In the mood for a lok lak pizza? How about a post-Christmas turkey sub? These are just two of the recent specials at Belmiro’s, the popular new pizza joint near the Old Market.
Specialising in generous portions, ever-changing specials and “a slice of home, away from home”’ (if home is the US east coast) Belmiro’s Pizza and Subs has been pulling in the punters, all hungry for a carb-load of hearty Italian-American fare.
Owner Belmiro ‘Tyler’ Jose Barros moved to Siem Reap six months ago after 24 years working in finance, the last 10 of which were spent in Hong Kong. Having become involved with NGO Honour Village Cambodia – Barros is non-executive director and helped raise 50 per cent of the group’s funding through various fundraisers in Hong Kong over the years – he decided to make Temple Town his home.
Belmiro’s is in a former Khmer restaurant next to Boulangerie, and Barros has retro-fitted it out with brick walls, a sleek wooden counter and a cosy red bar. The kitchen equipment is custom made and pizzas are hand stretched.
“A lot of restaurants in town offer everything under the sun: all-day breakfast, Khmer food, pasta,” he says, “so here we just specialise in pizzas and subs and try to keep it fresh with weekly specials.
“As a big fella, this is almost the same menu I grew up with in New England. Boston’s such a big college town so this is really good budget food. One thing I pride myself on is we make the dough and tomato sauce from scratch every day.”
The meat-heavy menu features dishes like pepperoni pizza, meat lovers pizza and the steak bomb – a sub sandwich containing American striploin steak and provolone cheese.
But there are also vegetarian options, such as the cheese pizza and the vegetarian sub with mushrooms, aubergine, spinach and cheese. Having sampled the Aunt Nancy’s meatballs sub, Insider can verify it is delicious, in all its juicy, tomato-y glory.
His meatballs owe a debt to his college roommate Paulie Coppola. “I’ve known the family for 25 years, and it took me 10 years to get the recipe,” laughs Barros, sounding not unlike a character from the film Goodfellas.
“I think this is a unique American pizza place. What I love about it is that it’s good value. I’m not really catering towards the backpacker crowd, but what’s encouraging to me is the Khmers for the first time actually have disposable income. One thing that still gives me a little bit of a chuckle is that they insist on either ketchup or chili sauce with their pizza, but it’s a cultural difference.”
Pizzas start at $10 for a medium and $13 for a large, but are so enormous that people tend to share, while the subs range from $5 to $7 and come with a side order of crisps.
Pizza is also available by the slice for $2 or $3 depending on the topping.
Barros says the specials have proved extremely popular – the turkey sub was available at Thanksgiving and was so successful it was brought out again at Christmas.
“Then we have baked ziti,” Barros adds, “which is a typical Boston-Italian dish: penne pasta with a marinara sauce with minced beef and sausage, topped off with mozzarella. It’s something very New England Italian.”
Barros admits the cheese-laden comfort food isn’t exactly waistline friendly, but with customers returning for more, who’s complaining?
“It’s not the healthiest food in town,” he confesses, “but it’s going to put a smile on your face and you’ll sleep like a baby.”