Ellie Dyer and photographer Conor Wall find a taste of New York near to the capital’s Russian Market at Brooklyn Pizza.
The sweltering streets of Phnom Penh and polar-vortexed New York may be worlds apart, but new restaurant on the block, Brooklyn Pizza + Bistro, doesn’t mind.
The glass-fronted eatery near Russian Market is determined to bring a taste of the five boroughs to the Cambodian capital. And although the simply decorated interior, featuring a tiled floor with yellow walls and touches of red and orange, may not scream New York hipster-ville, it’s the themed menu that is doing the talking.
‘Williamsburg’ and ‘Godfather’ pizzas grace the menu alongside BBQ ribs and wings and an ‘Ellis Island’ salad, making it clear that nothing less than good-old American indulgence is appropriate in this corner of Brooklyn.
Embracing the concept, we kicked off with the excellent buffalo-style wings ($4.99 for six). Thanks to the two-day production process, the battered chicken was crispy on the outside with a delightfully tender interior. The orange glaze was pleasingly tangy, with a slight kick that left you wanting more, especially when tempered by a free side of cut vegetables with a creamy dipping sauce.
Next came a pulled-pork sandwich on a sesame brioche bun ($5.50). A zingy barbeque sauce complemented the mass of succulent meat, though its intense flavour slightly overpowered the accompanying coleslaw topping. But overall, given that pulled pork is a rarity in the capital, it was a triumph.
To most eyes, the centre-point of American cuisine is the humble burger, so we ordered a Royale with cheese ($6.50). Consisting of a generous patty topped with caramelised onion and cheddar, plus a side of rosemary fries, it was a homely take on the national dish, though I found the meat a little dry for my taste.
With a vegetarian on board, we also opted for the ‘Stella’ pizza, topped with mozzarella, feta, roasted garlic and mushroom ($8.90 for a large). Although good in terms of size, toppings and crust, it somehow lacked the spark of Brooklyn’s earlier dishes. The sparkle returned with a vengeance with our final dish – a massive slice of cheesecake topped with passion fruit coulis ($2.95). It was New York on a plate, with a dose of acidic passion fruit and a clever touch of lemon cutting through a rich and indulgent interior.
During our lunch, the owner told us that Brooklyn will soon expand, with an adjoining New York-style deli set to open later this year. I think this is where Brooklyn Pizza could really excel. The raw ingredient – indulgent comfort food – is right on the money, but the addition of an extra dose of New York pizzazz could take it to the next level.
20 Street 123, Phnom Penh.
Tel: 089 925 926.