Decor: The inside of the shop is the kitchen while the tables and chairs are all outdoor (as shown in the photos above). The server didn’t know I was here for the food tasting and she eagerly said, “Do you want to see the kitchen? Come in!” That’s honesty for you! Don’t you love honest eateries? You walk into the kitchen, and everything is displayed: the ingredients, the tomatoes, the oven, and how they make the pizzas. No secrets, no gimmicks, just natural and fresh ingredients. AWESOME.
The best natural and fresh ingredients are imported from all over the world: organic tomatoes from California; salami from France; flour from Italy. Extra Virgin Pizza went through great lengths just to get the flour. They had to order 50 tons to establish good relations with the Italians and store the flour in a temperature-controlled warehouse.
The ingredients are not the only ones that needed to be found. The bosses of Extra Virgin Pizza traveled the world–from Europe to America–just to find the perfect executive chef, Chef Matthew White, who has worked in Europe and Michelin-starred restaurants and has a diverse background of pizza-making and fine French cuisine.
Chef White said to me, “I told the bosses, if we are going to go this, we must do it in the best way. Can we get a Wood Stone Oven?” [The same oven is used in Pizzeria Mozza at MBS.]
The bosses replied, “Why get one? Get two!” The amazing thing about Wood Stone Oven is it goes up to 500 degrees, so the pizza is cooked within 2 minutes. Chef White said that precision is key: he only has a ten-second grace: pull out the pizza 10s earlier, it’s undercooked; 10s too late, it’s charred. The amazing thing about the oven is that the taste and the juiciness of the food are retained and sealed in by the high heat.
Another anecdote Chef White told is they actually tested pH of Singapore’s chlorinated, fluorinated water. After getting all the ingredients from all over the world, Chef White worried that the pH of the water would affect the taste of the crust — let’s see if the water has affected the taste!
The menu isn’t extensive but it is focused. For starters, Chef White recommended the Salami & Cheese Board ($22). I wanted to tell him that eating cheese is a very Western thing; Singaporeans don’t usually eat cheese for starters. So we picked Veal & Ricotta Meatball ($15) and oven-fired clams in garlic, butter and white wine sauce ($18).
We love balls and we cannot lie. The meatballs were a lighter color and a lighter taste because of veal, so that they didn’t get excessive and heavy like Ikea meatballs. The choice of cheese (Provolone) provided a distinct smelly cheese taste–not for people who dislike cheese–while the minty, peppery basil gave the balls a kick.
My eating partner said the clams, which are delivered freshly every few days, were a surprise since pizzerias have no use for clams. He seemed to like it but I can’t say I do. The bread was crispy but also tough. The entire dish had a very “clammy” taste, too intense, too smelly sea-shelly for me. My critique of both starters is that they were both greasy although the portions were very generous.
The spicy pepperoni pizza ($22) arrived first and after a first bite, I said to my partner, “OMG OMG, it’s so good.”
The crust (for pizzas across the board) was AMAZING. It was crunchy like potato chips, like an apple. Every bite you bite into it, the sound of the crunch reverberates within your soul. The texture was amazing for a second reason: the crust was smooth and airy but there was a grainy substance–semolina?–scattered on it to provide an interesting contrast. For the third reason, the crust was charred. They are actually called “leopard spots” which are characteristic of authentic Neapolitan pizzas. The “leopard spots” provided such an interesting variation–and plus I loved charred food. Usually pizza crust tastes monotonous like this: —– but Extra Virgin’s crust tasted like this: –^-^–. Besides the texture, the taste was very savory–one of the best crusts I’ve eaten–sweetened naturally from the flour and high heat.
The organic tomatoes imported from California on the spicy pepperoni pizza were extremely fresh. At first, when I didn’t know the origin of the tomato, I bit into it and exclaimed, “OMG, they bottled sunshine. The tomatoes tasted like a burst of sunshine.” There was also mozzarella on the pizza, which after the high heat, seemed to transfigure into a sweet milk powder substance. My only complaint is the spicy pepperoni, imported from France, wasn’t fierce enough. But still, spicy, tomatoey, and creamy made a very excellent pizza.
Then came the vegetarian pizza, Pistachio Pizza ($24), eat already very chio. Get it? Pista-chio? I am a carnivore, how good can a vegetarian pizza get right? If the spicy pepperoni was amazing, the Pistachio is an alien… out of this world. There was surely magic involved. The combination of pistachio pesto, mozzarella, and parmesan caramelized in the high heat, giving off a mind-blowing, unbelievable taste–it tasted almost like the skin of very good BBQ chicken wings. It’s guilt-free BBQ chicken skin!! The bitter raw arugula and zesty lemon vinaigrette added after the oven added awesome dimensions to the BBQ chicken skin, providing layers and layers of different tastes. We were truly blown away by this perfect pizza.
My partner was praying, “After such delectable pizzas, please please please let the desserts be good.” Well, both the tiramisu ($8) and nutella panna cotta ($8) were competent. The nutella panna cotta was… I dunno.. like that lor. So-so, not particularly good but not bad either.
It wasn’t fair for me to comment on the tiramisu because I just had one of the best tiramisus in Singapore the day before coming to Extra Virgin. The cream cheese–mascarpone–was actually comparable to this best tiramisu, rich enough, but the sponge was not soft. It would be nice if they soak the sponge in rum. As it is, this tiramisu is alcohol-free.
Recap: Yumyumformytumtum and I both opine that Peperoni Pizza may be the best pizza in Singapore but now I no longer think so. Extra Virgin may possibly win that spot. It is going to knock your socks off. It is going to be sensational. Delivery will start in early 2012. I wish one day they do island-wide delivery.
Directions: How to get to Asia Square. Asia Square is so new its postal code isn’t even on gothere.sg. This is the same building as Google, which I wrote an entry on the lunch buffet Google has for the staff. If you’re taking public transport, Asia Square is diagonally across from Lau Pa Sat. Asia Square is behind One Shenton Way Building. If you’re driving down Collyer Quay, keep left, turn left into a very, very small lane just after Lau Pa Sat, just before One Shenton. There is a small sign pointing “Asia Square.”
Extra Virgin Pizza
8 Marina View #01-04, Asia Square Tower 1, Singapore 018960
T: 6247 5757
M-F: 7am-11am (breakfast), M-Sat: 11am-11pm (lunch & dinner), Closed on Sunday
Rating: 4.178/ 5 Wood Stone Ovens
ps: I’d like to thank Cheryl and Matthew White for hosting us.