We were looking for a new dining establishment to celebrate my travel buddie’s birthday since we are not able to travel this year and the name Lucali instantly came up. As the new kid on the block, Lucali has only been in business in Singapore since June and is highly rated as the number 1 pizza in NYC with huge names like Jay-Z and Beyoncé dining at the Brooklyn outlet. The main Brooklyn restaurant has its fair share of long queues, Instagram pictures by celebrities and was even featured in Netflix’s Series “Ugly Delicious”. A collaboration between Gibran Baydoun and Mark Iacono, do not expect to get a table if you decide to just walk in. Most diners make a reservation weeks ahead.
We managed to get a table on Saturday afternoon as our friend made reservations 4 weeks in advance. Located at Kampung Bugis, at first glance, the building looks pretty deserted and industrial. If not for this colourful wall mural where the name Lucali could be seen, we would probably be searching around
As you exit the lift at level M, you are greeted by this huge lighted signboard which is actually an overview of their in house menu. The design is simple yet pretty hip at the same time although it is nothing like the Brooklyn main restaurant.
Walking into the restaurant, you immediately get this industrial chic hipster style of a restaurant which is pretty much the same as Kilo which is the previous restaurant taking up this space. Some of the furnishings have changed but you can still get that minimalist black and white palette which is also seen in the server’s uniforms. Something really nice about the space is the floor to ceiling window at the side of the restaurant facing the Kallang River so for tables near to these windows, you get a pretty nice view while dining.
We got a table right next to the kitchen’s service window so we could see plates and plates of food being whipped up and picked up by their efficient staff. While this was an interesting view, I also discovered something that pretty much determined my decision not to visit again which I will explain at the end of the post.
There is no physical menu but a QR code where you can see their menu from their website once you scan it. This is part of their menu so for the full menu, you can see it here . Their menu is pretty concise with only a few selection per category. Something you will definitely see on ever table is their original 18 inch pie which is a one flavour pizza.
We ordered some olives to snack on and we were served 5 to 6 green olives in this small container. While the olives tasted great and flavourful enough, the price at SGD 8 is pretty steep.
As we wanted to try something from each category, we ordered a Caesar salad for sharing and the serving was pretty decent for SGD 25 although the price is not exactly pocket friendly. The lettuce was very fresh and crisp with the natural crunchiness and juiciness from the vegetable. The sprinkle of croutons and sliced cheese was also quite generous so we could get a bit of everything in every bite. The sauce was very balanced without being overly creamy and every ingredient was lightly coated with the sauce so nothing overpowers the other ingredient. I was also pretty surprised to find a few anchovies in the salad as it is not common for Caesar to have the fish. Surprisingly, this was actually our best dish from the afternoon.
Since I do not take beef, we had only 2 options left for their pasta and the spicy vodka sounded more like an adventure so we decided to order the spicy rigatoni. The rigatoni came in this fiery orange colour and each piece of rigatoni was well coated with the spicy sauce. The dish was decorated with light shavings of cheese and rocket leaves. Firstly, the pasta was cooked al dente correctly and has a nice bite. The sauce is pretty creamy but there is no extra sauce so the pasta should have been tossed with the optimal amount of sauce for each rigatoni. The sauce itself is very spicy and quite addictive although I could hardly taste any vodka in it. It tasted like a spicy tomato sauce to me which left a very slight burning sensation on my tongue.
Lastly for the highlight of the meal, which is the 18 inch pie. I took this picture to show how huge the pizza was and it basically covered half of our table.
The pizza comes with standard toppings of rocket leaves, cheese, tomato base sauce, cheese and mushrooms. Firstly, on to the texture, the pizza base was baked well and the dough was well made with the right amount of crispiness and chewiness. There were slight burnt parts but I feel that is the charm of traditional pizza. The cheese, mushroom and rocket leaves complemented it each well and it was overall a good pizza but nothing stood out as extraordinary. For a pizza which has so much buzz, it was quite a disappointment as this quality of pizza could be found in many Italian restaurants here in Singapore.
Overall, the food is nice but it is highly over rated. The best pizza? Not so in my opinion. The environment was great to eat in with the surrounding lush greenery flowing into the restaurant through the ceiling to floor windows. The service staff were also professional and attentive and it was great that they served both sparkling and still water for SGD 2 per canister which is refillable. The one incident that probably sealed my decision to not return is what I noticed from the service window. The chef who is responsible for the final touches of the food that day was doing her job without gloves and this included tearing up prosciutto ham, shaving cheese, topping rocket leaves all without gloves and these dishes went straight out to the customer’s table. These are final ingredients which are not going to be cooked again. From ham to her handphone to the dish cloth wiping the table, there was not one time she washed her hands. In times like these, I am appalled by this careless behavior towards food served to customers. Even in times not like this, I am not sure if I want to dig into ham which were handled by hands fondling a mobile phone and dish cloth full of bacteria and germs.