Date of review: June 16, 2017 | Reviewed by: Wilson Fok
The west end’s dining scene continues to bloom, and Alvy’s, the latest opening on the block, is a pizzeria with impressive drinks. The terracotta-toned entrance is hard to miss. The entrance is narrow with a well-stocked whisky bar on one side, leading up to the pizza kitchen at the back, both of which are lined with bar seats.
On the other side of the establishment are evenly spaced tables and seating that guarantees elbow room for guests. The entire space uses natural earthy tones with wooden elements with a few black and white photos embellishing the walls. The bar area may seem a little tight to mingle over drinks, so we prefer the seating area to share our food and drink orders among our party.
Alvy’s food menu is a one-pager. Simple as it may be, each item from noshes (small plates) to pizzas reveal a local element. The pizzeria incorporates everyday local condiments and ingredients such as charsiu, geung-yeong (scallion and ginger dipping sauce for chicken), five spice, and fermented tofu, among others. The local twists fittingly offer dishes an unconventional but welcoming lift. We started with sweet (and sour) breads, where veal sweetbreads are cut into nuggets and fried, topped with a sweet and sour pork alongside tiny dices of fresh fruits and shallots. The sweetbreads are rich but lack the usual creaminess, but the sauce clings onto each golden sweetbread morsel.
We opted for the Yu Kwen Yick fried chicken. Named after one of the most iconic chili sauce brand, Alvy’s version of the buffalo wings are potently hot but not nearly as acerbic as one would expect. The blue cheese dipping sauce is creamy and just tart enough to even balance out the wings’ richness.
Pizzas are made in house with brewer’s yeast from making craft beers. Each of the pies is 11-inch in diameter with caramelized spots on the crust surrounding the filling. We started with the Bak Gwei, where a rich gruyere béchamel sauce is smoothly spread across, topped with cubes of barbecued pork and ginger-scallion dressing, adding texture and sharp aroma of scallions to give this white pizza its depth.
The show-stopping Fort Greene is pizza perfection, where the crust is slightly chewy, imparting richness from the wheat that makes its structure. The pizza, filled with basil pesto, is topped with mushrooms, mozzarella cheese and a generous heap of asparagus ribbons, The thin strips of asparagus yield to the residual heat of the pizza, giving out its sweetness in every bite, The crust holds its shape throughout and vegetables and cheese bring just as high a satisfaction as the usual meat-filled pizzas.
Alvy’s prides itself on its abundant beverage selection. There is a strong focus on craft beers, many on tap from locally brewed Young Masters, as well as other boutique brews from New York. Beers are listed from the lightest in flavour profile to the richest. We took a sample size (200ml) of the Double Sess(ion), a witbier from the US. The straw-toned beer is mild and slightly floral, with spicy notes blooming on the palate that reminds one of Sichuan peppercorn’s numbness but quickly jolting us back with camomile aftertaste, a great match to start the meal. Another signature beer we ordered comes from Young Masters. The Thyme Pale Ale is specially made with bitter hops, with the herbaceousness of thyme oozing through each sip; it’s a wonderful drink on its own and as an accompaniment to pizzas. Non-beer drinkers can also indulge in an excellent though modest wine selection and cocktails made with a wide range of bourbon and rye whiskies, generously displayed at the bar up front.
Alvy’s service is personal and attentive throughout. The service team is keen to walk you through the menus from the specials on the wall to everything on the menus, from food to drink.
The staff are knowledgeable on menu offerings, and often enthusiastic in guiding you through beer tasting while offering stories of the beers’ origins as well as tasting notes and food pairing suggestions.
A dinner for two with one beer each amounts to HK$700. Alvy’s is a rare breed of its kind with great beers and high quality of food offerings. The only downside may be that the shop only opens for dinner and late supper, yet there is enough reason to tide us back west for another satisfying pizzeria experience.