From a kitchen on Sothearos Boulevard stocked with homemade tomato sauce, cheeses and an array of “gourmet” ingredients, veteran restaurateur Dah Lee is trying to heighten the capital’s pizza palate.
The Chinese-born New Zealander says that his new delivery-only Pirate Pizza is bringing “upmarket” and “handcrafted” pies all over town.
Lee, whose operation launched earlier this week, offers delivery to your home or office. Having opened and run multiple restaurants in New Zealand, Australia and now Cambodia – including Street 308's Mama Wong’s – he says it was his “passion” for trying out new restaurant ideas that led him to create Pirate Pizza.
“Local people know what pizza is but not as a gourmet taste yet,” he says.
“To me, I call it like a [traditional] bistro with modern, high-level cooking techniques it is a mix of French and a lot of Italian and Spanish influences”.
On the menu are the expected items, such as garlic bread, margherita or feta cheese pizzas, as well as more “homemade gourmet” options like “Canadian smoked salmon”.
His sauce, he says, is “secret” but contains some 15 ingredients “gently simmered for several hours”. The toppings, like sautéed wild mushrooms, garlic and shallot confit and roasted red peppers, drive home the “gourmet” aspect of the operation.
“The rich tomato sauce forms the essence of every Pirate Pizza,” he explains. It’s a name he chose mainly because it is easy to remember.
“If people understand good pizza with cheeses like parmigiano-reggiano or robiola, they won’t go away,” he says. “We have a simple goal: to give you the best hand-crafted artisanal pizza in Phnom Penh, delivered to your door. Some of our ingredients are imported, and the best salmon is imported here from Canada.”
He’s also proud of his equipment, a conveyor pizza oven from Australia. It cooks the pizza in 10 minutes, which stands in contrast to the 24 to 72 hours Lee claims they let the dough rest after “hand-kneading” it.
With fresh and quality ingredients, Lee says Pirate Pizza is driven by a love for high standards. The gourmet pizzas come in a large size only and run from $4.50 to $12.50.
“We have our own note, we have experimented until it is good, and we made it crispy, but soft in the mouth – with all the flavour on top,” he says.
Pirate Pizza delivers Monday through Friday from 12:30pm to 2:30pm for lunch and Monday through Saturday from 5pm to 11pm. Contact: 023 210 950/ 070 523 091/ 070523 093 and online pirate-pizzas.com.