti pasti, desserts and some rather fancy cocktails.
By Berlin standards, the prices are not cheap, but reasonable between 8-12 euros per pizza. And I have to remember that Berlin and in particular, Neukölln, is no longer the place I moved to five years ago. More and more people like myself have made it their home and prices have soared in all aspects of life. Of course it is still cheap compared to London and many other hauptstadts, but times are a changing!
Anyway, Monella is great, and if this is one of the positives that has arisen from such gentrification- divine vegan pizzas served with happy, smiling faces, then to that aspect of gentrification I say, amen.
Monella, Weichselstraße. 17, Neukölln, Berlin
U-bahn- Rathaus Neukölln