Phnom Penh Restaurant Reviews: Dolce ItaliaMarch 7, 2012
Tough life here in the big city: Which rooftop pool bar should we go to? Italian or Sushi for dinner? Can you recommend a good driver? Blah blah. Back home I paid an obscene amount of money to share a tiny 3 bedroom apartment with failed actors / caterers with drug dealers downstairs, long subway commutes, miserable weather, work and school for 18 hours a day, blah blah.
But then New York has an abundance of amazing attributes, one of which is pizza. Over here the living is easy but news of a new pizza place is still cause for excitement and endless discussion -which brought us to Dolce Italia last Tuesday, the newest offering from the owner of beloved Pop Café on the riverside.
Without further ado: the pizza. Flavors were amazing and dead on, as was expected. You don’t become one of the city’s best loved Italian joints unless you know what you’re doing and deliver. The Michele pizza – rocket, cherry tomatoes, shrimp and green olives – was light and refreshing, all the ingredients were very fresh and tasted great, a nice option if you want something lighter.
The Quattro Stagioni had mushrooms, Italian ham, Salame Napoli, basil, black olives and anchovies. All the ingredients led to an overdose of saltiness, but the meat and basil combination was lovely and the hot salame was a nice change from the usual meat offerings.
The downsides: the oil – tons of it. They’re giving BP a run for their money on the spillage front. I didn’t feel like it added anything to the dish, but supposedly this is the traditional Napolitano style. However, I felt it made the whole thing rather heavy and a bit soggy. Also I detest sweetness in sauces and prefer salty, but the sauce was a tad over salty for me. Crust was soft, which I like, but if you fancy that thin, burnt oven-style crust you will be disappointed. I’ve never been to a place where you cut the pizza yourself. Not the worst hardship, but I suppose that’s how it’s done in the mother country, but then again who cares. Made eating a sharing a bit difficult, but I didn’t mind that much in the end.
Other highlights: fresh, homemade bread made with Semolina flour was great, a wonderful touch that added a lot to the overall experience.
Huge portions. Two of us ordered 2 starters and 2 pizzas and couldn’t finish any of the dishes, so go hungry. Or you can enjoy the other breakfast of champions, cold pizza. Prices are reasonable (around $10 for pizza, $5 for starters, $20 for a nice bottle of wine), so nice value.
The bruschetta was enormous, five huge slabs of bread, each about the size of my hand loaded with fresh tomatoes, basil and garlic. Tangy with a good dose of salt and pepper, these were excellent though we couldn’t finish.
The Involtinidi Melanzane featured eggplant, mozzarella, tomatoes, parmesan and basil and it tasted great but the thick tomato sauce was a tad salty, and the melted cheese weighed the whole thing down and made it quite heavy. The flavors were nice, but it was hard to eat more than a few bites.
The décor is lovely, a quiet, frosty air conditioned dining room downstairs, with glass doors so you can watch the chef at work, and a breezy al fresco tiled deck upstairs for a more relaxed vibe. Like Pop, it was packed with a nice mix of expats and locals when we visited, and it seems like this will be the main clientele. Add a bottle of crisp, dry Pinot Grigio and you’ve got a good night.
Sotheros Blvd, Phnom Penh (near the Hong Kong Center and opposite the Vietnamese war memorial)
Cuisine – Italian
Prices – Approx $60 for two including a bottle of wine, two starters and two pizzas