REVIEW: Indian-Italian fusion with a Czech twist pops up in Karlín

Pop Up is the Zátiší group's foray into a world of reasonably priced meals, free drink refills, and experimental menus.

Julie O'Shea

Written by Julie O'Shea Published on 28.02.2024 16:02:00 (updated on 01.03.2024) Reading time: 4 minutes

There’s a new startup in Karlín. Pop Up ze Zátiší, Sanjiv Suri’s foray into a world of reasonably priced meals, free drink refills, and experimental menus, had its soft opening in mid-February, spicing up the lunchtime options for the fast-paced business district.

The spot, with its flashy interior design and eccentric wait staff, is a sharp – but welcome – contrast to Suri’s more upmarket Prague dining venues under his Zátiší Group portfolio. He has called Pop Up his startup, a place to tinker and try out different concepts. 

The food mixes Czech, Indian, and Italian; the atmosphere is decidedly casual: neon lyrics from the Spice Girls, Queen, and the Eurythmics splash loudly across the walls.    

Could this be an indication of an exciting new trend for the Zátiší Group? Perhaps. The website hints at global brand expansion plans “built on the best customer experience and technologies.”             

THE BUZZ

Photo: Pop Up ze Zátiší
Photo: Pop Up ze Zátiší

While it may seem an unlikely addition to the Zátiší Group, which includes the highbrow restaurants V Zátiší and Mlýnec as well as a thriving catering arm, Pop Up appears to be a smart business move. The current economic climate and soaring inflation rates have many keeping close tabs on their spending habits these days.

No one knows this better than Suri, a native of Delhi who laid the groundwork for the Zátiší Group shortly after moving to Prague in the early 1990s. After a rough couple of years that forced his conglomerate to significantly cut staff and shutter one of its trademark restaurants, Bellevue (a victim of the Covid-19 lockdowns), the restaurateur resurfaced with a fresh perspective on the changing market environment.  

Pop Up, with its sleek social media presence and signature cocktails – a stylish piña colada that arrives at your table looking like a prima ballerina en pointe, a swig of baby’s breath poking out, comes to mind – seems in tune with the neighborhood’s hipster vibe. 

THE VENUE

Photo: Pop Up ze Zátiší
Photo: Pop Up ze Zátiší

Nothing about Pop Up pops out from the street, despite the small sidewalk signage signaling that something awesome and cool awaits just around the corner. The fact that there is a restaurant inside the Main Point Karlín office building is a surprise. Its ground-floor location will undoubtedly benefit the folks working upstairs but could be a con for attracting residential neighbors.

The dining room, a large concrete space marked by floor-to-ceiling windows, lots of lovely green plants, and hanging lights that look like delicate papier-mâché creations, was rather sparse during our recent visit. In fairness, we had made a late-lunch reservation, so it was hard to tell if news of its opening just hadn’t gotten around yet or if we’d simply missed the typical noontime rush – a big possibility as the lasagne bolognese was, regrettably, already sold out.                   

THE FOOD

Photo: Pop Up ze Zátiší
Photo: Pop Up ze Zátiší

With traditional Czech, Italian, and Indian dishes represented, there is a lot to choose from here. A lot. The lunch menu provides a decent sampling of Pop Up’s mainstay dinner and weekend offers at a slight discount. We tried to taste some of everything – eggplant masala with basmati rice, goulash with dumplings, nanitos with chicken tikka. 

The lunch menu provides a decent sampling of Pop Up’s mainstay dinner and weekend offer at a slight discount. We tried to taste a little of everything – eggplant masala with basmati rice, goulash with dumplings, nanitos with chicken tikka. 

All heartily devoured, all worthy picks. The slight mishap was the goulash, strangely spiced and with a side of dry dumplings – a reminder that it’s hard to serve consistent winners when juggling three distinctly different cuisines in the kitchen.  

Pop Up’s butter chicken has been heavily fawned over, but the true standout here might just be the pinsa, a photogenic light rectangular pizza that quickly became a fan favorite. We ordered the diavola pinsa, and it did not disappoint. You wouldn’t go wrong ordering all three pinsas in the restaurant’s tasting menu.

The drinks list is also generous with wine, beer, cocktails, soft drinks and coffee available. However, at least during lunch, patrons are handed an elusive gift: free refills on table water or lemonade.                       

THE VERDICT

As the startup community can attest, things don’t always roll out smoothly right after an initial launch. This latest endeavor from the Zátiší Group shows a lot of promise – a friendly, attentive wait staff, an admirable food and drink selection, and prices that won’t devour your monthly budget.

Unlike what its name might suggest, Pop Up ze Zátiší is no temporary fixture. It’s here to stay and determined to shake up the Prague dining scene.   

FROM THE LUNCH MENU

  • Diavola Pinsa – CZK 240
  • Pinsa Tasting – CZK 350
  • Eggplant Masala with Basmati Rice – CZK 290
  • Goulash with Dumplings – CZK 185
  • Nanitos with Chicken Tikka – CZK 185
  • Lasagne Bolognese – CZK 205
  • Pilsner Urquell .33l – CZK 65
  • Piña Colada – CZK 250
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