Spizza opens its 4th outlet strategically at the East of Singapore. (The other three are in the North, West and Central.) A minimalist, modern decor of whitewashed bricks and full glass panels and light wood furniture. We thought the decor is a missed opportunity for Spizza: it could have built a bar counter in front of the open kitchen so that children could have fun, sit and watch the chefs work the wood-fired oven, stylishly gilded with copper.
Many key ingredients, such as tomatoes, artichockes, mushroom, parma ham, and extra-virgin olive oil, are imported from Italy. The 26 pizzas, baked in an wood-fired oven, available in medium (10-inch) and large (12-inch), are named after female names from A to Z, running across the gamut of alphabet. It would be fun if the pastas were named after male names. (OMG do I get $50 for suggesting this to Spizza as a reward for employee’s benefit?)
The antipasto (or appetizer) kicked off with chef’s creation, portobello al forno ($12), two portobello mushrooms topped and baked with Bolognese sauce and Taleggio cheese. By all logic, mushrooms, cheese and minced-meat-tomato sauce are awesome companions but in this case, the mushroom and the topping didn’t integrate well and tasted like two separate entities. The mushroom gave off liquid when cooked and must have diluted the sauce and hence, the cheese which was supposed to be strong, almost as smelly as blue cheese, lost its flavor. That being said, the dish is large enough for a light lunch for small eaters.
The pastas are under-rated. You can customized your pasta with type of pasta, sauce and meat. There is dry pasta–those that come ready in a packet–but you’re better off going for handmade homemade fresh pasta such as pappardelle (the thick ribbon type), fettuccine (mee pok!), and a special flavor of the month. Isn’t honesty, telling the customer where the pasta comes from, so refreshing and endearing?
Homemade gnocchi (pronounced as knot-kee) with gorgonzola, cream and cooked ham ($17). Many people think gnocchi is a potato dumpling but the more accurate description is that potato is mixed into flour to make pasta and the pasta comes in a stone-like form, like a tang yuan. Gorgonzola is a type of blue cheese which is very strong, very pungent, very very salty and very creamy. I can understand the concept behind this dish: it aspires to be rich and filling, for people who like salty and heavy food, but I thought it was too salty and dense–I dislike potato in general unless they are deep-fried–and the overall texture, including the ham and gnocchi, was too chewy. I’d suggest putting in raw ham after the dish is cooked. Available for delivery.
Vegetarian option is available, replacing the ham with green peas ($16).
Every month, there is a handmade flavored pasta of the month ($17). This month, it is squid ink taglierini, made in-house, a thinner version of tagliatelle, a fatter version of spaghetti. A general compliment I have to pay for the pastas is they were very well tossed in the sauce so that every inch of every strand was coated.
Out of the three pastas we tried, this is my favorite pasta. It’s a running joke that I always order ink-squid pasta at an Italian restaurant because, you know what they say, once you go black, you’ll never go back. I’m pretty sure the saying is referring to ink-squid pastas. I mean, what else can it refer to, right?
So I have high standards for ink-squid and Spizza’s met my standards. The mussels were fresh, the prawns were fleshy and bouncy–felt very good putting the whole prawn in the mouth and letting it bounce off the teeth–but the squid was overcooked. The pasta was complex with inky taste of squid and two different types of distinct sweetness, the sweetness of seafood and sweetness of tomato-based sauce. I was so greedy I put a whole lump in my mouth and it was then that I could taste the slight inky stench of the squid–it’s usual for ink-squid pasta–but if you eat slowly, there shouldn’t be a smell. Overall, for $17, this is a pretty good deal. This dish should be a fixture on the menu, instead of just a flavor of the month.
We were fortunate enough to sample the Flavor Pasta for March for our food tasting and the PR told us we were the first to taste it! The slight greenness of the pasta comes from its spinach: spinach fettuccine with spicy pork tomato-based sauce and olives.
You can tell it’s homemade because of the rough and uneven edges. No bluff you one. It was slightly thicker than the usual fettuccine and was cooked al dente so that it was firm to the bite. Although it is named “spicy pork,” It tasted like salty non-spicy bak chor mee with a fragrance of olives. Even the texture reminds one of bak chor mee. I don’t know if the chef is inspired by the local dish but Sin Mod cuisine (Singapore modern cuisine) is the “in” thing these days and I won’t be surprised to find out he is. Fashionable chef, yo.
We took the leftover pastas home and guess what? The pastas, after being soaked in their sauces for a night, tasted great. The excess saltiness of the gnocchi was somewhat ameliorated, leaving behind a blue cheese-ness that was awesome.
Besides the Leaning Tower and Leonardo da Vinci, one of the icons of Italy is Venice, a floating city, a mystic city built on the sea, where it would vanish in 100 years. Many poets and novelists have written about the city. And of Venice, the most iconic item is probably the gondola, like a sampan, except the hunky gondoliers wear white-and-black tight tees, tight black pants, with red scarves around their necks and they serenade you with love songs along the waterways of Venice. It’s worth paying 60 Euros to ride on their gondolas.
I gave a long background because in theory, it is fun, exciting and intriguing to make a gondola-shaped pizza: Isabella in Gondola Shape (Medium $19, L $23). It differs from a calzone (a pizza folded in half, like a curry puff) in that the gondola pizza is more like a french loaf with mozzarella, imported parma ham and rocket on it. But in practice, the bread was hard, the ham was difficult to chew and not very tasty. The idea of a gondola pizza isn’t going to float (pun intended).
Every month, like the Special Pasta of the Month, there is also the Special Pizza of the Month which consists either a special dough or toppings. This month, the special dough is spinach dough, so the pizza looked greenish. The crust in general was cracker-thin and crispy. The added spinach was a nice touch, just a waft of spinach which added dimensions.
Rebecca (M – $18, L- $22) is the pizza equivalent of the previously mentioned gnocchi, with similar ingredients. It is a white pizza with mozzarella, gorgonzola, cooked ham, rockets and sun-dried tomatoes. The cheese was caramelized into the crust, which gave the pizza a good crunch but I’d only recommend this if you like pungent, salty cheeses. It seemed that the cheese overpowered the other ingredients and the cooked ham was chewy.
What I’d highly recommend is the bestseller Ursula (M – $19, L – $23), a tomato-based pizza with mascarpone, smoked salmon, and capers topped with spinach. Mascarpone is the cheese used in tiramisu and has the advantage of being creamy without being salty. The saltiness is already coming from the abundant smoked salmon. I asked the PR if this was the normal portion of salmon and she assured me it was. Worth the money! The generous portion of salty salmon, padded by the thin, crispy crust, with creamy cheese, sweetness from the tomato base and the fragrance of the herbs, made this pizza a clear winner. A well-balanced and complex pizza. Thumbs up.
Olive e vanilla ($7) is made in-house, using olive oil instead of butter, and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. In general, cakes that use olive oil is lighter than butter. This won’t be the best chocolate cake you have eaten in your life but there is nothing bad about it either.
Drinks: The PR ordered for us a passionfruit cooler ($4.50), a very refreshing drink of passionfruit and soda. You can see bits of passionfruit seeds and the pulp in the drink. I should have also tried the lemongrass ginger ice tea ($4.50); it sounds very thirst-quenching. Next time when I go back!
Because the pizzas are made fresh on ordering, you may have to wait a while.
Other information: The Piccolo Menu ($8.80) or kids menu comes with a small pasta or pizza, soft drink or juice and a scoop of ice cream.
Limited parallel parking along the road.
Spizza also delivers islandwide. You can call the hotline 6377 7773 or visit the online ordering portal. Delivery charges:
orders below $30 – delivery charge of $8
orders between $30 and $50 – charge of $3
orders above $50 – free
Additional $5 delivery charge on public holidays
Delivery hours (daily): 12pm-2.30pm and 6pm-10.30pm
Overall, there are some hits and misses. For the misses, it usually has to do with the saltiness of the cheese and I’d suggest you pair the dish with wine, which is available. Wine and blue cheese are a divine combination and I’m positive wine would improve the taste of dish. Or you can also wash down with a beer. Salty food goes very well with beers, and I think perhaps that’s why the chef makes some dishes salty. The hits, especially the Ursula pizza and pastas, are very value-for-money and can definitely be enjoyed on its own without alcohol.
217 East Coast Rd
T: 6440 8300
Other branches can be found at Club Street, Balmoral Plaza (at Bukit Timah) and Jalan Kayu.
Takeaways available at Havelock Rd and Pandan Loop.
M-F: 12pm-2.30pm; 6pm-10.30pm
S & S: 11am-10.30pm
Rating: 3.167/ 5 stars
PS: We thank Shauna and Spizza for hosting us.