Villa Nova in Arpora is welcoming pizza and peace seekers with a space that’s got a cafe, pizzeria and a cocktail bar all neatly packed into a whole. We’re heading here for Sunday brunches and date nights because we can’t decide whether we like the white walls and plants more in the day or twinkling lights and a starry sky at night.
An old house that’s been given a stellar makeover, Villa Nova goes for the whole sweet and simple (less is more) philosophy. The couple that runs the show here, Aliya and Imran, get their friendly pups over, they believe good pizzas can melt the hardest hearts and they are happy to day drink gin cocktails and chat up with you. We were charmed by the Mediterranean vibe and the fact that in true Goa spirit, nothing felt rushed as we sat in Nova's freshly-washed courtyard.
There’s a tiny indoor bar with artworks sourced from an artist in Mapusa, so you’ll see elements from local folklore and culture and be greeted with plants, rooster paintings — all the while being soaked in warm afternoon sunlight. While we fell head over heels for the Aperol Spritz (there’s also Elderflower Gin, yum), we won’t lie that coffee drinker had a moment of unadulterated love with the cup of espresso. They’re also prepping a social bar in another room that’ll be your best friend for tipsy conversations once the rains come on (we can tell you there’s a gorgeous wall art underway).
Bougainvillea boroughs, gentle breeze, Jazz and the anticipation of seeing your pizza make it to the table… Some things are meant to come together perfectly. We tried the spinach and pepperoni half and half pizza which they said was usually out of character for them. The woodfired, thin crust pizza was a delight with the sauce and toppings in a sort of perfect unison. Both the halves made both the halves on the lunch table very happy.
The menu at Nova is a tribute to all the food Aliya and Irfan love from around the world. This is why, the familiarity of finding Aglio Olio pasta, Green Curry, Calamari Fry, Nasi Goreng and Fish And Chips along with the freshest salads (our favourite is Baby Spinach & Roasted Pumpkin), made us sing with joy. It was as if someone scoured and tested truckloads of dishes from many cuisines and found our favourites. And boy! They get the gyozas so right! The prawn gyoza was full of big, chunky prawns, loaded, sinful and perfectly pan-fried on the outside. The veggie gyozas were equally good with the taste of the filling really standing out.
Ending the meal with a scoop of pistachio ice cream, we felt light as a cloud but happy as a well fed bird — a level of perfectly full we haven’t felt at a lot of restaurants.