Phnom Penh’s culinary options grow exponentially by the year. Thanks to the influx of expat chefs from the world over, it is increasingly easy to satisfy urges for niche cuisines ranging from Balinese curries to Barcelona tapas. But despite the growing diversity, much room remains for improvement to the offerings of some of the world’s most well-known dishes. Such was proven last week when Brooklyn Pizza and Bistro opened its doors: while pizza has long been available in Phnom Penh, this new place has taken the ubiquitous cheesy pie to a new level of quality.
Pizza restaurants in Cambodia are mostly either Italian (think Neapolitan) or American (think pepperoni). Although Brooklyn Pizza, as the name suggests, is very much an American establishment, Brooklyn native Jay Miller said that he wants to create unique dishes with elements from both Italy and America.
“There’s New York-style pizza on the corner at the mom and pop shop that can be average, then there’s this new emergence of artisanal pizza,” said Miller, who formerly owned the Bangkok Pizza Co. restaurant in Thailand.
Mixed characteristics give the pizzas a fusion edge. Brooklyn’s dough, explained Miller, contains the high gluten flour (almost 14 per cent) that pervades American pizzerias. But he brought on an Italian chef in order to give the sauces a more traditional element.
We ordered three pizzas to test the waters: The Godfather ($9.90 for the 12 inch diameter, $14.90 for 16 inches), Brooklyn Bridge ($11.90, $16.90) and Stella ($8.90, $13.90). The Godfather pizza, which was my personal favourite, packed Italian sausage, sliced meatballs, mozzarella, parmesan, olives, green peppers, chili flakes and tomato sauce. Like a fine wine, its many ingredients gave it an interesting flavour that transcends easy explanation — a bit meaty and a big veggie with a mildly spicy punch.
The other two pizzas, which were of equally high quality, carried a similar sophistication without being overbearing.
I was particularly impressed by the crusts, which I normally don’t think much of, because they had the quality of masterly baked fresh bread. I may not understand the intricacies of flour or baking, but Brooklyn is doing something right in this department.
We did not sample the hamburgers, but Miller explained that the beef is all sourced from the capital’s Danmeats butchery and cooked using the sous vide method. No fillers are added, said Miller, with 100 per cent beef in all burgers. Prices range from $5.90 for a simple Royale to $9.50 for the Royale Double Bacon Cheese. Cheesecakes ($2.95) are the primary dessert option, but Miller informed us, half embarrassedly and half proudly, that they were sold out.
Even with the average price at above $10 per pizza, Brooklyn feels like great value. While Italian traditionalists may prefer something more orthodox, this new joint is in the running for best pizza place in the Kingdom.