Enjoy a slice of life at Pizzeria Jacomax, Sheung Wan

Sometimes there’s nothing like a good pizza for lunch.  While the masses scramble for seats daily in Central, there are some gems to be had in neighbouring Sheung Wan.  Through some Openrice detective work I shortlisted this place to try with my pizza-fanatic friend.

As a quick intro, here’s a short video:

outside

Jacomax apparently stands for Jacobo Maximiliano, the Italian owner.  See him on the logo?  You’ll see him again being hands-on in the shop – a good sign.  The other staff were also friendly and chatted casually with customers.

inside

The restaurant sports an orange and brown brick decor and is cosy inside, seating not more than about 20 people.  And yes, another restaurant with an open kitchen – I like strengthening the link between the diner and the food though.  We arrived around 1:15pm without a reservation.  As it was about 90% full, we sat at the side bar table.

We opted for the Happy Set (for 2), with a 32cm pizza, one chef-picked salad, one order of chicken wings, two soft drinks and two mini panna cotta desserts (total $192, original price $292).  For reference, there are two sizes of pizza: 32cm (“regular”) and 51cm (“very large”, i.e. the massive New York style size).

salad

The chef’s salad was basic but fresh; there was no dressing at all but olive oil and vinegar were provided.  It was small, which was good to save space for what was to come…

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Shortly after came the chicken wings with herbs which I was thought was pretty good, although being braised instead of grilled or fried, it’s somewhat healthier but again a bit blander than one may be used to.  The flavours were subtle but it was tender and well-cooked.

pizza

Before we’d even finished the wings came the main event, piping hot.  The cheese, tomatoes and even pizza chef are all from Italy.  Specifically, this is traditional Neapolitan style pizza, which means thin and crispy crust, baked for only a few minutes in a wood-fired oven.

We had the Siciliana: anchovies, capers, olives, Italian tomatoes and mozzarella.  As expected, the anchovies and olives definitely give this pizza pie a strong flavour.  Not overwhelming, but strong.  I think they’ve got the timing down as it wasn’t burnt but just crispy enough.  Due to the thin crust, the centre was a bit floppy (weighed down by the toppings) and chewy and you sometimes have to use both hands.  Another bonus to this type of pizza is you won’t be bloated after from all the dough and grease.

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Who knew that for a pizza place, dessert would also be uniquely amazing?  Although the meal came with panna cotta, they were out and gave us gelato instead – a blessing in disguise.  It’s special as it’s both authentic Italian and proudly made in Hong Kong!  The gelato was from Bibini in Sai Kung (opened by another Italian guy) and was milky, smooth and soft.  No wonder they sometimes run out of dessert!

After service charge the final bill was $211, or $105 each.  Considering the variety, the set meal was good value.  They also do specials with “baby” (mini) pizzas, and sometimes online promotions via ValuUp / Sodacard where they give away a free pasta (Note: by the time I wrote this review, I’d already went back to use said offer!).  Naturally, as with any pizza joint there’s takeaway and delivery, but personally for the instant freshness I prefer a good old sit-down meal.

If I had to nitpick something, the official website (below) could use a little updating, as they opened in 2011.

Finally, as you may already know, this blog likes places with “heart”, and the simple, honest Jacomax delivers.  Will be back to try the other pizzas.  Forget Paisano’s, come here.

Restaurant rating: NOM NOM NOM NOM N- (4.5/5)

Address: Shop C, 88 Commercial Building, 38-42 Wing Lok Street, Sheung Wan 上環永樂街38-42號東成商業大廈地下C舖

Opening hours: 8am (although different sites say 10 or 11am) -10:30am daily

Tel: 2851 4688

Web: official, Openrice English, Openrice 中文, Tripadvisor.com reviewsTime Out HK review, HK Magazine review, The Salty ‘n Sweet (food blog) review

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