Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Malaysia Food Blog - MichelangelO's Pizzeria - Home of Authentic American Woodfired Pizza

Location: Ipoh Garden East, Ipoh, Perak.

Pizza - I know I will go for Pizza Hut when I am in Ipoh, but knowing a Michelangelo's Pizzeria in Ipoh is quite a surprise to me, more so that it is operated by a Westerner. Still, much thanks to my friends for introducing me to this superb establishment which offered me an alternative to the famous neighborhood pizza franchise, which started to bore me anyway.

Welcome to MichelangelO's Pizzeria! Even without the effects I overlaid  on the photo, the sign does look faded, so you will have to keep an eye open for the shop.

I remember that when we arrived, the owner of the pizzeria was trying to joke with us. Well, I was not quite sure it was a joke then, until he grinned widely at us and ushered us in. That was quite a change of way in greeting customers from the well accustomed Malaysian style. Still, I presume that there may be some who may be confused by his joke, so just be patient and enjoy the moment with him.

By the way, did I also mentioned that if you are asking for a table for multiple persons, you will need to have everyone present before he lets you all in? So no more booking a few tables when only 2 persons are there. Hmm...

The establishment that is Michelangelo's Pizzeria was featured in the papers before, as was evidence in the framed articles outside the pizzeria, the pride of the establishment. 

The Menu and the Interior

No long list of food greets you in Michelangelo's Pizzeria's menu, but I was still a little taken aback from the offered choices. Don't expect to see your familiar combinations from Pizza Hut. I took quite some time to go through all the names, and if not for the explanations underneath each name, I think I will be spending half an hour asking the waiter/waitress to know what I want.

The waiters and waitresses go through their job with an energy and friendliness that make me long for Michelangelo's Pizzeria. Truly, such attitude is missing from current waiters and waitresses serving in the food franchise industry.

The menu isn't large nor is there a lot of choices, but it definitely take time to go through all of them, since most of them are quite new to Pizza Hut goers (that's me...). Don't look for Hawaiian something anymore... Actually, there is a Hawaiian something, it is called Miki Miki's Hawaiian...

If this is America in winter, I would expect the place to be warm and cozy. The owner brought exactly that kind of feel to local soil when he set up the place. Warm greeting, warm amber lighting on yellow painted walls, along with portraits of American culture hanging on the wall makes you forget that you are on Malaysian soil. I am not particularly impressed by the rock (or was it pop...?) song running through the speakers, but that was me. Don't let my personal disinterest for songs undermine the environment.

When we were there, it was full house. The waiters were bouncing around with energy, passing orders to the open kitchen at one corner. Of particular interest was an Indian ethnic waiter who greeted us with fluent Cantonese. Such a joyful and energetic bunch of waiters really set a benchmark for me to judge waiter services elsewhere.

One side of the wall is painted with a cartoon impression of the shop's interior, with waiters serving hungry diners. It actually is quite a fun piece of art, if I may say so.

You get portraits lining on the other wall. Is that Marilyn Monroe in the middle...? Not sure if I recognize all of these people, but they definitely make a fine decoration on the wall, portraying the American culture on Malaysian soil.
The Food

So, the pizza of Michelangelo's Pizzeria. What about it? Spectacular. But first, let's have appetizers, and what do we have here? Jalapeno Bacon Wrap @ RM19.90? 7 pieces of them? Let's have it then. Although the word 'Jalapeno' first strike fear into me as fiery spicy, this one isn't so. It taste like green pepper, and the core of cream cheese diminishes any spiciness further.

Jalapeno Bacon Wrap, 7 pieces in total (RM19.90). Jalapeno is supposed to be very spicy, but have no fear, this one tastes just like green pepper and not spicy at all. The cream cheese within and the wrapping bacon gives it a special look and nice taste. The bacon alleviates the taste by adding an extra layer of sweetness around the cheese-filled jalapeno.

So, back to the pizza. You can get a full pizza at the offered flavor, or you could choose to have half of the pizza at one flavor, another half at another flavor, which is how most people like to order. You will be paying for half the price of a full pizza for that flavor if you opted for the latter method, so you get to taste more types of flavor.

At my friends' behest, we opted for Blue Cheese, Bacon and Eggs (isn't that like an English breakfast?), Salami Special, and The Hog (sounds like some monstrosity).

Here comes Salami Special (the further half) and The Hog (the nearer half) (RM14.90 + RM19.90)! These are definite choices for meat lovers, with The Hog offering hams and bacon (see those 2 long slices of meat there?), while Salami Special spells it out for sausage lovers, all sprinkled within that half of pizza.

And here's Bacon and Eggs (the nearer half) and Blue Cheese (the further half) (RM16.90 + RM15.90). Eating Bacon and Eggs on a pizza is a lot like eating the stuff by itself, but with pizza crust to go with. I can't quite place the taste of blue cheese, and although it doesn't look particularly promising, it really is an experience having it, so do try it out. It does not taste like your usual cheese, with a slightly (very slightly only) salty taste and no sweet cheese taste.

Efficiency - this is the most impressive way of utilizing space which I have ever seen. Michelangelo's Pizzeria has a space constraint, since their tables are small and the place is crowded, so imagine the problem of dining with a large pizza pan in the middle of a table. By elevating the large pizza pan by the height of a large tin can, they make full use of 3 dimensions to offer up a comfortable dining experience.

Of course Michelangelo's Pizzeria isn't just about pizzas, despite its name. You can't get away with pastas when it comes to Italian food, and so pasta it is! The Garden Spaghetti that was served up appeared to be quite a huge portion, but fortunately we had more than a few hungry stomachs to fill. If you ordered for pizza and not everyone is ready for second round, then better leave this be, and get it on your next visit.

Garden Spaghetti (RM14.90) - it could be served as vegetarian or with Italian pork sausages; we opted for the former. This version of spaghetti is served with tomato base along with green peppers and onions. Not exactly special but still an alternative to pizzas in a pizzeria. 

The Cheesecake Balls

You ain't been to Michelangelo's Pizzeria if you ain't tried their cheesecake balls. Trust me, they worth every dollar and penny (or RM and cents in our case) in your pocket. These balls of cheesecake are larger than your average chicken eggs, and comes in either almond coated or Oreo coated.

Michelangelo's Pizzeria's cheesecake balls comes in 2 different varieties, each larger than your average chicken egg. Each costs only RM6.90. Although this is a pizzeria, what I really recommend you to try is not the pizza, which is nice, but these balls/cakes, which are spectacular and out of this world!

Oreo chocolate powders coated this ball all over, leaving nothing to be seen of the cheese within. Definitely not stingy with Oreo in this one...

The almond powders coating this one is not losing to its cousin as well. I wonder how it looks like when it is peeled off...?

And the cheese(cake) is exposed! The crusty almond coating does not come off easily even when the ball is peeled apart, so you can enjoy bites of sweet cheesecake with the taste of almond sprinkled all on top of it. 

The same goes for its Oreo coated cousin. This will be a paradise for chocolate and Oreo lovers. In this case, peeling it apart makes a nice image of stark contrast. Enjoy in small bites, for you will definitely yearn for more!

The Oven

You may or may not notice, but from the menu to their website to the mural across the wall, the word, or rather the concept, of 'woodfired pizza' is persistently present everywhere. No kidding, you can even see firewoods stacked in a corner and a chimney at the back. Quoted from their website:

"We prepare all our pizzas with fresh toppings and baked at 750 degrees Fahrenheit in a wood-burning brick oven."

The operative word here is 'woodfired pizza'. I believe that those woods stacked at a corner aren't for decoration purposes... well, maybe they do provide decoration purposes while being able to be burned for pizza making...

Here's the brick oven for burning the wood for pizza making. It is quite extraordinary to see such architecture in the idyllic city of Ipoh.

The fires are still burning hot when I took this photo. Despite the fact that they are using conventional baking method, they served our pizza much faster than Pizza Hut. Shame on you, o franchised pizzeria...

Warm environment and warmer greetings from the owner and employees of the establishment makes this a wonderful experience, one which I recommend to everyone should you have the chance. If you are bringing kids, they will help make your table specially favorable for kids, so this is definitely a place that will try their best to make you feel comfortable and happy. Kudos, Michelangelo's Pizzeria!

View MichelangelO's Pizzeria in a larger map

Suitable for:            A gathering with friends or a romantic dinner for two. Maybe a dinner with family members, if you are willing to pay for it.
Cost:                             Occasional to luxurious; despite the price, since the dishes could be shared between members of the group, so it will not be too expensive after dividing the price among each other.

Website:                    Facebook page and Main Page
Contact:                     +605 - 549 9099
                                         Please take note that they take no reservations.
Address:                     No. 40, Jalan Medan Ipoh 1B, Medan Ipoh Bistari, 31400 Ipoh.
                                         If you know where Kinta City Jusco is, then you should be able to find this place. 

Operating hours:   Tue - Sun (6.00p.m. - 10.30p.m.); closed on Mondays
Parking:                   There are ample parking along the street.

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