Potato Head Pizzas
Wood-Fired Minimalism

Handmade pizzas and Italian-inspired cocktails are the focus at Potato Head Beach Club’s sunset deck—a leafy, laid-back space channeling a tropical pizza garden.

Benigno Cruz Rosario III (better known as Benny) is our Puerto Rican pizza specialist behind our naturally leavened doughs, handmade sauces and satisfyingly simple toppings. After manning the brick ovens of cult Brooklyn pizzeria Roberta’s, which inspired the 24-year old’s passion for the world’s favourite savoury pie, he decided to bring his expert artistry to Bali.

 

Ibizan-born Tobias Blazquez, who oversees the beach club’s bar programme, and Potato Head’s Creative Director Dan Mitchell, join Chef Benny to offer some insights on the venue’s back-to-basics fare, sustainably-driven design and island-inspired cocktails.

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

What makes these pizza special?

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.

 

What’s your favourite?

BENNY: For me, the Spinach Béchamel [spinach béchamel, wild mushroom and 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 goat cheese and prosciutto, which is warm and almost molten on top. It’s definitely not something you would normally see.

 

How do Italian-inspired cocktails draw out the flavours?

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 has 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!

What inspired the ambiance for the pizza garden?

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% 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.