New Yorkers have their quintessential pizza slice (triangular and handheld, with low-moisture mozzarella and an even cheese-to-tomato sauce ratio); and Chicago has their deep-dish pie (bulky, medium crust with supremely thick layers of cheese and fillings); but when we’re craving the holy trinity of mozzarella, tomato sauce and basil — all on a deliciously chewy and crisp dough — there’s only one pizza we care to eat: Neapolitan.
There’s something utterly craveable about Neapolitan-style pizza: the puffy cornicione (the pie’s outer lip) blistered in a ferociously hot wood-fired oven, giving way to a floppy centre which needs little more than a sparse topping of high quality tomatoes and melty mozzarella. Hong Kong has a handful of places that do a decent Neapolitan-style pie, but very few, if any, that truly transcend the realms of pizza perfection. Recently, a pizzeria (or an upscale full-service restaurant that happens to just serve pizzas, rather) has popped up on Wyndham Street, helmed by the preeminent pizzaiolo Franco Pepe, who’s topped the 50 Top Pizza list (modelled after 50 Best Restaurants) for both years since it debuted in 2017. But we weren’t to be so easily convinced: A little skepticism is handy in a town that has a history with imported concepts that under-deliver, buoyed by some big-name chef slapping a name on a brand from halfway around the world.
Luckily, it’s good news for all pizza fans out there: We had an exclusive first taste of newcomer Kytaly and can confidently report that all the awards and accolades — not to mention all the fanatical endorsements by top global food critics — are unbiased in their assertions. Beyond the shadow of a doubt, Kytaly serves the best pizza to be had in Hong Kong right now.
It starts with the dough: Pepe’s proprietary blend based on 70% water content, which allows for the crust to rise a good 3–4 inches in the oven yet still be almost hollow inside, save for a few pliable strands that stretch from one side of the crust’s inner cavern to the other. The outer lip springs back brilliantly thanks to the strong gluten network, boasting delicious pockets of blistered bubbles on the surface while breaking open into a warm, all-enveloping yeasty aroma. With a shiny, caramelised top from a brush of olive oil, it’s one of the loveliest, puffiest crusts we’ve ever seen: a thing of pure carb perfection.
Then there are the ingredients: Every topping is of the highest quality sourced from around the region of Caiazzo (some 30 miles north of Naples), home of the original Pepe in Grani restaurant. As a proponent of the Kilometre Zero movement (Km 0), Pepe sources only from nearby suppliers, from the tuna to the anchovies — even ditching exalted San Marzano tomatoes for the local Riccio variety. Every single ingredient used in Kytaly Hong Kong is flown in from Italy, meaning the pizzas (19 in total) are made with exacting measures to replicate the original Pepe pizzas. Pair this with the creative toppings combinations and you’re on a straight highway to pizza heaven.
Sadly, this is no humble slice: prices range from $200–$300 per pizza, which beats even the more pricier pizzerias in town. And while we’d love to tell you that it’s big enough to share, the whole point of the feathery dough and the smaller circumference of classic Neapolitan pizza is to facilitate the one pizza per person rule, allowing you to have a whole delicious pie to yourself and still make it out the door.
All that being said, Kytaly is truly a mecca for the most devoted of pizza aficionados. Below, see the top five pizzas we tried.