The Jazzy Pizza Joint

MTCafe Ray boasts three halls, a non-smoking section and live jazz.
There aren't too many dedicated jazz clubs in Moscow, let alone inexpensive ones, so the recent opening of Cafe Ray is a welcome addition. Named after Ray Charles, the cozy club has a lot going for it.

As seems quite common for jazz clubs, Cafe Ray's design features lots of exposed red brick, which is not to say that it resembles a typical basement beer bar with arched brick ceilings. For starters, it is not located in a basement, and the furnishings, which include a fair amount of velvet curtains and the like, are fairly swanky -- although this is tempered by the often humorous and always colorful caricatures painted about the walls. There are three main sections, a cafe at the front, the bar area, which includes a not very isolated nonsmoking section, and the main restaurant and performance hall.

The prices here are more than reasonable, especially given that the concerts are free. Draft beer starts at 100 rubles for Bochkaryov, although Guinness is too expensive at 250 rubles (Heineken costs 150 rubles and Edelweiss sells for 180 rubles). House wine sells by the glass for 160 rubles.

The food is also good value, averaging around the 200-300 ruble mark. Salads include Greek (200 rubles), Caesar (chicken -- 200 rubles, tiger prawns -- 250 rubles). Soups are similarly priced at 170 rubles for minestrone or 220 rubles for cream of broccoli with prawns.

Italian dishes are fairly prominent on the menu and include a mix-and-match pasta option of either penne, tagliatelle or spaghetti with a choice of sauces: neapolitana, bolognese, beef and porcini or carbonara (all 250 rubles). There are six varieties of pizza, all equally priced at 230 rubles. As is becoming increasingly popular around town, there are also a couple of steaks -- rib-eye (850 rubles) and t-bone (950 rubles).

If you're looking for some cheap beer, pizza and some live jazz then Cafe Ray is the place for it, come the weekend.

Cafe Ray, 46 Novoslobodskaya Ul., (499) 972-4577, 10 a.m.-midnight, Fri. & Sat. 10 a.m.-6 a.m., M. Mendeleyevskaya.