The queues that regularly form outside Pizzeria Oggi, which opened three months ago, speak volumes about the effort and forethought that went into the restaurant.
One of Pizzeria Oggi’s main attractions becomes apparent before entering the building: through the storefront window a group of men, all wearing immaculate chef whites, can be seen working the large wood-fired oven in the restaurant’s open-plan kitchen.
Leading the pack is proprietor, renowned chef and cookbook author Tom Hsieh (謝宜榮), whose resume includes stints at several five-star hotels in Taipei.
His newest gastronomic venture boasts a simple, well laid-out menu featuring two types of pies: thin crust Roman pizzas and Neapolitan pizzas.
Authenticity tops Hsieh’s list of ingredients for a successful restaurant. The oven, which is fueled by acacia wood, was built by the family-run Acunto Forni company of Naples, and the pizza dough is made with premium flour from Italy’s Molino Caputo, said to be one of the world’s best pizza flour makers. Food critics and bloggers have been raving about the chef’s plan to become the country’s first pizzeria to be certificated by the Vera Pizza Napoletana Association in Naples.
But does the food live up to the hype? We tried the restaurant’s signature Napoli pizza, which was topped with mozzarella, prosciutto, Grana Padano and arugula (NT$530), and were instantly won over by the union of the meat’s saltiness and the fresh arugula’s nutty and bitter flavors. A couple of drops of balsamic vinegar take the edge off the rocket’s bitter notes and add a whole new dimension to the pie. Equally as pleasing as the toppings was the springy and chewy Neapolitan crust, which is baked at a higher temperature and more quickly than its Roman cousin.
Address: 19 Dexing W Rd, Taipei City (台北市德行西路19號)
Telephone: (02) 2834-3886
Open: Daily from 11:30am to 9:30pm
Average meal: NT$600
Details: Menu in English and Chinese, credit cards accepted
On the Net: www.pizzeria-oggi.com
From the Neapolitan section, the efficient waitstaff recommends the quattro formaggio (NT$420), which is topped with fresh mozzarella, pepper jack, gorgonzola, smoked cheese, walnut and honey. A more innovative topping combination is the smoked duck with mozzarella and spring onion from Yilan (NT$390).
From the selection of Roman pizzas, we picked the Bologna sausage version with anchovy, Danish mozzarella, black olives, bell pepper and onion (NT$450), but found the thin crust quickly became soggy, and the anchovies weren’t distributed evenly. A popular choice from the Roman selection is the Hawaiian (NT$350), topped with Danish mozzarella, ham, black olive, onion and homemade dried pineapple.
Though the pizzas demand star billing, Hsieh’s exciting antipasti offerings shouldn’t be overlooked. The dish of mushrooms with balsamic vinegar and olive oil (NT$160) is tantalizingly aromatic, and the prosciutto with locally grown figs (NT$250) strikes a stimulating salty-sweet savor.
The pizzeria stocks a selection of drinks that includes bottled Belgian, Italian and Japanese brews (NT$120 to NT$200), honey with fig vinegar (NT$100), and Lambrusco (NT$600 per bottle).
With its cozy interior, Pizzeria Oggi is a good choice for catching up with friends over a satisfying and relaxing meal. The restaurant is located near the intersection of Dexing West Road (德行西路) and Zhongshan North Road (中山北路).