Back in the 1990s, other pizza outlets were still scarce in Jakarta. It was a challenge to get authentic Western cuisine for Indonesians and foreigners at that time.
Under one of the international hotel chains (present-day The Sultan Hotel and Residence) in Senayan, Central Jakarta, the hotel opened Pizzeria, an authentic Italian restaurant serving crispy, thin Italian pizzas accompanied by live music. It was an absolute favourite for guests staying at the hotel or whoever wished to drop by and get their taste buds treated to this appetising Italian delight.
Fast forward to August 9, 2020, The Sultan Hotel and Residence reintroduced Pizzeria. Boy was this ecstatically received! The hotel is attempting to lift the glory of Pizzeria afresh. Many people who have visited this restaurant in the past feel nostalgic revisiting it; they’re delighted and thankful to the hotel for reopening Pizzeria. The pizzas taste the same as they did years ago, plus with many innovations in the menu now.
Set outdoors at the hotel’s main tower compound, right at the Kudus Garden behind the Kudus Hall and newly-renovated infinity pool, you’ll walk to a garden with an irresistible water fountain in its centre. Pizzeria specifically has only outdoor seating which adheres to health protocols and physical distancing seating arrangement since people tend to be more comfortable and feel safer dining outdoors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This garden is compact. Surrounding the water fountain are wooden tables and chairs I’d someday like to have in my backyard for meals when the weather is nice and sunny, as well as a beach-like umbrella to shade each table, placed in a circle surrounding the water fountain that intersects the passageway to the Sultan Residence and ten o’clock direction to one of GBK’s gate. Each table has a candle as the area is only supported by dimmed lights as the sun sets – very romantic, very intimate amidst this green open space that gives off resort vibes.
Mandatory temperature checks are done upon your arrival. A hand wash station and hand sanitisers are available to be made use of before sitting. And since this is outdoors in a garden, in Indonesia, lots of mosquitoes roam around so please beware of nasty itches. Mosquito repellents are provided though, just ask the waiter.
The food, well, if you’re keen to have authentic pizzas and kinds of pasta not from a fast food joint, then Pizzeria is it. Pizzeria serves rustic Italian pizzas. Recipes are originally Italian, which Chef Andry learned from his previous culinary endeavour before taking charge in this restaurant. Therefore, the pizzas served are crispy and thin.
Chef Andry Stefanus did his research thoroughly. The menu, available on glossed paper or accessed through a QR scan code, is based on the former Pizzeria. The pizza itself is made from a special dough mixture, topped off according to the ordered variant of pizza, and then placed into an oven running on a temperature of 250 degrees Celsius. “We have a special oven that is this hot to get the best crispy, thin quality pizza,” said Chef Andry.
He also innovates with local flavours like the sambal dabu-dabu, a type of hot and spicy condiment commonly found in Manado cuisine, on Indonesia’s Independence Day, August 17. “Based on the Indonesian theme, we served this special sambal dabu-dabu pizza which had tomato, grilled chicken, turmeric, and sambal dabu-dabu,” explained Chef Andry. He’s also not shying away from incorporating more variants of toppings. He said he wants to create a pizza dish with wagyu and caviar, but not right now during COVID-19.
“So far, we’ve been making 20 pizzas per day,” he continued. The four best selling pizzas are The Carnivore (tomato sauce with bolognese beef ragout, beef pepperoni, beef sausage, and mozzarella cheese), the melting cheesy goodness Quattro Formaggi (tomato sauce and four types of cheeses: cheddar, blue cheese, ricotta, and mozzarella), the vegetarian-friendly Vegetariane (eggplant, zucchini, capsicums, onion, champignon mushroom, and mozzarella cheese), and the Mediterranean inspired Seafood Marinara (tomato sauce, mixed assorted seafood, and mozzarella cheese). Other pizzas available are the classic Margherita (tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and basil) and Barbecue Chicken (barbecue sauce, roast saffron chicken garlic, onion, mozzarella cheese, and fresh coriander leaf).
Yet Pizzeria’s kinds of pasta are highly rated as well. The pasta portions are huge, perfect to share or as the ultimate indulgence for that hungry person. The best-sellers are classics: Linguine Carbonara (linguine, smoked beef and egg yolk with cream and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese), Spaghetti Bolognaise (spaghetti with beef ragout and tomato sauce), and Fettuccini Fruti di Mare (fettuccine with assorted seafood and tomato sauce). Others include Spaghetti Pollo Fritto (spaghetti Aglio olio, cherry tomatoes, and crispy chicken) and the vegetarian-friendly Penne Vegetariane (penne with zucchini, eggplant, champignon mushroom, coriander leaf, and tomato). All kinds of pasta are topped off with a side of parmesan cheese so you can go wild with it.
Trying all of those highly recommended pizzas and kinds of pasta, each was created authentically without any Indonesian-Esque flavours added. Sometimes, we just want a legit Italian pizza and/or pasta tracking back to its authentic roots. My taste-buds were thrilled. The meaty Carnivore Pizza, Spaghetti Bolognaise, and Linguine Carbonara had an adequate amount of meats resulting in each bite of balanced carbs and proteins in thick sauces of cheesy goodness. The vegetarian and seafood options were still cheesy but tasted lighter as the toppings were nothing but vegetables or an array of seafood – again, balanced. And as for the quadruple cheese pizza, make sure to have it while it’s fresh out of the oven to get the melting sensation.
Have a side of salad or soup while you’re at it. Then end off your dinner with the adored chocolate fudge cake or apple pie, both come with vanilla ice cream on the side. Again, the desserts’ portions can be shared – if you’re not up to having a sugar overdose, but personally speaking, the desserts weren’t too sweet. To wash down these Italian delights, opt for a bottle or glass of white or red wine, beers, juices, hot or cold coffee and tea, mineral water, soft drinks, and spirits by glass.
Don’t expect a hefty cost for dinner. The price range is below Rp100,000 per dish during the pandemic. “People should eat good food without having to spend a fortune during this eerie time. Enjoy a sumptuous dinner date or dinner out with your family and/or friends while listening to a live DJ playing music from the 80s to the 2000s – depending on the crowd of customers present at that night,” said Chef Andry.
Only birthdays have been celebrated since Pizzeria’s opening. Not many events have been held, but these are always welcome while adhering to the new normal health protocols. Speaking of which, Pizzeria was unfortunately closed during the tight large-scale social restrictions (PSBB), even for delivery and takeaway. But since PSBB has loosened up, allowing restaurants and cafes to offer dine-in service within a 50 percent capacity once again, Pizzeria is happy to welcome Italian food connoisseurs back for dinner from Thursday to Saturday.
Are you excited to dine in at a restaurant again? Let Pizzeria at The Sultan Hotel and Residence be your next culinary expedition.