Dec 17, 2020
ON NOTING THAT I WAS WRITING THIS ARTICLE, a friend from New York messaged me, “Why the heck would you eat pizza in Singapore?” She had a point, of course. From chicken rice to nasi lemak, to satays and banana leaf curry, plus a million options beyond those obvious choices, this city does possess an embarrassment of riches when it comes to terrific local street fare.
Still, few quick’n’sleazy meals hit the spot quite like the original fast food, pizza—particularly when it’s made in the authentic Italian/American manner, or elevated to gourmet status by a creative cook. This exhaustively researched (and obnoxiously longer than my editor requested) list of the best pizza in Singapore features prime examples of both forms. The top five are listed alphabetically, because it’s true what they say: Pizza is like sex. Even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good. And when it’s great… Well, judging that comes down to personal preferences and predilections.
Italian chef Beppe de Vito is the culinary auteur behind two of the best fine-dining establishments in Singapore—Art restaurant and the Michelin-starred Braci. Though the setting is far less formal at his central business district bistro, Amò, Beppe is just as particular about pizza as he is when crafting a finicky degustation confection. From packing Amò’s chefs off for training at Italy’s top pizza academy and personally cultivating the mother yeast for the carefully leavened dough, to using specific Italian ingredients of the finest quality and provenance (including olive oil pressed at his own farm in Puglia), Beppe is an utter pizza perfectionist. That’s clear the moment the plate lands on the table. Each punctiliously proportioned Amò slice is individually dressed to ensure the ideal distribution of toppings. If you were wondering, Amò is short for amore, meaning love, a whole lotta which plainly goes into these pies. Pies from S$22. amorestaurant.sg; @amorestaurantsg
This intimate Italian-style bar-ristorante traffics in excellent cocktails (spritzes and Negronis the specialties) accompanied by deliciously decadent takes on a ‘peasant’ dish known as pizza fritta. Popularized in Naples during the Second World War, when the ingredients for regular pizza and fuel for wood ovens became scarce, this proletarian variant features a moist, flaky deep-fried base, traditionally coupled with dollops of economical flavorings like ricotta and pork crackling. The guys at Bar Milano have taken the so-called ‘pizza of the people’ to another level by adding ingredients such as organic egg, truffle and wild mushroom, but our pick of the menu remains the simply fantastic Napolitano, with nothing but top-tier tomato, basil and buffalo mozzarella. Washed down with a nice Chianti—eh, fuggeddaboutit… Pies from S$12. barmilano.sg; @barmilano_sg
Many aficionados assert that the golden discs of dough at Travis Maseiro’s two Blue Label Pizza outlets are this city’s best in class. The American chef shrugs off any such grandiose proclamations. “Pizza’s so subjective, everybody has their own preferences,” Travis says. What he has attempted to create at Blue Label is a hybrid, inspired by the structurally robust New York-style pizza of his youth, but with the airiness of the Neapolitans and an avant-garde approach to toppings. “We take liberties: we’ll use octopus, or we do pistachios and asparagus, which most people are like, that’s disgusting, but you know what? It’s delicious,” Travis says. “We have a smoked salmon pizza on the menu and a pizza that’s Mexican-Lebanese… You can definitely get just a pepperoni pizza here if you like, but I think our M.O. is more on the creative side of the ingredients. It’s all about a great crust, though—that’s the foundation.” Pies from S$28. bluelabelpizza.com; @bluelabelpizza
Situated just off Bukit Timah, adjacent the billionaires’ bungalows of King Albert Park, Lino is operated by the same organization as one of one of Singapore’s most revered temples to gastronomy, triple Michelin-starred restaurant Les Amis. You can sense the big sibling’s influence in the outstanding produce used at Lino, and the simple but elegantly executed presentation of the 12-inch pizzas here. Even the take-out boxes are objects of beauty, resembling a classic Factory Records album sleeve designed by Peter Saville. Highlights include a fresh burrata pizza with cherry tomatoes; a garlicky seafood pizza with the perfect spread of prawns, scallops, squid and clams in the shell; and a rich pancetta pizza with egg, potato, pesto and fior di latte. But feel free to pick from the menu at random, you really can’t go wrong. (I was once delivered the rather rococo escargot pizza by mistake. It was a happy accident.) Pies from S$20. linorestaurant.com
Despite having only formally opened in September, Lucali BYGB has quickly cemented its status among the top pizza purveyors in town. The star of the show here is a painstakingly made 18-inch pie, replicating the signature dish at Lucali’s New York namesake and wellspring—a Brooklyn comfort-food mecca that regularly sees queues snake down the block. Peek into the kitchen to witness the Lucali process: First, hand-shaped bases are artfully doused with the house’s signature tomato sauce, then adorned with a combo of buffalo and low-moisture mozzarella, plus a custom selection of toppings to suit your tastes. Fresh from the oven, the pie is in a final flourish sprinkled with parmesan and more basil than a Fawlty Towers marathon. Unadorned pies from S$55 plus S$5 per topping. lucalibygb.com; @lucalibygb
Three “Extra Toppings” honorable-mention awards (because I couldn’t stop eating)
Owned and operated by Puglian chef Cataldo Lafiandra and his wife Brenda, this welcoming Italian restaurant has occupied three different spaces since its founding in 2004. Now situated in the tony Tanglin enclave at the top of Orchard Road, though the faux-exposed brick and charmingly kitsch murals of the previous location at the Singapore Art Museum are a thing of the past, Lafiandra remains a little slice of southern Italy in Southeast Asia. Some of that sense of place stems from the terrific authentic pizzas and superb pasta. But a big element is the warm service helmed by maître d’ Michele, instrumental in making this spot a popular ‘neighborhood’ Italian—even for people living five or 10 kilometers away. Pies from S$24. lafiandra.com.sg
Singapore wasn’t always the culinary wonderland it has become today. While there’s never been a lack of excellent Asian cuisine, 20 years back, there was a real dearth of reliable western dining. Many residents hold fond memories of Prego as one of the scant few proper Italian restaurants operating in Singapore in the 1990s and early ’00s. Recently redesigned and refurbished, this veritable institution continues to serve up hearty Italian fare including excellent wood-fired pizzas, with toppings inspired by chef Mauro Sanna’s upbringing in Sardinia—one of the healthiest places in the world, with a high incidence of residents living into their hundreds. Could this pizza be the fountain of youth? No guarantees, but a visit to Prego will take plenty of Singaporeans back to their childhood. Pies from S$28. prego.com.sg
Al fresco: Publico
If you fancy dining on (absolutely awesome, delightfully fluffy) pizza in a leafy outdoor setting, Publico is the go-to. Take a seat on the outdoor terrace at this riverside restaurant, order a bottle of rosé and a Capricciosa pizza—with supplementary anchovies, may I suggest—and languidly observe joggers, cyclists and pram-pushing parents struggle by as you spend your afternoon in a far more civilized manner. While the exterior is a major draw, this is also a superb spot to dine undercover should the weather turn inclement, with chic design courtesy of the acclaimed New York agency AvroKO. Service, meanwhile, much like the pizza, is among the best you’ll find in Singapore. Pies from S$23. publico.sg