The world’s most expensive pizza, or just Dubai’s?

Third Avenue Cafe at Dubai MallA tweet pings from @CubicleMeathead asking if I have tried Third Avenue Café at Dubai Mall. Well as coincidence would have it, I am in the midst of a shopping spree there and desperately need some lunchtime grub. I traipse umpteen kilometres with bagfuls of Muji shopping (yes it opened earlier this month!) and ensconce myself in the café. I peruse the menu, tweet convo in full swing…

@forkitoverdubai @foodivaworld wow, that was quick. Food Is nice but wouldn’t go again. Watch out for the AED 400+ pizza…

— The Cubicle Meathead (@CubicleMeathead) February 16, 2013

Dubai's most expensive pizzaThe wood-fired pizza in question –  Astice e Tartufo i.e. lobster and truffle – fresh cherry tomatoes, lobster medallions, asparagus tops, mozzarella, fresh truffle screams the menu – for wait for this, a staggering AED 459! Given Dubai’s fascination with breaking world records, could this be the world’s most expensive pizza? Well according to Guinness World Records, that accolade goes to Gordon Ramsay’s Maze in London at roughly the equivalent of AED 559 with the current exchange rate, but their online menu no longer features pizza of any kind. A Google search brings up many more at much steeper prices. So could it be Dubai’s most expensive pizza? Well from my online and offline research it looks highly likely – feel free to correct me though.

So why is it so expensive? Well I returned a few days later, blowing my FooDiva cover, to chat to the very ameniable Italian chef Fabrizio Pellegrini:

  1. Where are the ingredients sourced from? I purchase almost all of my food from Europe importers. My lobsters are wild French (like all my fresh fish), my cherry tomatoes come from Pachino (Sicily – Italy) and my asparagus and truffle from Italy as well. The white from Alba and the black from Norcia [Perugia province].
  2. Is the truffle on the pizza, black or white or both? On our pizza, I use the white one (according to availability), with a hint of truffle oil made by me with fresh white truffle infusion and Taggiasca extra virgin olive oil from my home town.
  3. But still, why is it so expensive given the ingredients I presume are in small quantities? Because of the cost of the ingredients. One whole lobster (700 gr), the truffle, the asparagus, and for getting a fancy look, I lay on top some gold leaf.
  4. How many have you sold since you opened end of last year? Of course it’s not our bestseller, but still we are selling an average of five a week [to Gulfites.] But what’s interesting in my pizza menu, is that we can offer even traditional pizzas on a good market price, even using only fresh ingredients. No cans in my storage. We prepare artichokes, mushrooms and so on everyday fresh.

Dubai's most expensive pizzaThe cherry tomatoes could be sourced locally from the farms here quantity and consistency permitting, mozzarella from Italian Dairy Products but it won’t be buffalo, and lobster from Omani waters. The other ingredients do have to be imported though. And gold leaf, is that really necessary? Dubai bling I guess. Selling five a week at that price is a damn good sale. As much as I will happily fork out dirhams on good food, I like my pizza plain and simple, Margherita or Neapolitan pretty please. No pizza purist would entertain such toppings. But even with these luxurious toppings, to pay such an extortionate price for a pizza in a shopping mall without a glass or two of vino is quite an ask.

Incase you’re wondering Chef Fabrizio fired up the oven for the purpose of my photograph – well if nothing else, Dubai’s most expensive pizza makes for a rather pretty picture.

Third Avenue Cafe - risottoAs an aside, the king prawn and pea risotto with beetroot reduction garnished with a sprig of rosemary that I tasted incognito on my first visit was very pleasant – creamy yet slightly al dente carnaroli. But I didn’t expect a price tag of AED 149 in a shopping mall. For sure, a glass of vino, or rather a bottle would have helped ease the pain. It’s all about managing expectations and only when you flick through the menu whilst ensconced in a banquette, do you realise the shockingly high prices. Perhaps that’s why the menu stand adorns the entrance.

Even more expensive mains!

Even more expensive mains!

Would you entertain this price for pizza, albeit one graced with such decadent ingredients? What’s the most expensive dish you’ve ever eaten and paid for out of your own pocket?

More importantly though, where can you find Dubai’s best pizza? Well here are FooDiva’s faves – complete with discussion on the origins of pizza. Love to hear yours.

Rossovivo – Business Bay

Brandi Pizzeria – Dubai Mall

Emporio Armani Caffé – Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates

Carluccio’s – Dubai Mall and Dubai Marina Mall

A bientôt.

FooDiva. x

 

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31 Responses to “The world’s most expensive pizza, or just Dubai’s?”

  1. Tariq Sanad February 24, 2013 at 10:45 am

    I have to say I may be tempted to try this Pizza out… maybe an experience! However my favourite by far recently is Brandi which you mention!

    • FooDiva February 24, 2013 at 2:34 pm

      Ha ha well you are a Gulfite! 😉

      • Tariq Sanad February 24, 2013 at 2:38 pm

        I wrote that comment waiting for someone to respond with that! Nah would never pay that amount of money for it. Rather get something fizzy instead.

  2. dave reeder February 24, 2013 at 10:46 am

    Insanity. This is just wrong. The best pizzas are simple and use good ingredients, not gold leaf! I would add to your list the pizzas delivered by Napoletana, which are consistently good, I haven’t eaten at Il Rustico at Chelsea Plaza (formerly Rydges Plaza) in Satwa, but the pizzas there used to be excellent.

    • FooDiva February 24, 2013 at 2:36 pm

      Couldn’t agree more Dave. Thanks for the heads-up on Napoletana, will add to my list. Yes quite right Il Rustico was a boozy favourite of mine in my early Dubai years.

  3. Geordie Armani February 24, 2013 at 11:28 am

    I think I might join Tariq 🙂

    • FooDiva February 24, 2013 at 2:37 pm

      Hopefully on the expense account GA 😉

  4. Kelly W February 24, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    Personally I would never spend that amount of money on a pizza …a simple dish that I can cook myself in a healthy way!!! And if I want a leaf of gold, then I will go and buy gold….

    • FooDiva February 24, 2013 at 2:38 pm

      Ha ha yes I’d rather wear my gold than eat it frankly!

  5. Maurizio Pelli February 24, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    I join Dave , insanity and non sense showing off , the pizza, was born like a poor food , let say like upgraded bread ..! The quality of the pizza is not judged for the extravagance of the topping , but on the quality of the dought , the ingrdients , the armony to balance all toughedar and finally in the perfect cooking time in the correct wooden oven . All this is not easy to find in Dubai . Personally , I think we have better way to eat white or black truffle dish.. than put on top of the pizza . Same destiny also for the lobster.

    • FooDiva February 24, 2013 at 2:41 pm

      Another purist joins our gang Maurizio. Sadly Dubai is one place where clearly this pizza does sell though. Where would you say has Dubai’s best pizza, if arm twisted you really had to choose one?

  6. Sally - My Custard Pie February 24, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    Agree with Dave and Maurizio. There are better ways of serving truffle and lobster. I have eaten new season truffle on pizza but very simple other ingredients – cheese and maybe butter only. 5 ordered a week! The mind boggles.

    • FooDiva February 24, 2013 at 2:47 pm

      My thinking is that rich, decadent ingredients should be left to shine with simple cooking, seasoning and garnishing Sally. Dubai must be one of the few cities in the world that could sell so many of these pizzas a week.

  7. Tony C W February 24, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    Truffles on Pizza????? Nothing can beat the white truffles of Northern Croatia – and certainly not served on a pizza….

    • FooDiva February 24, 2013 at 2:48 pm

      Agh yes they rival Alba’s I hear Tony.

  8. JayEim February 24, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    Ohhh, only AED459. No worries, I am working on the world most expensive Falafel Frittata at AED15,000 the dish.

    It works like this:

    You crumble one single Falafel and fold with 3 Gulls’ eggs and shredded Matsutake mushrooms, You dice a slice of Yubari melon and fry the mixture in Echire butter and Ambergris. You serve mounted on a plate and cover in full gold foil and topped with Gold Beluga.

    Maybe I should register the dish as Trademark!

    Come to think of it, it might even turn out to be very tasty.

    • FooDiva February 24, 2013 at 2:51 pm

      Love your sense of humour Jay. Surprised no one’s come up with an expensive falafel here yet…looks like it’s your turn 😉

  9. OB February 24, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    Went there when it first opened and ordered the cuttlefish and pasta with black ink which was complete rubber, the stuffed chicken which had clearly been pre-heated before serving and several desserts which were all a snoozefest (as is consistently the case even in the best Italian eateries in Dubai). When I told the waitress that the only reason I did not return the chicken dish was because I had been fasting for 48 hours, she just froze and said nothing. The bespectacled Italian lady in the dark suit (the maitre d’, perhaps) overheard my comments and was clearly surprised by my audacity but did and said nothing. Will go back for the pizza at some point but probably nothing else. You forgot to mention Locatelli in your list of Dubai’s best pizzerias (and Frankie’s is not bad either).

    • FooDiva February 24, 2013 at 4:56 pm

      Ooh gosh that’s really not acceptable. The other pizzas did look enticing though. I must admit I am not a fan of Ronda Locatelli’s pizzas, but it’s been a while so perhaps I should give it another go. Agree pizza at the Frankie’s bar makes for a great night out.

  10. Maurizio Pelli February 24, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    Infortunately i don’t go out for pizza for ages , and we all know well …dubai is changing at roket speed ,
    In few month everything can change : the pizza man , the food & beverage manager , the company who import the ingredients , Conseguently the ingredients , The owner of the pizzeria … Even the decor of the restaurant .. ! For this reason I can’t right now say witch one is the best.. I have to go and to tray …!
    But , give me some time … And I will answer .. For the moment the best one is the ” sardenara ” the one I cook myself at home…!

  11. PF February 24, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    i would add to the list of great pizzas/ italian food Margherita. still waiting for the opening though to be able to try it in Dubai.

    • FooDiva February 24, 2013 at 4:57 pm

      Yes I saw the hoarding for Margherita and I hear great things about the Beirut outpost. Let me know when it opens!

  12. Francine Spiering February 24, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    Truffle? Absolutely. Lobster? Any day. Gold leaf? What on earth for. Any of these on a pizza, let alone combined? Not on my plate!!!

    • FooDiva February 24, 2013 at 4:58 pm

      You raise a valid point Francine, it’s the combination of all these ingredients that make it less appealing.

  13. shy February 24, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    Can happen only in Dubai…Gold leaf on a pizza!!! As much as one is tempted to try this out….not for that price tho….Rossovivo & Carluccios are both great…My fav place for a good pizza is Bussola @ The Westin…

    • FooDiva February 24, 2013 at 9:55 pm

      Yes at this time of year, the top level pizzeria is a goodie, and you can have a glass of vino too 🙂

  14. Pinay Flying High February 24, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    Are you being serious about the gold leaf? I mean, really? On a pizza?

  15. Rachel February 25, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    Hi Samantha,

    Always totally agree with your reviews and comments!
    As indeed there are so many good local products that can be used, are we really waiting for a pizza with ingredients sourced exclusively from Italy….well I am not.
    I had the same experience with Giannino, great place, and nice to have this restaurant at JBR, loved the food but…..the prices scared me away…
    It will be highly unlikely that I will spontaneously eat there again or bring guests, as the prices are exorbitant.
    Place is not buzzing with lots of people either so hopefully they realise that they need to lower their prices in order to get more diners..

    A plus,
    Rachel

    • FooDiva February 25, 2013 at 9:36 pm

      That’s so sweet of you to say that Rachel – thank you. Food is so subjective, I appreciate there are many differing opinions. Well you know how I feel about Giannino’s pricing as does the whole world I think! I don’t mind paying exorbitant prices for wine given the country we live in, but don’t appreciate super-inflated food prices when labour costs are lower here and when some ingredients can be sourced locally minimising import costs.

  16. IshitaUnblogged February 27, 2013 at 8:23 am

    I would like to visit only to satiate my curiosity. But I think the price pinches – irrespective of whoever foots the bill. Apart from Dubai’s most expensive pizza making a pretty picture, how did it taste with such eloquent toppings and all? I wouldn’t pay that much for a Pizza! As usual, love your style of writing as it also covers lots of ‘grey areas’ in food trend!

    • FooDiva February 27, 2013 at 6:05 pm

      Thanks Ishita. Dare I say am allergic to truffles?!

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