By Kee Foong
Dec 14, 2020
IS THERE A MORE UNIVERSALLY LOVED DISH THAN PIZZA?
In addition to containing all five basic food groups in one compact, inviting serving (yes, we’re totally implying it’s healthy–what?), pizza has also proven itself the perfect pandemic meal: portable, filling and highly comforting. Little wonder the industry has become not just one of the few winners but an incongruous supernova of the Covid economy.
And so, we’d like to pay homage to our favorite pies in the region. Introducing #TLAsiaPizzaWeek, during which we’ll tempt you with our top five slingers of hot-and-gooey goodness in each of five cities. Crusts old-Italy blackened or with that crispy NYC snap, OTT toppings or plain old imported mozz as the star, saucy or white… T+L’s pizza junkies have you covered.
Check back each day this week for Bangkok, Singapore, Manila and Shanghai. But first, let’s start with Hong Kong, where Kee Foong reports on an abundance of upper-crust options. The country has just re-implemented a ban on dining out post-6 p.m. (until December 23) to curb its fourth Covid wave. What better time to phone home some slices?
–T+L SEA team
5 FAVE PIZZAS IN HONG KONG
Hong Kong has almost as many pizzerias as 7-Elevens, with the best using Italian ingredients, from the flour and tomatoes to cheese and cold cuts. Strict fire-safety laws prevent the use of true wood-burning ovens, but there is plenty of finger-licking goodness to be found, if you know where to look.
An offshoot of the original Motorino in New York, the two Hong Kong venues each sport a beast of a Ferrara oven, shipped from Naples and hand-assembled on-site. It burns at up to 500 degrees Celsius to produce Neapolitan-style pies with a charred base in less than 90 seconds. Expect classics done well, including a margherita topped with little more than tomato sauce, mozzarella di bufala, basil and pecorino. Fresh chili gives extra kick to the popular soppresata piccante, and the colatura di alici, with white anchovy and grape tomato, is a burst of summer year round. HK$118 to HK$228.
With a decade under its belt, 208 claims to be the first restaurant to bring true Neapolitan-style pizza to Hong Kong. The menu reads like a classic–margherita, funghi, burratina and tonno–all with nicely blistered crusts thanks to the searing heat from the imported gas-fired stone oven. The best-selling i diavoli is topped with nduja paste, spicy salami and extra chili. Prosciutto pizza features 24-month aged Parma ham, or try the Verona, a seasonal special with sweet gorgonzola, pumpkin cream and walnuts. HK$178 to HK$218.
Let’s be clear, Aria is not a pizzeria. Instead, Chef Andrea Zamboni creates some of the finest Italian cuisine in town. If you have the cash to splash, however, it’s hard to resist one of his light and luxe pies. The most extravagant, served with 50 grams of Baerii caviar, is a yin and yang of briny black gold and creamy mascarpone and parmesan. It costs a cool HK$1,288. Truffle pizza (HK$988) has a carbonara base that’s then showered in white truffle flakes shaved tableside. All of which makes the lobster pizza a relative bargain at HK$588, and no less delicious for it.
La Camionetta could be the Goldilocks of the city’s pizzerias, turning out crusts that are not too thick, not too thin, but just right. French husband Benito oversees the kitchen, and Italian wife Giuli takes care of service at this cozy neighborhood joint that opened amid a pandemic. Toppings sport twists that reflect their dual nationalities: creamy burrata oozing over Parma ham on the la camburrata; and a sweet, sour and salty delight of fior di latte, caramelized onions, confit tomatoes, anchovies and olives on the pizzaladiere. HK$88 to HK$198.
Chef Paolo Monti has been making some of the lightest, crispest Roman-style pizzas for more than 20 years at this refined institution. The most popular is rocket and Parma ham, while his favorite, marinara, is a no-cheese pie that’s a study in simplicity. Regulars know to order off-menu toppings such as zucchini flower and anchovy, or potato and crispy guanciale. Gaia’s outdoor terrace is as close as you will come to an Italian piazza in central Hong Kong, and could be reason enough to dine here. HK$148 to HK$318.
“Extra Topping” honorable mention award to Alvy’s, an American-style eatery that puts an Asian spin on some of its pies–think char siu pork or Sichuan tomato–alongside more traditional flavors.
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.