With awards including the #1 position in the Top 50 Best Pizza in Italy 2018 for his restaurant, Pepe in Grani, and title of “The Best Pizza in the World” in 2016, Franco Pepe has just opened the doors of his first Hong Kong restaurant, Kytaly.
District: Central, Hong Kong
Cuisine: Italian – pizza
Must Order: The classic Margherita Sbagliata
The Best For: Date night, group dinner or celebration – pizza is always a good idea!
Sassy Tip: Food is served in the restaurant from 7pm for dinner, but we recommend stopping by a little earlier and enjoying a drink on the stunning terrace.
Not all pizzas are created equal. Those who know, know that the magic is in the dough – and of, course the quality of the ingredients. We may roll our eyes at pizza snobs, who claim that anything made outside of Italy cannot be considered pizza, but when it comes down to it, they really do know what they’re talking about. Queue: Kytaly – the brainchild of Franco Pepe, a true artist, legend and expert when it comes to pizza, and the man behind Pepe in Grani (which holds the #1 position for Top 50 Best Pizza in Italy 2018). With just one other restaurant in Geneva, the Hong Kong outpost is the first ever overseas location of Kytaly, we had the chance to try it out for ourselves and are letting you know if it truly lives up to the hype…
Before we get to the pizza, Kytaly gives a good first impression. The indoor space is small yet welcoming and complete with chic décor, cosy booths and a special “chefs table” with views of the kitchen. The place to be though, has got to be the outdoor terrace. Bigger than the inside space, the terrace boasts views overlooking Tai Kwun, and features comfy couches along with plenty of space to relax and enjoy the pizza and cocktails on offer.
The restaurant also debut’s Hong Kong’s first Campari Bar, and in true Italian style, the drinks menu revolves around classic cocktails such as Negroni and Spritz (made with either Campari or Aperol). We tried out two: the Hugo ($82) and the Kytaly Mule ($95). The Hugo consisted of lime, mint, elderflower and prosecco and was just as light and refreshing as we hoped, the perfect drink to enjoy alongside some pizza al fresco. If you’re a lover of the traditional Moscow Mules, Kytaly’s rendition also won’t let you down, made with vodka, lime and ginger beer, it was another winner for us.
Now, moving onto what you came here to hear all about: the pizza. And yes, they’re good – very good, for that matter. Starting out, we went for the classic, and tried the Margherita Sbagliata ($200). As the dish that won Franco Pepe the best pizza award, this has got to be a must try for anyone visiting Kytaly. Keeping things simple, the toppings are just Mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP, Riccio tomato, reduction of basil and extra virgin olive oil, and it is this simplicity that lets the dough speak for itself. This is where Pepe’s magic is put in the spotlight, as the dough takes two days to perfect – with the result being a soft, pillowy mouthful of heaven, just crisp enough, with the right amount of chew and char, that won’t leave you bloated for days. A pizza per person here is more than doable, it’s obligatory.
We also tried out the Sole Nel Piatto ($300), made with Mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP, small Piennolo tomato, black olives from Caiazzo, Cetara anchovies, oregano, basil and extra virgin olive oil. The dough again is the star of the show here, but the fresh produce (99% of which is imported fresh from Italy), also stands out as a winner. If you love big flavours, with salty anchovies, punchy olives and a good hit of oregano, this is the pizza for you. Kytaly offers a total of 19 pizzas, from classics such as Margherita’s and the Piccante, to more unique creations, such as the Alletterata ($300) – with Mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP, Alife onion cream, Tuna Alletterato, ice-cooked celery and extra virgin olive oil; the Parmigiana ($280) – a riff on the classic eggplant parm; and the Riccio Nero ($300) – with Fior di latte, smoked scamorza cheese, dried sausage of Black Casertano pig, oregano, frisée lettuce and extra virgin olive oil; so there is plenty on offer to choose from.
When it comes to desserts, diners will not be disappointed. The Dolci menu is kept short and oh so sweet with an offering of three tiramisu’s – the Classico ($120), the Nutella ($120) and the Fragola ($130). We couldn’t resist ordering the Nutella, which was an indulgent pot of chocolate and hazelnut goodness. You don’t get the hit of coffee and liqueur that a classic tiramisu offers, but we think that fans of Nutella will be more than happy with this heavenly variation.
The prices are Kytaly aren’t the cheapest – with the pizzas ranging between $120 to $300 – but you really do get what you’re paying for here. And in the pricey city that we live in, where you can pay a pretty penny for a fairly average meal, we’re okay with spending that bit more on a restaurant that delivers on all fronts.