Potato Head Pizzas – Wood-fired and Stripped Back

Handmade pizzas and sundown-inspired cocktails are the new focus at Potato Head Beach Club’s sunset deck, a space which has recently been converted into a leafy and laid-back neighbourhood pizza garden.

Benigno Cruz Rosario III (or just Benny) is our Puerto Rican pizza specialist, the man behind the naturally leavened doughs, handmade sauces and simple but satisfying toppings. Manning the brick ovens of cult Brooklyn pizza place Roberta’s inspired the 24-year old’s passion for the world’s favourite flatbreads, and now he is bringing his artistry and industry know-how to the tropics.

 

Ibizan-born Tobias Blazquez, who oversees the beach club’s bar programmes and Creative Director Daniel Mitchell join Chef Benny to offer some insight into the venue’s back-to-basics fare, sustainably-driven design and Italian-inspired cocktails.

“The idea was to create a kind of secret garden, a small, intimate space with lots of dense, jungle-like foliage.”

What’s special about the pizzas?

BENNY: They’re Neapolitan-style pizzas, so very minimalist. Most of them don’t have more than three toppings. We’re using a classic naturally leavened dough and our fresh tomato sauce is handmade from imported Pomodori Pelati tomatoes, a relative of the Italian San Marzano ones traditionally used.

Stand-out pies?

BENNY: For me, the Spinach Béchamel [spinach béchamel, wild mushroom & salsa tartufata] is one of my favourites – it’s complex but simple at the same time. There’s no cheese or extra oil and the wild mushrooms complement each of the other ingredients.

 

Our green pizzas – with basil pesto and tapenade bases – are great for the summertime so they really suit Bali’s tropical climate… and Indonesian lemon basil is my new favourite herb! It’s delicious and it really balances the flavours of the goats’ cheese and prosciutto which is warm and almost molten on top. It’s definitely not something you would normally see.

Cocktails and pizza – a perfect match?

TOBIAS: We all know that wine and beer go hand in hand with pizza, but we also wanted to offer a special cocktail menu. I did a bit of research and discovered that light, bitter, dry and sour flavour profiles paired best. Italian bitter aperitifs, such as Campari, Fernet, Carpano’s Antica Formula and Punt E Mes work really well too and we’ve incorporated these into a number of our drinks. Tangy daiquiris, such as our pineapple and liquorice versions, complement the savoury earthy flavours of our meat-based pizzas.

Why did you opt for a Stefano Ferrara brick pizza oven?

BENNY: Each of his ovens are handmade in Naples, Italy. Stefano Ferrara’s family have been making these ovens for years and each brick is laid by hand just the way they used to do in the olden days. They have really perfected the method of making wood-fire brick ovens; they’re absolutely the best and are built to last.

Weighing in at 2.4 tonnes, it must have been tricky to transport?

BENNY: Our oven has been through so much during its transition from Italy to Bali! It’s travelled through Singapore, Australia, Jakarta, and finally to Bali where it was driven two hours on the back of a truck to reach the Beach Club. When I arrived in May, the oven was sitting out in the parking lot waiting to be moved to its final resting spot. Finally, at about 4AM one morning, it was transported up to the first floor pizzeria with a forklift, before being hauled another six metres onto a hydraulic dolly. The whole process was very tricky and nerve-wracking!

Mood, ambience and design-wise, what was the inspiration?

DANIEL: The idea was to create a kind of secret garden, a small, intimate space with lots of dense, jungle-like foliage. We used some recycled materials to build the bar, which was inspired by the shacks you see in rice fields in Bali, particularly with its corrugated iron roof. In contrast to the huge, open-air setting on the ground floor, the pizza garden is a very laid-back, cosy space – and also a good spot to watch the sunset with friends.

Tell us more about the amazing local producers you’re working with.

BENNY: 97 per cent of our ingredients are locally sourced, including Indonesian shiitake and button mushrooms and ripe rainbow radishes. We’ve also found a fresh cheesemaker who makes our mozzarella and stracciatella here in Bali about 15 minutes from the beach club. He’s an Italian guy; cheesemaking runs in his family and he is just killing it. He sources his milk locally, going to the farms, personally selecting the cows he wants and paying the farmers to give his cows more nutritious food so that their milk is of higher quality and yield.

Best time to check it out?

BENNY: We’re open 4PM until late, but get here before the sun goes down for awesome sunset views.