Volcana Lounge: Fine pizza, deluxe ambience

After braving Tuesday night’s devastating rain at the Red Rock’s Backpacker’s campsite in Musanze, I was not only looking for decent food, I wanted it piping hot.

After braving Tuesday night’s devastating rain at the Red Rock’s Backpacker’s campsite in Musanze, I was not only looking for decent food, I wanted it piping hot.

A friend had recommended Volcana Lounge to me for its pizza, but I had found it hard to believe him. It’s not everyday that you come across really good pizza in Kigali, so I found it even harder to believe I could find it all the way in Musanze, Northern Province.

Abdou, the expatriate who runs the place, has trained an army of loyal kitchen staff in the art of pizza making. At the snap of his finger, and before you blink an eye, your pizza will be steaming right before you. The pizza is cooked right before you on a huge, wood fired oven to give it that extra flavor you won’t find in Kigali’s fast food outlets. This is what sets Volcana’s pizza apart. Probably the best in town. What’s more, you get to place your own order for toppings of your choice.

The menu is limited and largely pasta-based. When I ordered for my pizza, Abdou promptly came around and challenged me to a bet; my pizza would be ready in less than 20 minutes. With that, he snapped his finger and, no sooner had he done that, one of his female chefs was already kneading the dough. The staff is calm, attentive and speak good English and French. As the name indicates, Volcana is a lounging place. It’s like sitting in your own living room or house, only this time it’s bigger and more deluxe. There is a lounge with an open fire that is favoured by most clients on chilly days. Comfy lounge sofas with soft, snow-white pillows are also dotted around. I opted for the balcony on the upper floor, which houses the main bar and dining area. This balcony commands a picturesque view of the undulating hills beyond the Bank of Kigali complex.

When my pizza finally arrived, it was more than I’d asked for. No wonder I even had the luxury to call in two ‘mercenaries’ with who to demolish it. Not only was it steaming hot, the portion was generous and, above all, it arrived in record time – after just 11 minutes! Seeing as he had kept his word, Abdou came around brandishing a watch, pointing at it and reminding us how he had beaten his own record. Abdou is a friendly and humble guy who occasionally delves into the kitchen to personally make pizza. The Rwf5,000 I forked out was absolutely worth it.

Volcana Lounge also serves Mozarella tomate basil at Rwf4,000, Salad nicoise at Rwf4,000, while Lasagna goes for Rwf5,500 (alforno) and Rwf4,500 (spinarch. The bar is well stocked with all tribes of exotic wines and spirits, and local beers.

This place was originally Volcanica Bar, but it closed its doors in 2009 as the owner jumped into partnership with another guy to rebuild it. The result was the addition of a restaurant upstairs. Downstairs, the main bar area is adjoined by a mini disco area that hosts the occasional live band and private parties. The interior décor is rich and cut in stone and eucalyptus.

The clientele is largely foreign tourists to or from gorilla tracking/mountain hiking excursions in the hills of Musanze, while Bank of Kigali senior employees also like to lunch here. On the day we checked in, there was a small group of expatriates huddled around the bar counter upstairs, sipping their drink accompanied by a good laugh.

 

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