I recently got a chance to have a behind-the-scenes look at a new business set to open in Albany (technically Colonie). Dave Kahn, former owner of Burger Centric [derryX Dines, derryX Dines Revisited] on Delaware Avenue, is bringing his passion for food back in a different neighborhood with a different spin. In addition to his exotic burger creations (which he tells me will not be quite as expansive as Burger Centric unless special requests are made), he has enlisted the help of others and is equipped to offer pizza as part of his standard menu.
Dave’s Pizza and Burgers will be located at 53 Fuller Road, former home of Mama Mia Pizza and is awaiting final approval from the town of Colonie to open.
Dave invited me and a handful of others to come and taste a few experimental concepts that he hopes to unleash as specials in his restaurant. Dave knows me as a former customer at Burger Centric; I wasn’t shy to offer him feedback about his food. He actually gave me the pleasure of allowing me to watch him work in the kitchen.
The main course was “Qeema Pizza.” Qeema is a south Indian dish that is a masala (stew) of ground meat. As a specialty item, Dave seeks to meld this concept with pizza and provide an experience that is unrivaled in the area. For our dish, Dave pulled out all of the stops and used a special breed of beef (akin to Kobe) that he sources.
He also prepared “murgh masala” (chicken in a spicy sauce) and “Dunmba karahi” (a cousin of lamb kebab accompanied by a zesty sauce).
I watched Dave cook at his stove (which ironically has a splash guard made up from an old Burger Centric sign).
Dave assured me that the meal was going to be spicy. To make it so, he cooked special Indian “Hari Mirch” peppers into the masala, and incorporated a special Mr. Naga achar into everything.
On a dare, I tried a hari mirch pepper raw and some of the Mr. Naga achar. Dave was surprised that neither phased me. The Mr. Naga sauce didn’t really hit me until I swallowed. Those of you keeping score at home, Naga is the “Ghost Chile,” which has been lauded as the hottest pepper in the world until recently. I’m an old pro at naga.
Dave first prepared the chicken and kebab dish and then went back to the kitchen to prepare the qeema pizza while we enjoyed the other dishes.
Both of these were intensely flavored and delicious. I was really pumped about the qeema pizza, because, honestly, I had no idea what that was going to be! I wasn’t ready for what emerged from the kitchen.
It immediately reminded me of a curry or masala with naan bread, and, when shown how to eat it (by gripping some of the stew with the bread), that’s the idea. When it’s offered on the menu, clients will have the option of having the stew served on the crust, but that eliminates part of the fun and authenticity of the dish. Because of the type of beef used for our preparation, which has a high fat content because of the way its cultivated, there was a lot of oil to eat around.
It’s all flavor, but, honestly, there’s only so much fat I can consciously eat. The dish was superb. It’s definitely something I’d order in the future (maybe with leaner beef — which I know will sacrifice some flavor).
We sat around and talked it up with Dave. He’s an eccentric individual, but he’s a nice guy. He told us about some of his world travels including his (over)indulgence of food and culture in Turkey, one of his favorite places in the world.
All of the stuff we got to try was delicious but I’m looking forward to getting in there to try just the plain pizza. They have great equipment to make quality pies. Also, they’re going to carry on Mama Mia’s tradition of maintaining a special of two plain slices with a drink for $3.75. That’s pretty awesome.
You can follow the status of the opening of the shop at the restaurant’s Facebook page. Whether it’s pizza, a burger, or one of Dave’s eclectic creations, you’ll eat good once they open.