Friends turned partners-in-crime, Mark Iacono, Gibran Baydoun and Ariana Flores, team up to open Lucali BYGB, sister restaurant of New York’s famed pizzeria in Singapore next month
Adored by both locals and celebrity A-listers, Brooklyn’s Lucali is known for its snaking queues. Serving up pizzas and calzones in his 10-table pizza shop, Mark Iacono has appeared in various talk shows and Netflix’s Ugly Delicious. He had previously hosted Really Dough? on Thrillist alongside Scott Wiener in search of the different variants of pizza.
The Lucali 18-inch pizza’s crisp, fluffy and chewy crust is the foundation of it all. Slathered with Iacono’s grandmother’s recipe for a rich tomato sauce, it’s covered with the holy trinity of cheeses—buffalo mozzarella, low-moisture mozzarella, and shaved Grana Padano. Lastly, it is topped with Iacono’s trademark: bunches of fresh basil leaves.
Love at first sight
Getting those famed pizza pies to our shores have been a team effort. It all started with Gibran Baydoun, who moved to Singapore four years ago after tenures at various establishments including the director of restaurant operations at David Chang’s Momofuku.
When Iacono looked to expand the Lucali empire overseas, he called Baydoun, customer-turned-friend. The pair became fast friends and have now known each other for seven years. “I like Mark, and I want to spend as much time with him as I can,” Baydoun said, laughing.
While it is strictly pizzas and calzones in Brooklyn, Lucali BYGB comes with a well-padded menu. Executing Italian fare such as salads, pastas and desserts to complement Iacono’s offerings is chef Ariana Flores, formerly the executive pastry chef at Nancy Silverton’s Osteria Mozza in Marina Bay Sands. She and Baydoun met during his time at Adrift by David Myers and found out they both share the same philosophy on hospitality.
With Baydoun leading hospitality and Flores crafting the menu on top of Iacono’s pizzas, Lucali BYGB promises to bring the same edgy attitude Brooklyn diners know and love. A decidedly more contemporary and minimalist outfit than the original rustic pizzeria in New York, the eatery at Kallang Bugis takes over the former Kilo Kitchen. He likens to meeting of old and new school to “Frank Sinatra meets Drake”.
The combination of vintage tiles and smooth grey concrete flooring symbolised the flawless partnership of Iacono and Baydoun. With lamps like those in Brooklyn and a wood-burning brick oven built by same stonemason, “It is Lucali Singapore with hints of Lucali Brooklyn!” Iacono quipped.
The aim, for Baydoun, is to make guests forget they’re in a restaurant. Every decision, from the furnishings to the dishware is made to give the experience of a modern, trendy pizzeria without the pretentiousness. “We treat whoever that comes through our doors as kings and queens ,” Iacono adds. And for Flores, she seeks to welcome everyone into Lucali BYGB as if it were her own home.
The 70-seater joint will also offer a comprehensive drink program including all natural wines the likes of LAS Vino and Momento Mori, and cocktails using Ecospirits (ecospirits.com) from Proof & Co.
Until Lucali BYGB opens its doors to the public in July, we’ll have to make do with a limited-edition takeout and delivery menu including meatloaf inspired by Baydoun’s mother’s recipe, lasagna and rigatoni.
For more information or to place an order, visit lucalibygb.com.