Shanghai's latest pizza obsession: thin, crunchy and tavern-style
A tavern-style pizza is thin, crispy and perfect alongside a cold beer … it's the type of pizza you will indulge in at Zup Pizza Bar, the latest opening around the busy corner of Fumin and Xinle roads in downtown Shanghai.
This new-concept eatery, primarily focusing on grid-cut tavern-style pizzas that go above and beyond on creativity and quality, was founded by Wayne Hou and Lee Tseng.
The pair, veterans of the food and beverage industry for many years, considers this new adventure to be a passion project.
Hou used to run a gastropub in Dalian, northeast Liaoning Province, and organized several tavern-style pizza pop-ups in Shanghai while Tseng was co-founder of both Boxing Cat Brewery and Liquid Laundry.
Hou is dedicated to working in the kitchen to achieve that perfect thin crust pie and Tseng brings his experience to support him from every possible angle and detail.
"We're here to create a cordial easygoing vibe, the good energy for people on a night out, said Tseng.
"Zup is a pizza bar where sharing a pizza is just a delicious start, and I hope our guests can linger with good beer, wine and conversation for a full experience."
Discerning diners will regard it as a benchmark of where casual eating is heading: stylish simplicity in the decor, fun details evoking the team's personalities, professional staff and food made from scratch and freshly warm from oven.
As Hou puts it: "Some want to make excellent pizzas; some want to make people happy; we want to do both!"
Hou, who grew up in Chicago, is a fan of that city's connection with thin-crust pizza sliced into squares. It's the quintessential Chicago style with a uniquely Chicago story.
After the end of Prohibition in the 1930s, pizza was served mostly in taverns, often as an enticement to drink alcohol. "I grew up in Chicago and we only eat this tavern-style pizza," Hou said.
The dough is made in-house and chilled for 72 to 96 hours to achieve the ideal texture. It is run through a mechanical dough sheeter then hand tossed so it's extra thin.
The 14-inch pizza is best enjoyed piping hot and fresh out of the oven – the edges just charred and the cheese molten and soft. It's crispy and it snaps but there's a density to it.
The sauce and cheese go all the way to the edges of the dough and the cheese gets extra caramelized and crunchy. That makes the small odd-shaped edge pieces worth fighting over – they are usually the crispiest.
Toppings, however, are where Zup gets creative. Grand Fennelli is a red sauce pizza generous with toppings of house fennel sausage and giardiniera. Here you will discover the pleasures of the crunchy acidic giardiniera – a quintessential Chicago condiment.
Another popular pizza is the White Gold, where garlic cream sauce is slathered on the crust and topped with mashed potato, pancetta bits, scallion and house ranch sauce.
Aside from the current 11 pizzas on the menu, tasty appetizers are also on offer. They ensure there are enough tasty bites to choose from for an evening of indulgence.
If you go:
Opening hours: 5pm-midnight (soft opening)
Address: 2/F, 291 Fumin Rd
Average price: 150 yuan