“We are the deviants to what is commercial.”
I am speaking to Chef Emman Galvez who sits across from me on a metal stool. His managing partner, Mrs. Isabel Co, is herem as well, and we talk for hours about both pizza and life. It is a cold, wet day in Metro Manila and just like in any good meeting, there is soft jazz on the speakers, warm lights above our heads, and sweet coffee on the table.
From L-R: Mr. Edward Co, Mrs. Isabel Co, and Chef Emman Galvez
A cappuccino kind of morning.
I ask Chef to elaborate on what he means by this. How can something as classic as pizza be deviant from anything? But my mouth shuts itself as the waiters carry out six full pizzas placed carefully on wooden boards. They come in an array of colors that include beetroot red, squid ink black, and chocolate brown.
Just moments ago, Chef Emman himself had grilled the squid ink pizza dough, torching the cheese atop it until it bubbled furiously and deliciously, topping it off with arugula and proscuitto afterwards to add a couple pops of color. It is a fascinating process to watch from behind the glass at the front of the room – a process, I must say, that can only be witnessed in Pizza Grigliata.
Chef Emman Galvez prepares your pizza right before our very eyes! Behold, Manila’s first and only torched, grilled pizza.
No other restaurant does it the way Pizza Grigliata does it. Lovingly handmade from scratch everyday, Pizza Grigliata boasts of a distinctive menu that is currently unmatched by any other pizzeria, offering torched, grilled pizza. What else can you expect from the winners of the 2017 Ultimate Taste Test?
Originally a food cart that quickly overtook the local bazaar scene, Pizza Grigliata has stretched on to become both a catering service and a local restaurant. And I must say: it is a strong contender to be a landmark eatery in my beloved Greenhills. Why? Exactly because of their own deviation.
The first thing you’ll notice about Pizza Grigliata is that their pizza doesn’t have your typical thin crust. It is instead a Roman style pizza that leaves you feeling less bloated. It is about the flavor, after all, and not the bread. It is, quite literally, pizza made sexy.
And while other pizzerias take pride in importing their products, this restaurant chooses only to work with local produce, sourcing their coffee from Sagada, Sultan Kudarat, and Bukidnon, to ensure optimum freshness, their goal bringing this classic Italian/American dish home to us.
Last but not least, the biggest and best deviation Pizza Grigliata has to offer is the pizza flavors themselves. Where else can you get pizza on squid ink dough? If you’re trying to live a little healthier, go for either the Spanish Sardines in Beetroot Dough pizza, the Shrimp and Asparagus in Carrot Dough pizza, or the Spinach and Pesto in Squash Dough pizza. All of these pair well with their honey chili sauce, a mixture that Chef Emman had described to us as “butterball candy for grownups”.
Prosciutto Arugula Pizza on Squid Ink Dough (P400)
Spinach and Pesto in Squash Dough Pizza (P280) and Spanish Sardines in Beetroot Dough Pizza (P320)
Diners with more traditional tastes may opt for the Quattro Formaggi Pizza with Truffle Oil, which is topped with two cheese sauces, bleu cheese, mozzarella, and parmesan. Not only does it go well with wine, but it also won first place in the Ultimate Taste Test, garnering an astonishing 99.8 rating in the finals.
Other favorites include the Tequila Lime Chicken Pizza. Originally a recipe made specially for a Cinco de Mayo birthday celebrant, the Tequila Lime Chicken is a zesty blend of Mexican-inspired flavors with an extra kick.
Also known as the 99.8 Pizza, the Quattro Formaggi Pizza with Truffle Oil won last year’s Ultimate Taste Test (320)
A s’mores dessert pizza is also available. Topped with Nutella, graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate chips, it’s the perfect way to end a meal.
S’mores Pizza (360)
Of course, for us, the meal was yet to end. Because the pizzas aren’t the type to bloat, there is more to follow. Their signature salad, for example: a wonderful take on your typical Caprese salad that has oranges and tomatoes on a bed of pesto, drizzled with honey and topped with cottage cheese.
Signature Salad (P350)
A sausage platter follows – great pulutan to go with the craft beer available on their bar menu: Schublig, Hungarian and Italian sausage served with carrots and celery, paired with both garlic aioli and ketchup dip.
Drinks are to follow after ordering the Sausage Platter! (P380)
The fried garlic parmesan chicken wings follow and they are my new favorites. Although they aren’t necessarily the piece de resistance of the restaurant, they are definitely a must-try. Just thinking about that crispy chicken skin has me drooling for more.
My favorite dish! Not necessarily what you come to Pizza Grigliata for, but it’s what makes you want to come back. (P380)
Of course, no Italian-inspired restaurant is complete without pasta. Perfectly al dente, both the penne of the Pomodoro and the spaghetti in the Spicy Garlic Sardines are a wonderful way to spend your calories.
Spicy Garlic Sardines (P350)
A sweet compromise between the creative and the comfortable, Pizza Grigliata specialises in flavor that takes you home. “We aren’t after your money,” Isabel says, shrugging her shoulders. “We want to offer the full experience.” I believe her completely.
There’s something comforting about the place, after all: Greenhills, the home of my childhood, the comforting smell of cappuccino on the coffeemaker. And there’s something exciting as well, brewing there beyond the kitchen: two creative and entrepreneurial minds at work. It is the best way to celebrate freshness, both in the ingredients of the food and in the ideas they have to offer.
The magic of Pizza Grigliata, I believe, is in the creativity that lies behind its concept. Whether you’re pulling the pizza out of the pie by hand or stabbing it with a fork, you’ll be sure to love every bite. These aren’t your usual pizzas after all.
With more plans in the future to change up their menu every few months, you can bet that there will be more exciting flavors to come. And if you’re looking to throw the perfect party, you should definitely hit them up. You never know, you might just inspire a new flavor for the Pizza Grigliata menu.
2/F 8 Missouri St, San Juan
Open for catering: 0917 549 7310