The team behind burger bar favourite Beef & Liberty quietly opened a new venture in late 2019, but this time focusing more on cheese than beef and subbing out soft buns for bready crusts. The new pizzeria, which came as the first in what turned out to be a spate of recent cheesy openings to bless our city, is located on the leafy 4th level of Pacific Place and proves a worthy addition to Hong Kong’s growing list of quality pizzerias.
The restaurant takes its name from an old type of awned wheat that has been used for centuries in baking, not least by the Romans who utilised it to delicious effect in a dense and nutritious type of ancient bread. The pizza chefs at Emmer today mix the grain with more commonly found flours for a crust that is satisfyingly substantial and bouncy, bearing a unique flavour that immediately sets it apart from that of your average greasy pizza joint. Yes, the guys here certainly know what they’re doing, and they make no bones about showing off all that they do with an open kitchen that allows unobstructed views of the rolling process and the sleek chrome pizza oven that dominates the space behind the counter.
To compliment the crust, Emmer keeps it simple by offering just six variations of toppings from Margherita ($98) to Marinara ($118). These are all exclusively rolled to 11 inches in order to make for quite the filling bite, especially when ordered on top of one of the starters, which include cultured nibbles like stracciatella and cold cuts priced around the $80 mark. As for the pizza toppings themselves, they are of good quality and plentiful, and make the Parma ($168) – piled with soft, genuine Italian mozzarella and prosciutto di parma all under a heap of fresh rocket – melt-in-your-mouth delicious, and the Funghi ($138) – with portobello, cremini, taleggio and parmigiano reggiano – a powerful fungal fantasia that will leave mushroom lovers wide eyed.
There aren’t really many negatives about this place, with perhaps the most confronting being the lack of restrooms within the establishment. Of course, this is mall eatery 101, but the fact that the restaurant’s entrance opens up onto a pedestrianised outdoor area seemingly separate from the mall makes every one of those 206 steps to the bathroom – yes, I counted – feel like like they have been cheated out of you, especially if one of the boozy cocktails (averaging around $90 and not bad value) has gotten the better of your bladder. The interior of the restaurant is modern, casual and, well, nice – as are the attentive and amicable waiting staff – but the place arguably misses that X factor that would elevate it to a truly memorable eating experience. Still, Emmer Pizzeria & Cafe is a reliable shout if you’re hankering for good pizza in stylish surroundings.