By Stephanie Zubiri
Dec 16, 2020
WHILE PIZZA HAS ALWAYS been a staple in Manila, for a long time this was the land of thick bready dough and bright-yellow, sticky processed cheese. That alone would be enough to make any true Italian pizzaiolo slap his or her head in despair. Wait til you mention that the Philippines is also the capital of the Hawaiian pizza–statistically the top-selling type of pie in the country. One famous local fast food pizza chain sells close to seven million ham-and-pineapple pizzas a year!
For those of us looking for a little more depth of field, I’m happy to report that the last five years have seen the rise of boutique pizzerias dedicated to making quality, artisanal pies that are guaranteed to elicit a “chef’s kiss.” Buonissimo!
You would never think that this little joint, nestled in the heart of Poblacion, would be making such amazing pies from their industrial-container kitchen but they sell out on the regular. Their standard handmade-sourdough round pizzas are topped with fresh ingredients and are just the right size to devour on your own. Actually, order two. Crosta is also known for delicious innovations such as their dairy-free vegan pizzas made with cashew cheese, or their star-shaped stuffed-crust ones. But their latest creation is absolutely TDF: the Roni Sicilian is a deep-pan, rectangular pizza that’s got amazingly crunchy edges, an airy chewy center and is topped with crisped up pepperoni cups. It’s the epitome of a classic, Continental street-style pizza indulgence. Pies from Pp200 for the Basic Bitch classic margherita. @crostapizzeria
Since opening in 2012, Jutes and Cello Templo have been committed to creating the perfect Neapolitan-style pizza. Baked in a ridiculously hot brick oven, the result is that coveted blistering, puffed-up and crisp crust with a thin, chewy, saucy center, dripping with flavor that one must sexily slurp up as you go in for a bite. Apart from the usual red-sauced classic, Gino’s offers a scrumptious selection of Pizza Bianca, topped with ricotta, local white cheese, parmesan, olive oil and basil. By nixing the tomato sauce, the perfectly fabricated crust is allowed to shine. Also not to be missed: their homemade burrata. Pies from Pp296 for the marinara. ginosbrickovenpizza.com.ph; @ginosbrickovenpizza
It should be no surprise that this little Italian joint has been such a hit, run as it is by Amado Forés. He and his mom, Margarita Forés, Asia’s Best Female Chef in 2016, share an abiding love for all things Italy. True to the place’s name, their pizzas are made by hand, with a slightly denser and chewier crust than a true Neapolitan pizza–which allows it to better hold all the deliciously fresh, imported Italian ingredients. A crowd favorite is the Carbonara Pizza: a pizza bianca made with pecorino romano, guanciale, egg yolk and a generous smattering of black pepper. Pies from Pp 550 for the Margherita with Buffala. @amano.ph
From the team behind the über successful Wildflour Café+Bakery, the masters of dough bring their own spin to Italian cuisine. Wildflour Italian makes classic thin-crust pizzas in a wood-fired oven with a lovely springy texture that bake into wonderfully melded pies. Their “special sauce” is not in the sauce at all but in their homemade, fresh and creative toppings. Covered evenly with delectable goodies, each bite is an amalgam of your favorite flavors. Try their N’duja with homemade spicy n’duja sausage, kale and mozzarella, or their Mushroom with bechamel, porcini, white buttons and parmesan. Pies from Pp695 for the Margherita. wildflour.com.ph/wildflouritalian; @wfitalian
When Elbert Cuenca decides to do something, it’s usually something singular and is as close to perfection as humanly possible. Teaming up again with his chef brother, Adrian (they also run Elbert’s Steakroom), he dove deep into the iconic Italian staple. After spending some quality research time in Naples, they’ve brought back that traditional savoir-faire to their Salcedo Village pizzeria, with pies made from imported Caputo 00 Pizzeria Flour. Thin, crunchy and chewy, it’s as close to the real deal in Napoli as you can possibly get. Pies from Pp420 for the Margherita. @elbertspizzeria
What’s your favorite pizza in Asia? Share a photo on Instagram, tag us @travelandleisureasia and use the hashtag #TLAsiaPizzaWeek for a chance to be featured on our social media.