Last summer I met a man in a pub. We soon got chatting about food and travel and the conversation swiftly moved on to the pizza in New York. Now I’m no expert but I certainly did try my fair share of slices whilst I was in the Big Apple early last year, and I’ve been craving one of those super skinny cheese topped goodies ever since. As we continued to chat, Eugene revealed to me that he was getting into the pizza business himself and was currently on the lookout for premises in the Itaewon area to open up his own New York Style Pizzeria. I was as happy as a clam upon hearing the news, despite the fact that there’re about 8 pizza restaurants on every corner of the neigbourhood, most of them leave a lot to be desired. So I waited, and waited and waited, until finally, about 6 months later, I heard that Gino’s was to open its doors, and the second I came back from Bali I accepted Eugene’s kind invitation to come and give it a try on the house.
Whenever I go on a trip I always look on Trip Advisor to find great places to eat. However I rarely do this in my home city of Seoul. Last week I finally decided to have a gander and see what was rated as Seoul’s best restaurant. First place goes to Jyoti, an Indian place in Sinchon. Second was Pizza Peel. The reviews seemed great as it is one of the few places in Seoul with a real brick oven.
We arrived on a Friday night and it wasn’t too busy, a few tables were taken. A large menu consisting of pizza and calzone options. There is a very good variety of pizzas, the hard to find Hawaiian is no doubt a popular choice. They have all the ones you miss from back home and not a sweet potato or piece of corn in site. You can also create your own if you don’t fancy any of the ones on the menu.
Being a Friday we opted for a pizza each. I opted for the White, which is spinach, ricotta, mozzarella and olive oil for 15,500. This pizza was fresh and delicious. The topping was great and just what I wanted. The base was perfection. You really can’t beat a brick oven for cooking pizza. I hope to have one in my dream home one day.
Niall chose the Pesto Chicken, which is pesto, chicken, feta, onion and mozzarella for 18,500. This one was pretty tasty too, it was reminiscent of my favorite chicken, pesto and mozzarella sandwich at Indigo. I would have liked to have tried one of the tomato based pizzas too, but felt ordering three pizzas for two people might be going a bit far. The pizzas are of a good size and you can be more than satisfied with half each. If you are greedy like us and order too much then you can take your leftovers home in a box.
They also serve beer and wine, hurray! Draft Cass is 3,000 a pint and comes in frosted mug which is always a treat. If you’re a classy kind of bird then a glass of wine is priced at 6,500. They also have various craft and imported bottle beers.
All in all is Pizza Peel the 2nd best restaurant in Seoul? Probably not, is it the best pizza in Seoul? For me, no. Is the best Pizza in Itaewon,? Hell yeah! Authentically baked and traditional flavours, I can definitely recommend you head to Pizza Peel next time you have a craving for real pizza.
Pizza Peel is located at 34-65 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. From Noksapyeong station, walk straight from exit 3 to the intersection adjacent to the overpass. After crossing both streets to reach the main Itaewon strip, walk straight in the direction of Itaewon station. The Alley Marketplace entrance is located next to the Rottiboy Cafe, and the Pizza Peel is about 15 metres in.
From Itaewon station, walk straight from exit 4 for about 600 meters. The Alley Marketplace entrance is located next to the Rottiboy Cafe (past the McDonald’s and Starbucks), and the Pizza Peel is about 15 meters in. You can call them on 02-795-3283 or check out the menu on their Facebook page for more details.
Last night we finally got around to going to Trevia. It is just opposite our bus stop but until now we had not ventured inside. Whatever night of the week we pass it is always busy and now I finally understand why.
The cafe is decorated in an Italian style with pictures and Italian memorabilia all over the walls. They have big wooden tables and the ever so popular mismatched chairs. Is there a restaurant in Seoul that has a matching set?
As you enter the restaurant you will be given a menu and then you go and find your own seat. After ample perusing time you can go to to the counter to make your selection and pick up your water, cutlery and complimentary pickled vegetables. You will be given a buzzer that will ring when your pizza is ready. It’s a very good system and probably helps account for their lower prices.
We decided to get 4 slices instead of a whole pizza and this was almost too much for two people. You could easily share 3 slices between too as each slice is cut into another 4 pieces.
I opted for the mixed mushroom (5,500). I love mushrooms and this pizza was really good. It was topped with a good medley of mushrooms and cheese. The dough was thin, crispy, and chewy all at the same time, exactly how I like it!
Niall ordered a slice of the Quattro Formaggi (5,500) four cheese. Presented in a very cute way each piece, came topped with a slice of cheese. Gouda, Gorganzola, Brie and Mozzarella were the choices. He shoveled it down pretty quickly so you’re onto a winner with that one. Where else can you get that variety of cheese for that price?
We also ordered the Filone Potato (6,300) A rosemary potato pizza which was was probably my favorite. You could taste the rosemary the second you bit into it, and the potatoes were perfectly cooked.
Our last slice was the Fresh mozzarella (6,300). This was great too. Topped with lettuce leaves drizzled in olive oil, cherry tomatoes and mozzarella. It tasted so fresh and clean. The perfect slice for salad lovers.
In a fit of greed I also ordered a lasagne (13,000). Which was actually rather good, tasting just like it should. It had a good robust flavour and lots of lovely pasta. The way lasagne should be made. I love my own recipe but this one could satisfy any cravings you have. Much better than what you usually get served up in Korean style Italian restaurants. They also have a variety of salads, paninis and breads available.
The drinks are very cheap, a big draft beer cost a mere 3,000 and a glass of wine at 5,000. No wonder they are so busy. Its the perfect venue for a first date or casual meet between friends. Nice enough ambiance without being too formal. They even have their own Salami, Olives, Oil, balsamic vinegar and Parmesan cheese for sale!
Trevia is located at 557 Itaewon-Dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. The nearest bus stop is 03-152 it’s just by the restaurant. By Subway head to Noksapyeong station (line 6) and come out exit 2. Walk down the road till you get to the underpass and cross the road. Take the right hand exit and walk straight ahead. You can call them on 02-794-6003.
Ever since I found my recipe for this dough, pizza has been a regular dinner for us. I love these tasty pizzas and could eat them everyday. However I like a bit of variation and sometimes make a calzone instead. It’s pretty much the same thing, the pizza is just folded over. However I think it changes the dough a little and makes it into more of a kind of pasty which I love. The great thing about these babies is that you can fill them with whatever you want and take them to work as they are individually sealed. When I make up a big batch of dough, I usually use half for pizza and half for calzones. I used some of my coveted goats cheese in the filling of these and it was amazing, but pretty much anything goes. I even tried some with the pulled pork I made!
500g flour (I used the one for dumplings and noodles.)
2 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon of yeast (I used bobai brand that comes in 8g packages)
4 table spoons of olive oil
14oz ice-cold water
1/2 a kabocha squash (those dark green looking pumpkins)
2 tablespoons of tomato sauce
140g of goats cheese
A large handful of spinach
2 tabelspoons of toasted pine nuts
A knob of butter
Sift the flour, salt, and yeast into a bowl. Then using a table-spoon stir in the oil followed by the water bit by bit, you may find as I did that you don’t need it all, or you can always add more. Use the metal spoon to get right into the middle of the dough and mix it thoroughly. You know you have added enough water when the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl but still sticks to the bottom. If it is too dry add a few more drops of water, if it is too wet add more flour a little at a time until it’s the right consistency.
Once your dough is formed you need to work it for another 5-7 minutes using the metal spoon, this activates the gluten in the flour which makes it springy and elastic rather than a tacky lump. You can do this by putting the spoon into the dough and moving it around, you will find the dough stretches the more you do this. After this take the ball of dough and pull it and stretch it with your hands, I am sure you have seen Italian pizza chefs on TV doing it (I didn’t do it half as elaborately but you get the idea).
Now the dough is ready, form it into balls – I made 3 big ones. The recipe stated that you should leave the balls in the fridge over night before using, but I don’t think it’s hugely important. If you have thought ahead in advance or have a huge amount of restraint and willpower it does help the flavour of the dough develop, but it still tastes great if you use it straight away (the dough will keep in the fridge for up to four days). Roll your ball in flour then put a little olive oil on your hands and coat each ball before putting on a tray or plate. Put the plate in a zip lock bag or failing this cling film and store overnight.
To made the filling cut the squash in to quarters and take out the seeds. Drizzle the pieces with a little olive oil and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes or until they are soft. Next scoop out the flesh and cut into chunks. I don’t like to waste the skins so I usually sprinkles on a little cumin and roast them in the oven for another 10-20 minutes until they are crunchy for a tasty snack. Chop the spinach then saute in the butter for a minute or two until it has wilted. Add the tomato sauce, pine nuts and crumble in the goats cheese. Mix together with the squash chunks thoroughly.
Roll out the dough into circles. Top with a tablespoon of sauce then add a few spoonfuls of filling. Then brush the edge with egg yolk.
Fold the dough over to make a semi-circle. Then crimp the edges. Depending how skilled you are you can make them look very beautiful. Brush the whole thing with egg wash again then baked them in the oven for about 10-20 minutes or until the dough is golden brown.
Serve on their own or with more tomato sauce for dipping. Voilà easy tasty calzone.