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Opened at the tail end of last year, we hadn’t had the chance to try PALA in Wanchai until now, due to seemingly never-ending COVID restrictions.
A self-dubbed street-food pizzeria, PALA’s claim to fame is that its artisanal pizza dough is fermented for a whopping 72 hours. Run by a chef who was raised in Rome, PALA serves both classic 12-inch round pizzas and smaller pizza alla pala, translated as “paddle pizza”, pizza squares originating in Rome that are served on long-handled wooden boards. These pizzas are made with a highly hydrated dough (about 80% water) and baked quickly in an electric oven at a high temperature.
For our lunch tasting, we sat in the outdoor courtyard (note: you must go inside the shop to order). We could envision ourselves whiling away the afternoon in this tranquil, quiet space.
There are also eight café-style seats inside: one table for four and four window seats.
There are 15 pizzas on offer, with six available as a pala option (one chunky piece cut into four). We tried – from top to bottom – the carbonara ($47), ortolana ($43), margherita ($40) and arrabbiata ($48). The toppings are all fresh and very generous, particularly the heavy-duty layer of cheese on each. Our favourite was the arrabbiata for its spice factor – spicy salami amped up with homemade spicy olive oil and chopped fresh chilli. The ortolana is a vegan pizza option, and the PALA team tell us they’re planning on adding more vegetarian and vegan pizza options in the near future.
If you’re looking for a crisp, thin pizza, pizza alla pala is definitely not this. It’s much doughier and denser than the traditional pizza crusts most of us are accustomed to. For us, the carbonara pizza was just too rich owing to both the heavy base and the toppings of pancetta, bacon, three types of cheese (fior di latte, mozzarella, Pecorino) and egg yolk. We had to give our slices a double dose of chilli oil and chilli flakes on top to counteract the richness.
To give ourselves a better comparison, we later arranged for a delivery of PALA’s 12-inch round pizza. This margherita ($90) is such a great-value pie! We couldn’t get enough of the fresh tomato sauce – the essence of tomato – and the thick layer of fior di latte cheese. Unlike the pizza alla pale, this is a thin-crust pizza with a very crunchy base.
We clocked several panini being ordered at other tables, so we knew we had to take one for the team. The classica panini ($49) is a stunner (we’d order it over the pizza alla pala). The thin pizza bread is light – just what’s needed for this sarnie that’s absolutely stuffed with Parma ham, fior di latte, the sweetest ever Roma tomatoes and homemade pesto. The amount of cheese used is simply incredible!
The antipasti platters being whisked out also looked very tempting – particularly the mixed platter with Italian cold cuts and burrata ($240) – so we’ll definitely be back to check out one of those with a glass of wine in hand. These platters looked ample enough for two or three diners to share.
To balance our carb overload, we ordered this beautiful caprese salad ($59). We all know the drill with caprese – the Italian staple of mozzarella, tomato and basil – but this one was a better rendition than most owing to the high-quality ingredients. In Italy, it’s all about using the best ingredients, though they may be simple, to create out-of-this-world flavours.
PALA’s tiramisu ($42) is just how we like it – creamy, not overly sweet, intense on the espresso.
We’ll also be back to try the daily happy from 3–7pm, where selected drinks are priced at just $48 and come with complimentary mini pizza slices. Currently, because of COVID restrictions, the happy-hour drinks are limited to mocktails, but these alcohol-free numbers are deliciously fruity and refreshing. We tried two pretty mocktails, Sunset Cooler (left; cranberry juice, orange juice, lime juice, ginger ale) and Sangria Miamore (right; minced fresh fruit, pomegranate juice, orange juice, cranberry juice).
PALA is a super little independent pizzeria in Wanchai with friendly, cheerful service and a lovely outdoor courtyard. It’s not only the pizzas that are recommended here, but the salads, panini and antipasti platters too.
The price of the monthly set lunch ($118 for 2 courses or $148 for 3 courses) can’t be beat – it even comes with a drink, vino included.
PALA also offers catering packages at reasonable prices – what about a pizza party for eight of your nearest and dearest for just $800?
7–10 Amoy Street, Wanchai, 6979 1332
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.
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