Dicky Tjhin and Pizzeria Cavalese in Jakarta: The Success of Italian Pizza in Indonesia Starts Here

Six months in the kitchen with Alessandro Gilmozzi, ten years ago. Then the decision to open his first restaurant in his hometown. Today, they count four, all focusing on perfect baking with Moretti Forni

Dicky Tjhin in front of the sign for his Pizzeria

Dicky Tjhin in front of the sign for his Pizzeria Cavalese, whose first location was opened in Jakarta nine years ago. The name is a clear homage to the place where the Indonesian chef learned the art of pizza making

Pizza is now a universal gastronomic language: loved and celebrated in every corner of the globe, with that single, short, effective name. While it is almost always associated with Italy, the interpretations of pizza around the world often have more to do with the versions created in the United States.

For this reason, we are more than happy to tell the story of a pizza maker and entrepreneur from Jakarta, Indonesia, who is 38 years old and named Dicky Tjhin. In 2015, he opened the first of a series of pizzerias in his city (now there are four), under the name Pizzeria Cavalese. Here, the pizza has a strong and direct connection with Italy, thanks to how Tjhin learned about this leavened disc from an excellent master, studying in our country.

From the beginning, Pizzeria Cavalese has relied on the technology and perfect baking of Moretti Forni. The Marche-based company is a global reference point for ovens dedicated to pizza, bread, and pastry. “When I was working on the opening of my first restaurant,” he tells us, “I was very sure that to make good pizza, you need quality baking. I remember going to a trade fair here in Indonesia, where Moretti Forni was presenting its products for the first time. I was immediately impressed by the beauty of the ovens, with their unmistakable Italian design, and by the features they described to me. It was exactly the oven I was looking for: it was a very lucky day for my professional journey.”

Rewinding the tape of this story, we go back ten years. Between 2014 and 2015, Dicky Tjhin decided to come to Italy after studying at a culinary school in Switzerland and working in luxury hotels in his country and California. “I was very interested in Italian cuisine and realised I didn’t have a solid foundation to interpret it. So, when I had the opportunity to intern with an important Italian chef, I didn’t let it slip away. You know Alessandro Gilmozzi, right?”

A glimpse of the dining room

A glimpse of the dining room

We know him very well, Dicky! The current president of the Chef Association Ambasciatori del Gusto is undoubtedly one of the most creative and original chefs in our country. With his calm style, never seeking the spotlight, he has consistently offered a cuisine rich in technique and flavour, making his El Molin in Cavalese (Trento) an essential stop for fine food enthusiasts. Let’s not forget that since 1952, the Gilmozzi family has also run the Excelsior pizzeria within the historic Palazzo Riccabona in the centre of Cavalese.

With a dedication to his master, this explains the name of the pizzerias Tjhin opened in Jakarta: “I will never be grateful enough to Chef Gilmozzi for everything he taught me. I consider him a true mentor. While working at El Molin, I asked him to teach me the techniques of Italian pizza. That’s where my passion for pizza grew. I stayed in Cavalese for six months, trying to absorb all the teachings I could. In our pizzerias, we don’t apply high-cuisine techniques like at El Molin, but from the chef, I learned that every process requires maximum effort to achieve the highest quality. This approach still inspires us today to offer our customers the best we can.”

Dicky Tjhin wanted to bring Italian pizza to Jakarta: “When we opened in 2015, there were almost no pizzerias in my country. There were a few American pizza chains, but they don’t make pizza in the Italian way. For this reason, I thought it was important and potentially successful to present the authentic Italian pizza in Indonesia. Initially, it wasn’t easy at all, because people were not familiar with our style: some asked why our pizzas were so thin in the centre or why there were darker spots on the crust. They thought they were baking mistakes, but it was exactly the opposite. However, it didn’t take long for people to understand, also thanks to social media and the tourism many Indonesians do in Italy. Today, we can say that Italian pizza is a trend in Jakarta, and other places offering it have also opened.”

The success of Pizzeria Cavalese is spreading the interest in our pizza even in Indonesia, and for this, we can only be grateful to Dicky.
How would he describe his work on the doughs and toppings of his pizzas?

“When I returned to Indonesia, I had to adapt to the ingredients available here and perfect my technique. We started with a simple direct dough and then chose the path of slow fermentation, about 48 hours, to increase digestibility. After about three years, we began using pre-ferments, ‘biga’, and poolish, and finally, we started using sourdough. Today, we’ve combined all this knowledge to offer the best possible product: you never stop learning. Plus, as I was saying, there’s growing competition in Jakarta, so we can’t rest on our laurels.”

The heat from Neapolis Moretti Forni is a fundamental ingredient for Pizzeria Cavalese

The heat from Neapolis Moretti Forni is a fundamental ingredient for Pizzeria Cavalese

“As for what we put on our pizzas,” Dicky Tjhin continues passionately, “we try to offer both fusion recipes using local ingredients and flavours and more classic Italian versions like the Marinara or Margherita. Local customers appreciate our ingredients, sauces, and spices, even very spicy ones. Our best-seller is called Piedmont, which has a homemade mushroom cream base, mixed mushrooms, and mozzarella. We add a fried egg halfway through cooking and finish with truffle oil after baking. It’s the most requested in all our locations.”

As mentioned, there are four locations: three are Pizzeria Cavalese branches with the same menu. The fourth and latest one is called Cavalese Alta, targeting a more exigent audience with a more refined offering. “In this new restaurant, the focus is not just on pizza. We want to offer a broader interpretation of Italian cuisine. The menu includes many dishes I learned from Chef Gilmozzi, such as fresh pasta, gnocchi, ravioli, and much more. The key in this new location is to serve only fresh food, prepared in-house, allowing our customers to experience another important aspect of Italian culinary culture: the deep connection with food.”

Speaking of Italian style, the beauty of Moretti Forni’s Neapolis, the electric oven designed for Neapolitan-style pizza that reaches up to 510°C, is another strength of Pizzeria Cavalese’s locations. “They are truly stunning, combining the charm of traditional ovens with contemporary, almost futuristic design. Even more important than the design are their performances: in all these years, I have never had a single technical problem with our ovens, which are constantly running. On busy nights, we bake a lot of pizzas, requiring consistent temperature control, and with Moretti Forni, we don’t even have to worry about that. Quality heat and absolute reliability: I couldn’t have made a better choice for myself and my business partners. After the first one, we continued to buy only Moretti Forni.

And they will continue to do so, as the tireless Dicky Tjhin plans to open another restaurant within a year or two “to confirm ourselves as the leading pizza brand in Indonesia. When people think of Italian pizza in Jakarta, our brand should be the first to come to mind. We work every day to improve and achieve these results. Personally, I am proud of what we have accomplished, and I am happy to have brought a piece of my love for Italian cuisine to our country, showing to an audience raised on rice just how good pizza can be.”

Moretti Forni

Moretti Forni

Identità Golose


Identità Golose

This article is curated by Identità Golose, the publication that organises the international fine dining congress, publishes website www.identitagolose.com and the online Guida Identità Golose, on top of curating many other events in Italy and abroad