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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Aubergine-o-licious

MTIt's easy to forget you're in a shopping-mall restaurant at Melanzana.
Melanzana is a grill and pizza place that recently opened in the bottom of Berlin House. While grill restaurants are springing up all over town and Italian would have to be one of Moscow's favorite cuisines of late, Melanzana does manage to create something fresh and new with its fusion of the two.

The pizzas would seem to be the stronger of the two sections, given that Melanzana has a dedicated pizza chef, Pasquale Cinotti of Naples, who has 37 years' experience making pizzas. The collection of pizzas offers all the classics, such as margarita (290 rubles), four cheeses (420 rubles) and four seasons (470 rubles). More interestingly, there is a selection of special pizzas titled "Neapolitan Pizzas from Pizzaiolo Pasquale Cinotti." These include the chef's own original creations, which turn out to be both hit and miss. The specialty of the house, the Melanzana (380 rubles) is definitely a hit, with a mix of grilled eggplant, sun-dried tomatoes, diced eggplant, blended eggplant and Bulgarian peppers. The artichoke pizza (520 rubles) is more of a miss, however, coming out rather bland even though menu listed spiced olive oil as one of the ingredients.

The grill menu is not exactly a steakhouse selection, but still offers a good range of both meat and seafood. Australian rib-eye steak with salad costs 780 rubles, Argentine marbled steak 980 rubles. A mixed plate with something for everybody -- quail, turkey fillet, lamb kebab and chicken kebab -- costs 1,050 rubles. The seafood version for two includes tiger prawns, fillet of salmon and dorado (1,150 rubles). There's also salmon steak with mango salsa (390 rubles) and dorado with thyme (670 rubles).

Wine starts at 190 rubles a glass and beers include Krusovice light and dark (150 rubles a half-liter) and Paulaner unfiltered (190 rubles a half-liter).

Melanzana may be in a shopping center, but that doesn't detract from the overall atmosphere, as the chocolate-and-tan color scheme is warm and friendly. That, plus its proximity to plenty of office workers, should see it filled with a lunchtime crowd, if not some after-work diners.

5 Ul. Petrovka, 1st floor of Berlin House, 775-1969/59, M. Teatralnaya.