Back in the Fussy Days (for it could be said that I used to be the world’s fussiest eater), I absolutely loathed pizza. Whenever my brother insisted on going to Pizza Hut, I would, at the age of seven, buy some chicken nuggets (or whatever it is Burger King calls them), and take them to Pizza Hut, where I would sit as far from the pizza (and my brother) as possible, only gracing him with my presence because I had been promised dessert from the infamous ice cream machine.
Now, however, I have seen the light, and in fact it was my suggestion to take my brother to brand new Pizzeria Pubblico for dinner one night. There was no promise of ice cream, but thankfully he didn’t need persuading.
Pizzeria Pubblico, tucked away in the little alleyway behind Pure by the escalator, opened earlier this month by Integrated Hospitality Management (IHM), the brains behind Posto Pubblico (hence the name) and Linguini Fini. Owners Rob Spina and Todd Darling are childhood friends who grew up in their families’ pizzerias in New York; Spina’s grandfather was a New York Pizzaiolo from Sicily. They wanted to create the same true New York style pizza in the heart of Soho, and that is exactly what they’ve done.
The space is very casual with an open façade, chequered flooring, brick walls and informal seating. In true NY style, orders are placed at the counter, where you are given a number and told to listen out for it. There are five choices of ‘pie’ visible through the counter, which you can either buy by the slice (starting from $30) or the whole pie (from $200). I find it mesmerising to watch executive chef Vinny Lauria (who you may recognise from Linguini Fini) and his team kneading and tossing the pizzas in front of you.
Vinny’s roots are also from Sicily, meaning the choices are classic and unpretentious, offering Plain (a la margarita), Pepperoni (my favourite; the pepperoni is made in-house), Sausage (again, homemade), Brooklyn Special (with fried aubergine, tomato sauce, roasted peppers, roasted garlic and Pubblico mozzarella), and another of my favourites, Pubblico (topped with Pubblico mozzarella, ricotta, tomato sauce, fresh basil, parmesan and extra virgin olive oil). The bases are not Napoli-thin, but nor are they ciabatta-thick; they are a perfect middle ground between the two, topped with nothing but the freshest ingredients and made before your very eyes. Personally I like my pizza generously sprinkled with chilli flakes, a pot of which awaits you on every table.
Aside from the pizzas, there are a small number of salads and ‘subs’ on offer. We tried the Italian Sub, liberally filled with three different kinds of meat (Mortadella, Salami Milano and Capicola – similar to coppa), pickled peppers, lettuce, tomato and onions. The bread is baked fresh daily and is wonderfully soft. Though the focus is obviously on the amazing fillings, the subs would not be complete without the deliciously fresh bread.
The Insalata Mercato Fresca, made with fresh ingredients from the Homegrown Foods farm, works well as a side dish, though I’m not sure I would be satisfied with it on its own. After all, Pizzeria Pubblico is really all about the pizzas.
Staying true to the team’s Sicilian roots, the only dessert offered is cannoli, an essential part of Sicilian cuisine. A tube of crispy pastry is lovingly filled with a blend of mascarpone and chopped pistachios. Though I’m not always a fan of creamy desserts, this definitely won me over.
Pizzeria Pubblico isn’t exactly cheap as chips, and although it may be slightly more expensive than its rival from down the street, personally I think it might actually be better. What’s even better is that the slices are smaller and less doughy, which obviously means you can have two slices and not feel like a complete fatty. At the moment, pizza is served until 11pm, with plans to stay open later to feed the late-night crowds. So if you’re worried that ordering two slices might be a bit gluttonous, you could always have one for dinner…and one several hours later as a snack on your way home!
G/F Tsun Wing Lane
Tel: 2530 2779