Tag Archives: pizza

Kytaly: A cocktail with a side of Italian restaurant

In a bizarre turn of events, I was actually in town for the long weekend of Jeune Genevois. During a full day of rare down time, I finally came to think of new bars I’d heard about in Geneva. All rested up, and dreaming of cocktails, what else could I do but go bar-hopping? There were a few that had recently come to my attention, and in the course of one night we covered three – Kytaly, the Buena Vista Cocktail Club, and the Spikisi – which I have reviewed in a three part series.

First stop, Kytaly!

The restaurant and deli showcase their mozzarella

The restaurant and deli showcase their mozzarella

Although we were clearly aiming for cocktails, we slowly discovered Kytaly had many faces, offering pizza slices to go, Italian dining a la carte, gourmet deli Italian meats and mozzarella, and of course, cocktails. Our time there was nothing short of an M.C. Escher optical illusion: if you had asked me and each of my three companions what kind of place it was, you would have gotten four different answers: pizza takeout spot, restaurant with a convenient cocktail bar where you can wait for your table, cocktail bar with not enough bar seating, etc. The debate was open!

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The pizza take out bar at the entrance

The place was empty, which, the jovial bar tender explained, was because it was their opening week. And indeed, it had that brand-spanking new feel to it, like a new car smell, or rigid pair of leather shoes.

Or was the coolness intentionally embedded in the décor? With mostly silvery grey enameled surfaces, the bar-resto has a slick contemporary vibe, with pretty stark lighting. Front stage was given to a few tables set for dinner and a pizza oven, and the backstage housed the deli and some more tables, leaving the cocktail bar squeezed into a little mezzanine in between.  Maybe this was more of a resto cum bar rather than a cocktail bar that served food after all?

Bar-height dinner tables and a selection of italian products for sale - or is it decoration?

Bar-height dinner tables and a selection of italian products for sale – or is it decoration?

We ordered a round of cocktails and were strongly encouraged by the bartender (and waiter, and manager, and…) to order some focaccia and a pizza. The cocktails were excellent, albeit on the small side: the bar tender nailed classics such as the Manhattan and a no frills version of the G&T. When asked to tweak one of their own cocktails, he was happy to do so and turned out a variation of the Kytaly Panky (bourbon, vermouth, fernet branca and campari).

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When testing a new cocktail bar, I always ask for one of the classics first, in this case, a Manhattan.

We caved to the manager’s somewhat overeager client orientation and ordered a pizza margherita to share. Again, great product, slightly smaller than a Da Paolo’s pie with a light, doughy crust, nicely sweet and sour tomato sauce and creamily melted cheese.

Snack for four or dinner for one, either way, a perfectly decent pizza

Snack for four or dinner for one, either way, a perfectly decent pizza

With both cocktails and pizzas under their belt, and a location a stone’s throw away from Apothicaire, Barbershop, Blvd du Vin and the Nonolet, there’s no reason why Kytaly shouldn’t be a hub of its own before too long. But what kind of hub will it be? A post-after work bite to eat and night cap? The place to go for a lunch time slice of pizza and a little deluxe deli shopping? Whatever floats your boat, maybe. In any case, I’ll be giving it a few weeks to see if the place gets a bit cozier, shaking off that new car smell effect and breaking into its snazzy new leather shoes.

Thirsty for more? We were, and so we hiked off to stop 2: the Buena Vista Cocktail Club.

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Head’s up! There’s a New Pizza Truck on the Block

Let me start with an admission: I have lived in Geneva for the better part of 30 years, including most of my teens and late 20s, and yet, I had never been to the Paleo Festival in Nyon… until last week.

Shame, scandal, horror! Or maybe not such a big deal. In any case, now in my early 30s, less inclined to get muddied up, but still up for new experiences, I rolled up my work pants, switched into my hiking boots, and danced in the mud with 230,000 other spectators. And it was a blast.

Naturally, I needed to fuel up before getting started. Lucky for me, I knew I would finally be able to try Nero’s Roman sliced Pizza, Geneva’s second new school food truck that opened back in May.  Why did it take so long you ask? Simply because I work nowhere near any of their weekday lunch locations. Povero me! So I was naturally thrilled to find out they’d be stationed at Paleo Festival all week.

And indeed, Nero is off to a great start on its mission to serve up artisanal Roman style slices to the masses, and are just a few tweaks short of a faultless slice of pizza. Nero’s prides itself first and foremost on its dough, and with good reason. Two years they claim to have studied and tested to get the pitch perfect consistency of a Roman style pizza: crunchy on the outside, moist and doughy on the inside. Well boys, the studying paid off, the dough truly is all its cracked up to be. The tomato sauce – another fundamental to a good slice of pizza – is also very nicely tangy, and not too sweet.

Pizza sitting pretty: left, the highly recommended salami picante with onion confit

Pizza sitting pretty: left, the highly recommended salami picante with onion confit

The cherry on top (ahem), is that they get creative with their toppings, which really teases the eye and the appetite. We got to try most slices on their regular menu, a marinara (tomato sauce, garlic, oregano and parsley), parmigiana di melanzane (eggplant, tomato, mozza, parm and fresh basil), bufala (mozza di bufala, tomato and fresh basil), salame piccante (salami, tomatoes, parsley and caramelized onions), and one of their specials with sausage and zucchini.  The ingredients are unmistakably top notch (that salami picante was so tender you’d almost rather eat it straight), and they go green by showcasing seasonal ingredients. While some ingredients were prepped to shine, others could still use some spicing up.

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My favorite: hands down the salami piccante with the caramelized onions, and I’ll tell you why. The onions bring a beautiful acidity and depth to the flavor profile, which I find key when dealing with so much cheesy goodness. The eggplant and zucchini slices could have used a bit of that umph, but this is nitpicking really.

Finally, we tried the tiramisu, which, I mean, how can you go wrong? It’s nothing but layered tastiness. It was almost all you would expect from a tiramisu, sweet and creamy with just that subtle touch of chocolate powder. I would personally change the ratio of biscuit to cream (ie, a bit less biscuit), but again, a matter of personal taste.

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A tip for the newbies: if you’ve never been to a NY or Roman style pizza parlor before, get in the know! The slices are on display, they are then slipped into the oven to get nice and toasty warm for you, and after a few minutes, you’re off with your slice of pizza. So be cool and don’t freak if you can’t just walk away with what’s on display.

In sum, Nero’s is joining Luigia’s to introduce Geneva’s palate to another kind of pizza altogether. Their aim: serving up artisanal roman pizza by the slice to the masses. A valiant objective, to which they are well on their way. No doubt they will have the technique perfected after dealing with Paleo, and next… the Fete de Geneve!  Check out their FB page for updates.

 

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Luigia – The Best of Italy in Geneva?

I’ve been holding back on this review for awhile now, mostly because some of my culinary cohort is considering including this pizzeria in a cut throat contest of Geneva’s best pizzas………..BUT, until that happens, some of us may want to know what’s what, am I right?

Now I feel I should start with a disclaimer…. or rather a confession. I have never had pizza in Italy. I knowww, I know, Italy is like, 5 minutes from Geneva. I have no excuses whatsoever, so why don’t we all stop judging me and get back to the point: I write this review purely based on my own tastes and comparing to other pizzerias in Geneva – now basta!

First impressions: noise and dessert

The first time I went to Luigia, I admit, I didn’t like it. It’s bright. It’s noisy. It’s crowded. It’s chaotic. And did I mention how BRIGHT the place is? You feel like you’re on a movie set out in Hollywood. For someone who is sensitive to clatter and chaos, this was a bit challenging. I grant you though, it gleams coolness. To be honest, I can’t even remember the food from that first time, except for the tiramisu, which, my experienced companion swore, was entirely authentic and delicious.

Killing time on Cocktails

The second time I went, I was prepared for the sensory overkill and went in with my best mood on. Besides, by now the rumors had spread that they had a good cocktail crew working the bar, so I definitely had to give it a second chance. The strategy worked: this time, I let the chaos do its thing as I stood by the bar with my friends sipping on one of these sweet things:

Spritz, 7chf

Behold the spritz, a wonderful little Italian concoction composed of aperol, prosecco and a slice of orange. It’s sweet with just enough bitter to keep it from sending you into a diabetic coma.

And it’s a good thing they’re good too: the place is so popular you’ll be waiting for a cool 30 minutes or longer, so be prepared to drink up!

La piece de resistance: the pizza

What’s a popular pizza place without good pizza? But does this place earn its reputation? Luigia claims to have the most authentic Napolitano pizza. For lack of data, I can’t argue with that. However, it was indeed delicious pizza. Unlike most restaurants, Luigia breaks up its pizza menu into types of pizza, and describes in each section what is so special about the ingredients that define them. The show stoppers? The San Marzano tomatoes from Campanie and the Fior di Latte Appenino cheese from the Naples region, both traditional and protected products.

I got to try the pizza Tricolore (cherry tomatoes, fior di latte, roquette and parmesan) and the pizza Italica (San Marzano tomatoes, raw fior di latte, cherry tomatoes, olive oil, basil and oregano), and I was extremely pleased. The dough is thin, but soft and unctuous, the tomatoes and cheese are genuinely all they are cracked up to be, and the rest of the ingredients are fresh and full of natural flavor.  Both the pizzas I tasted were great, though personally, I preferred the subtle velvety taste of the fresh cheese on the Italica over the Tricolore, which wound up being a bit dry from the rucola and the parmesan.

Pizza Tricolore, 22chf

Mangia! 

If nothing else, these pizzas are not your average Geneva pizza, nor is the setting your average Geneva restaurant. It’s festive, it’s loud, it’s fun, it’s kitchy (no, I’m still not talking about Da Paolo’s…….) and if you’re up for a dynamic dinner with good cocktails to put down before a night on the town, this is definitely the right place for you. Oh, and yeah, the pizza is definitely good too!

Good to know: Open EVERY DAY (yup, Sunday as well. And Monday. For lunch and dinner. Including Christmas and New Year’s.) Find them at 24 rue Adrien-Lachenal, and call them at 022 840 15 15 – but don’t bother calling to book a table! The place is waaaaaayyyyy too cool to take reservations….

 

 

 

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