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Walking down a street. Looking for a warm spot to defrost my fingers. Turn the corner and stumble upon a beautiful building from the soviet times. The air is filled with incredible aromas. A magnetic toasty smell fills up my lungs. No restaurants in sight.
I walk around the building looking for the source. It could be a babushka on a floor above cooking something delish. I suddenly am presented to a spiral stairway leading downwards into the ground. At the end of the stairwell is nothing but darkness and suspicion.
I ball up and slowly tiptoe downstairs out of curiosity. Ah! The aroma! It is much stronger. There's a giant wooden door. I open it.
And that, my friend, is how I discovered my favorite pizzeria in Ukraine. It was an incredible experience. One look at the menu and no expectations at all. I was forever hooked!
Today, I take you to another branch of Marinela. This is located right next to the back gate of the Gorki Park in the center of Kharkiv city.
As usual, my expectations have risen. But what a branch they've made!
Unlike most of its branches where they follow a traditional interior, this branch is more contemporary. This visit was made pre-lockdown, when it was a festive season. The interior was designed appropriately.
This is what it looks from the outside.
INTERIOR & DECOR
As soon as you enter, to your right stands a beautiful staircase leading to the party hall. This is where people celebrate everything from birthday parties to company events.
The interior has a beautiful antique wooden look to it. The white wall on the front has a welcoming feel...and those are the restrooms. You wouldn't even guess it is.
To your left sits a beautiful decor. A short table with a wooden crate holding some festive designs and a small santa welcoming you inside.
Right next to the white wall is a beautiful mirror and a "staff's entrance". If you were feeling a bit off, this mirror will help you proper up.
The white wall with wooden accents that almost resemble something from the wild west continues in the restrooms. If you are wondering why I stepped there, first...it is because I was curious.
I hate it when a restaurant does no believe in the entire experience and focus on something specific like just plating or seating. I appreciate a restaurant that takes everything serious and elevates the complete experience.
It is incredibly rare to find so much attention to detail in a restroom of a restaurant unless it is massively overpriced or massively reputed.
Entering the dining hall, it expands to the right that leads to seating and a bar at the end.
Right next to the entrance to the dining hall is another beautiful plant top which brings so much ambience to hall.
The hall has been renovated a lot since the last time I was here, which was around 2 years back. The wall with the glowing PIZZA had a brown wallpaper. The ceiling above is now a false ceiling with beautiful white light embedding and wooden accents.
The red corner next to the bar feels like a social media corner where people could take pictures with the quote behind.
The glass walls overlook part of the Gorki park which elevates dining experience...during the day.
The dining hall is pretty spacious and wonderfully ambient. Stimulatory designs fill up everything from the floor, wall to the ceilings.
It is bright, quite and doesn't reek of roast or food, which can be very repulsive.
MENU & FOOD
The cuisine they follow is mainly Italian. Pizzas are what they specialize in. Thin crusted pizza. A very unique take contradicting the mainstream demand, a precise focus on uniformity across all their branches, and an excellent delivery of food.
Their pizza menu is almost untouched from the first time I have come across Marinela. Cheese, chicken, beef, pork. The usual.
Apart from that they serve many forms of pasta, fries, assortment of beverages and drinks, traditional soups and a plethora of salads.
You can also opt for a selection of grills. My favorite is the chicken wings with bbq sauce. They have desserts, of which my favorite is chocolate fondant. You could request them to make it in front of you.
This time I went with my favorite picks from their pizza menu: Standard Chicken and Ceasar.
One of the cooler things about Marinela is that you can always order half a pizza. Yes, half a pizza is on the menu.
They do not cook an entire pizza and serve one half and throw the other, they instead have bread prepared for half a pizza.
This is really cool and comes in handy when you aren't feeling too hungry or if you are just feel like trying out a new pizza.
It remains one of the few restaurants that stick to a cuisine and relentlessly chase to find perfection in it. While other competitors usually dilute their menu by trying to fit in more cuisines or items, Marinela stands strong and faithful.
The incredible effort in enhancing the entire dining experience through paying attention to every detail, not limiting themselves to just one corner, is very visible and deserves much appreciation.
They still are one of the best pizzarias in Kharkiv with a lot to boast about. The food, a solid 10/10.