The circus has arrived in Bogota. But I’m not talking about acrobats and caged animals; it’s a new restaurant that the JW Marriott hotel has brought to the city.
After walking through the doors of the JW Marriott, head straight to the open air restaurant towards the back. A burbling pool is at the center of the restaurant. Right now their theme is Fuego (Fire), with decorations in red, including plenty of red lighting, which does give it a circus-like feel. There’s an appropriately relaxed atmosphere with sofas, tables for two, and long tables for groups scattered around.
A pale brick gas oven takes up a good part of one corner of the restaurant. From USA, the oven was so large it had to be lifted into the restaurant with a crane.
Pizza is the main attraction at this circus. Mario Torres, the pizza chef, who has worked in pizza places around Bogota, explained to me that in addition to their regular thin crust pizza, people can choose from quinoa or chia seed dough. The chia seed version is gluten free, while the quinoa crust has about 10% other flours to avoid an excessively dense dough. I was happy for the invite to try the Chia seed pizza, since I’m always on the lookout for gluten free meals to recommend to people with special diets.
The menu is far from typical, at least in its design. Written in a newspaper-like format, you’ll find (in addition to the food) crosswords, poetry, recipes, and even a classifieds section. All in Spanish, of course.
The menu has suggestions for pizza, with typical options like Meat Lovers, Pepperoni, or Four Cheese. The Tartuffo pizza sounds interesting – Coppa ham with Portobello mushrooms, burrata, and truffle oil.
There is a design-it-yourself pizza option, allowing you to put together your own pie by choosing from different sauces and ingredients. After choosing the dough you want, head on to the list of cheeses (mozzarella, Parmesan, Gorgonzola, as well as Gouda, Swiss, goat or burrata). A long list of vegetable options includes (but is not limited to) black or green olives, spinach, Portobello mushrooms, arugula, artichokes, jalapeños or caramelized onions. For meats, choose from pepperoni, Italian sausage, lobster, shrimp or Coppa ham, or you can even try pizza with turkey ham.
The appetizer/salad menu is short: two Carpaccio options, a burrata salad, and a focaccia and prosciutto dish. I tried the burrata, which was classic, creamy, good – but no surprises here. It was arranged over a balsamic vinaigrette, with some lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and small bits of dehydrated black olives.
The drink menu has a few beers and wines. The wine list is brief, mostly from Chile with a few from Argentina. They don’t seem to think pizza lovers are going to go for wine. It would be nice to see more beers on the menu, since beer and pizza are an ideal pair.
The short cocktail list makes a good effort to be Colombian. Lulada Envenenada combines cinnamon, lulo (you know, the tart, green fruit) and aguardiente. The classic Canelazo Colombiano is panela, cinnamon, aguardiente and lemon. There are also a few wine cocktails.
I tried a tea cocktail, Té Frutal & Limon. With lime, bits of fruit and herbs, vodka and soda water, it’s like a drunken aromatica. Tip: stir it every so often to revive the flavors.
The next time I go to Circo I’ll try the very Colombian flavors of Maracuyá Ardiente, which is made with passion fruit, pineapple, orange juice, aguardiente, soda and a ginger infusion.
The dessert list is short: cheesecake (it has an Oreo base), tiramisu, wasabi brownie (the wasabi is in the ice cream) and gelatos.
Live bands play from Wednesday to Saturday. On Saturday there are also other shows: after all, this is a circus.
Prices at the time I went:
- Salads: COP 16,000 to 22,000
- Pizzas cost from COP 16,000 to 32,000. The average is 20,000.
- Cocktails: COP 24,000
- Club Colombia Beer: COP 7,900
- Desserts: COP 9,000
Calle 73 No. 8-60, Bogota