We went into Franco Pepe’s first Hong Kong restaurant Kytaly with pretty high expectations. The chef’s got some impressive accolades, including winning the top spot in the 2018 ‘Top 50 Best Pizzas in Italy’ list, for his restaurant Pepe in Grani, and the title for “The Best Pizza in the World” in 2016.
As we walked into Kytaly, everything about it screamed ‘brunch patio porn’: the cozy dark blue interior, comfortable leather booths, the spacious terrace overlooking Tai Kwun, and a group of glamorous-looking, loud-talking moms on the table next to us, moaning about their husbands, the school run, and not having enough money to spend (for real?).
We started the meal with the Amalfi (HK$170 as an appetizer or HK$270 as a main course), a green salad with tuna, anchovies, olives, capers, sun dried tomatoes, oregano crostini, and extra virgin olive oil. Perfectly balanced flavors and oil to vinegar ratios — delicious. Not too oily, not too salty.
But about that pizza. Let’s begin with the pizza that won that “Best Pizza in the World” accolade in 2016, the Margherita Sbagliata (HK$200).
Made using buffalo mozzarella, tomato, reduction of basil and extra virgin olive oil, it’s Kytaly’s take on the classic Neapolitan pizza, simple, and with so few ingredients there isn’t a lot for it to hide behind.
What immediately struck us about the pizza was how light the crust was. We were told that the pizza dough itself is made up of about 70 percent water. The result is a pizza base with a soft and pillowy pizza crust, topped with pillowy buffalo mozzarella that doesn’t leave you feeling too uncomfortable and bloated at the start of the meal.
Definitely one of the best pizzas you can eat in Hong Kong. The HK$200 price tag? We were wary at first. Now… our defenses are down. Let’s see what else they’ve got.
The Calzone “Il Casolare” (HK$280) is made with three types of cheese — buffalo mozzarella, ricotta, and scamorza — plus, salami of Black Casertano pig, pepper, tomato, and extra virgin olive oil. Very filling, very heavy — just as a good calzone should be.
The calzone shell had a wonderfully crisp exterior, but it was also a little bit thin. We would have appreciated a bit more of that carb-y base to soak up all that rich cheese oozing out with each bite.
If we hadn’t eaten the first pizza and salad, the experience probably would have been a lot more pleasant, and finishing just one half of the calzone was a struggle. But that said, this is definitely good enough for a visit just to have on its own.
Another one of the stars on Kytaly’s pizza menu: the Alletterata (HK$300). Toppings include flakes of tuna alletterato, buffalo mozzarella, ice-cooked celery, extra virgin olive oil, and Kytaly’s signature Alife onion cream.
A very rich and flavorful pizza — the celery was a nice touch, and we were surprised at how sweet the onion cream was. After a couple of bites, however, the onion cream does become overpowering. The taste of the tuna starts to dissipate into the background. Unless you love that sweet onion cream, this one’s going to be a bit hard to eat all the way through without feeling like that flavor profile gets a bit monotonous.
And, of course, the restaurant has tiramisu. The Tiramisu “Classico” (HK$120) was a straight-forward take on the classic tiramisu, dangerously moreish and not overpoweringly sweet.
We particularly loved the thick and creamy mascarpone cream, which was neither too watery nor too sweet — though, we would have been more into it if the coffee flavors were more pronounced.
Overall, great pizzas all around — and you can taste the really good quality of the ingredients that go into and on top of each pie.
The pizzas on the menu range from HK$120 to HK$300 (gasp) each — if you’re turned off by that price point, we can’t really fault you for it. We here at Coconuts HK are pretty partial to slice of Paisano’s pizza after a night out in LKF, and that’s just a three-minute walk away from Kytaly. But would we also be down to pay the extra HK$100 to get a really damn good pizza every once in awhile? Yes. Yes, we would.
The place itself feels a bit more upscale, which some pizza fanatics will feel is silly — but if you’re the kind of person who’s down to drop some dough on ‘fancy’ pizza, then Kytaly is a great spot for that.
Kytaly is at 5/F 77 Wyndham Street, Central
Reservations: +852 2808 1961
Mon-Sat, 12pm-2am; closed on Sun
MTR: Central (approx. 5 minute walk)