Phnom Penh Restaurant Reviews: Dolce Italia

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.

Pajama Moto

Dolce Italia
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

13 thoughts on “Phnom Penh Restaurant Reviews: Dolce Italia

  1. giblet Reply

    So, what do you think? Is this the best pizza in town or not? Doesn’t sound perfect but since most of the other contenders have a sweet tomato base, I’m ready to give this one a try.

  2. SunSan Reply

    Sounds like it really is the best pizza in town. Oily, rocket salad, olives, heavy. Good for me.

  3. ribblerat Reply

    Sounds the perfect place for a Birthday meal or a similar occasion. Yes I most certainly give it a whirl for a special occasion.

  4. Cambod Reply

    La Dolce Vida is NOT on Sotheros Bvd. U need to get the name right! It’s Dolce Italia that u are talking about…. La Dolce Vida is on Street 172… Come one…

  5. Cambod Reply

    The Blue Dolphin has the best American Deep Dish pizzas…. Comes with garlic butter sauce….

  6. Typhoon Reply

    I thought it was awesome despite the oil, portions were huge too…I did manage to finish mine though!

  7. Adam Reply

    I was a regular at Pop Cafe until the day after this place opened (which is closer for me) – can always get a table now (no booking required every time I’ve been). The food is slightly different from it’s sister restaurant and sadly no specials yet, I’m not too fussed when the standard menu is this good. The sharing pizza ($16 if I remember rightly) is great, especially if you’ve got a couple of girls in the group who struggle to eat a pizza to themselves, though I usually appreciate that as I’ll order a pasta-based dish and get some pizza for dessert! Wine selection isn’t bad, lots of parmesan on offer thankfully, proper stuff too, as well as the usual great chilli oil.

  8. rogerwilco Reply

    Both times I tried to eat at Dolce Italia I could hear the owner in the kitchen screaming at the waitresses.
    I don’t care how good the food is, it is very difficult to enjoy a meal while the owner insults and berates his staff.

    The pizza crust is very soft and chewy. A smallish pizza for about $10. I was not impressed.

  9. John Reply

    Best pizza I have had in SE Asia by far; also great pastas. My goto Italian whenever I’m visiting Phnom Penh.

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