Where to eat pizza in the UAE
Pizza may have origins in Napoli in the southern Campania region, but it’s one of the few dishes you will find served in all of Italy’s 20 regions, and one that, thanks to globalisation, is present on menus around the world. Quality is as far-ranging, as is the style of pizza. The original Neapolitan pizza is soft, supple and elastic, so much so, you can fold it in half – in antithesis to crisp Romana pizza. New York pizza boasts a dense base with richer toppings, and of course we now have many a gluten-free pizza. Given the high heat of pizza ovens (300-400C+), these gorgeous flatbreads cook within a couple of minutes. It’s the only type of fast food I will ever eat! More on the origins and etiquette of eating pizza here from the experts.
The pizza benchmark for me is master pizzaiolo Franco Pepe’s stone-walled pizza palace in Caiazzo, just outside Naples, Pepe in Grani – pictured below. The scientific attention to detail this meticulous man pays to the crafting of wood-fired pizza is exemplary. The whole prep and cooking process is all hand-made with an emphasis on the dough with the right amount of kneading and proofing – fluffy and spongey, the base is easy to digest. He sources ingredients from his Campania region only, and keeps his toppings simple. He is such a perfectionist, he threw a pizza away when I visited last year, because he wasn’t happy with the outcome. I was lucky enough to taste Franco’s pizza for a second time earlier this month whilst he was in Dubai for a guest chef appearance, and his ‘cornicione’ crust is hard to beat.
The key ingredients of most pizzas are of course, dough, tomatoes and mozzarella, which we’ll discuss in detail with the individual reviews in our FooDiva guide below on ‘Where To Eat Pizza In The UAE’. The inspiration for this round-up is pizza guru Daniel Young‘s book ‘Where To Eat Pizza‘ published by Phaidon earlier this year (disclosure – I was appointed the UAE contributor). So along with six guest reviewers, we’ve eaten our way through countless pizzerias over the last few months, from delivery joints to licensed trattorias and ristorantes to bring you a round-up of 21 pizzerias in the UAE. Note, we tried many more that we didn’t feel made the cut. So, here’s where to eat pizza in Dubai and Abu Dhabi – in alphabetical order. The price point indicates the cheapest and most expensive pizza on the menu. Buon appetito 🙂
- Bussola – a traditional wood-fired oven, freshly imported ingredients from Italy and a crispy Roman crust. Not only is the dough prepared three days in advance to retain a crackling crispy cornicione, the quality of the pizza toppings (especially the gorgeous parma ham and fior di latte cow’s milk mozzarella cheese) is absolutely divine. Helmed by an Italian chef who meanders from table to table describing with such enthusiasm the intricacy of pizza-making, Bussola’s pizzas uphold the hallmark qualities that give traditional Italian pizzas its famous reputation. INFO: AED70 – 105. The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina. T; +971 4 5117139. Open daily 6 – 11.45pm, and Friday/ Saturday 12 – 11.45pm. Licensed. REVIEWED BY JC.
- Casa Mia – a traditional Roman dough that wasn’t puffy or bubbled, but boasted a nice crispness. The oven is wood-fired with wood specially sourced from the Umbria region of Italy. Their dough is an 85/15 combination of 00 and whole-wheat flours, and proofed for an impressive 54 hours (surprising that the crust isn’t puffier despite this). The tomato sauce base is really full of flavour and delicious; I could’ve easily eaten just that. The tomatoes are fresh and robust. The mozzarella is fior di latte; delicious and slightly tangy. As for the toppings, the artichokes are sott’ollio (preserved in oil) as opposed to fresh; the porcini fresh and succulent; and the pork ham perfectly thin yet earthy in taste. INFO: AED34 – 86. Meridien Village Terrace, Le Meridien Hotel, Garhoud. T; +971 4 55091205. Open daily 12.30 – 4pm and 7.30 – 11.30pm. Delivery available. Licensed. REVIEWED BY SN.
- Eataly – these super thin Neapolitan pizzas are loaded with high quality products straight from Italy (also available to buy in the store), including mouth-watering buffalo and fior di latte mozzarella, Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano. Cooked in one of several wood-fired ovens, the freshness of the ingredients is apparent in every bite, with the tomato base tasting like they have just plucked the ripest tomatoes from the farm and blended them into a sauce. INFO: AED59 – 99. LG Floor, Dubai Mall. T; +971 800328259. Open daily 9am – 11:30pm and Thursday – Saturday until midnight. Also at Dubai Festival City. REVIEWED BY HOLLY.
- Fratelli La Bufala – here you will find wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas. The first thing you notice when you enter the restaurant is the waft of yeast from the made-to-order pizzas with toppings like San Marzano tomatoes, fior di latte mozzarella, parmesan and bresaola beef (all imported from Italy). The superb Margherita arrives as a generous portion, thin-crust with a chewy centre and fresh ingredients which tick all the flavour boxes. The two-page pizza selection here is very traditional in terms of toppings so will appeal to pizza purists. INFO: AED45 – 75. The Beach, Jumeirah Beach Residence. T; +971 4 4303497. Open daily 9am – 1am and Thursday to Saturday until 2am. Delivery available. REVIEWED BY JC.
- House of Pizza – the main differentiator when you order a pizza at this Canadian import is the mozzarella cheese. It’s so gooey you will find yourself battling with it the whole time you’re eating, definitely keeping this pizzeria off the menu for any first dates! A generous selection of toppings feature on top of the deep pan crust. The pizzas are cooked in a large electrical pizza oven and, although they appear quite small, they will fill you up before you know it. INFO: AED29 – 68. Golden Mile 1, Palm Jumeirah. T; +971 4 5149670. Open daily 10am – 10pm. Delivery available. REVIEWED BY HOLLY.
- Il Capo – forget the rather austere, classic surroundings, the pizzas here are authentic Neapolitan baked in a beech and cherry wood-fired oven imported from Napoli. The Italian chef only uses original buffalo mozzarella from Italy. Order the simple Margherita (but life’s too short not to add anchovies!) and you won’t go wrong. INFO: AED55 – 85. Westin Dubai Al Habtoor City, Sheikh Zayed road. T; +971 4 4355544. Open daily 7pm – midnight. Licensed. REVIEWED BY FOODIVA.
- Mambo Pizza Gourmet – it’s all about the pizza base at this unusual pizzeria which offers a mix of Italian and French influences, with the base tasting more like pastry than dough. Loaded with fresh ingredients and gooey cheeses, the extensive menu of over 30 pizzas, all cooked in the brick pizza oven, will leave every pizza lover lost for words and salivating at the thought of their first bite. The sauce is made using organic, locally grown tomatoes, and although not used on all pizzas, buffalo mozzarella does feature on the menu, as well as a selection of other cheeses, like ricotta, parmesan, reblochon, gorgonzola and a goat’s cheese. INFO: AED41 – 60. Tiffany Tower, Cluster W, JLT. T; 800 62626. Open daily 11.30am – 11.30pm. Delivery available. REVIEWED BY HOLLY.
- Marina Social by Jason Atherton – this restaurant may be a British ‘celebrity’ chef’s Dubai outpost, but Jason Atherton does make a mean pizza, or rather his Italian chef does. In fact he often takes his sour dough culture home with him. They launched their menu with so-called ‘flatbreads’, which are in fact bloody good sour dough pizzas which they soon rebranded 😉 There are only four options – my two favourites are both rich in toppings – Reblochon cheese, Wagyu cecina, caramelised onions and rocket – and pulled lamb, basil pesto, courgette and buffalo milk ricotta cheese. INFO: All are AED85. Intercontinental Dubai Marina. T; +971 4 4466664. Open daily 7pm – midnight. Licensed. REVIEWED BY FOODIVA.
- Náis Italian Kitchen – what stands out the most when eating a Náis pizza is the fresh taste and high quality of the ingredients. Their small selection of only three pizzas are made ‘Al Tegamino’, a pan-crust style of Torino, the owner’s home town in the northern Piemonte region of Italy, with a thick, bready base and handfuls of delicious toppings. The tomatoes used are all organic and the burrata on the highly recommended Burrata Al Tegamino pizza is imported from Italy, perfectly complemented by homemade pesto Genovese. Don’t be fooled by the small size of the pizzas, as the thick base fills you up quicker than you would expect! INFO: AED29 – 48. HDS Tower, Cluster F, JLT. T; +971 4 4529991. Open daily 11.30am – 9pm. Delivery available. REVIEWED BY HOLLY.
- Pinza! – the pizza base here is unusually made of 80% water and 20% flour (typically it’s the reverse). Extremely light, with the base tasting more like a thin slice of ciabatta bread than a regular pizza, the majority of the ingredients are sourced from Italy or elsewhere in Europe, with the high quality and freshness apparent from the first bite. With 16 pizzas to choose from, as well as the option of going half-half, the combination of toppings is unique, with ingredients like aubergine, potato, Wagyu sausage and crushed walnuts. Be sure to save space for a sweet ending with the naughty Nutella pizza. INFO: AED25 – 50. Sobha Ivory 1, Business Bay. T;+971 80074692. Open daily 10:30am – 10:45pm and Thursday to Saturday until 12:30am. Also at La Riviera Estates, Jumeirah Village Circle. T; +971 80074692. Open Saturday – Wednesday 11am – 10:30pm, Thursday 11am – 12:30am and Friday 12noon – 10:30pm. Delivery available at both locations. REVIEWED BY HOLLY.
- Red Tomato – this little gem in the heart of Barsha offers an impressive pizza selection with high quality ingredients. Expect thin Roman-style pizzas with bubbly sourdough charred crust, baked to perfection in their wood-fired oven. With a range of toppings to suit the finickiest of diners, the cheese selection includes buffalo and fior di latte mozzarellas imported straight from Italy. Try the Spinaci e Ricotta, which arrives with sautéed spinach and fresh ricotta cheese giving the pizza a rich, mouthwatering bite. What keeps me returning for more? The consistent execution. There’s comfort in knowing you will undoubtedly get that crispy-chewy crust and perfectly balanced ratio of sauce, cheese and generous toppings. INFO: AED 48 – 68. Saleh Bin Lahej Building, Shop 7, Barsha 1. 800-TOMATO (866286). Open daily 11.30am – 2am. Delivery available. REVIEWED BY LOLLY.
- Rossovivo – run by two Roman friends with a pizza chef from Naples, this is a joint for Neapolitan pizza purists. The clay brick-oven and wood-fired pizzas are as authentic as those in Naples. The hot air rolls over the top of the pizza, while the bricks seal the base immediately to make it firm. Free of artificial additives and preservatives, the dough is leavened for 24 hours, which also helps make it light and fluffy. The pizza arrives with a dense ‘cornicione’ crust while slightly soft and supple in the middle, staying true to the traditional recipe from Naples – tender, elastic and easily foldable into four. My favourite pizzas are the classic Napoli, the Bufalina with buffalo mozzarella, and for a slice of creativity, the Raffaelo which oozes mozzarella, pistachio, bresaola, cream and basil. INFO: AED36 – 60. Office Park, Media City (T; +971 4 4272477) and Millennium Tower, Business Bay (T; +971 4 3805833). Open daily 11am – 11pm and on weekends until 11.30pm. Delivery available. REVIEWED BY FOODIVA.
- Russo’s New York Pizzeria – the pizzas at this American import are New York style with a dense base and rich toppings. So rich you only need order the simple(r) Margherita. As an aside (and a side!) the eggplant parmigiana is absolutely delicious. INFO: AED50 – 73. Jumeirah Centre (T; +971 3856549), Dalma Mall and Al Wahda Mall in Abu Dhabi. Open daily 10am – 11pm. Delivery available. REVIEWED BY FOODIVA.
- Sicilia – beautifully puffed and charred Neapolitan crust with the right balance of thin crispness on the outside, and just the right amount of chew on the bite. The flavour imparted from the wood-fired oven is evident in the look and taste. The sweetness from the tomato base is balanced by the right dose of herbs. As for the toppings – plump porcini mushrooms, fresh grilled artichoke hearts, and scattered slices of delicious salty pork sausage. Top notch buffalo mozzarella, and even paired with taleggio for a whole lot of cheesy goodness. INFO: AED60-90. Movenpick Hotel Ibn Battuta Gate. T; +971 4 4445613. Open daily 12.30 – 2:30pm, 7 – 11pm. Licensed. REVIEWED BY SN.
- Solo – a high-end Italian restaurant now under new ownership with a wood-fired pizza menu. The Roman crust is so feather light and crispy you’ll be begging for more. My go-to pizza is topped with prosciutto (hoorah a pork licence!), rucola and parmesan. Note; we’ve yet to return to try the pizzas since the chef changed. INFO: AED60 – 95. Raffles Dubai, Wafi. T; +971 4 3248888. Open daily 12.30 – 3pm and 7pm – midnight. Licensed. REVIEWED BY FOODIVA.
- Trattoria Toscana – the nine pizzas on the menu at this casual trattoria with an Italian chef and restaurant manager on Souk Madinat’s waterfront are a mix of Neapolitan and Roman cooking styles. But, in my opinion, lean more towards the former. So supple you can fold it in half. The cornicione crust is crispy (and hence the nod towards Roma). Interestingly, the wood-fired oven is heated to around 330C which is more in keeping with Roman pizzas (for Neapolitan expect 400C+). The dough made from white Napoli flour is proofed for 24 hours. 90% of produce is sourced from Italy including the buffalo mozzarella and the San Marzano tomatoes in the excellent Buffalina pizza. However locally sourced cow’s milk mozzarella (fior di latte) is also on the menu, present in the Bresaola pizza. INFO: AED75 – 105. Souk Madinat Jumeirah, on the waterfront. T; +971 4 3666318. Open daily 12noon – midnight. Licensed. REVIEWED BY FOODIVA.
- Carluccios – Carluccios offer good pizza at an excellent price. The cooking in the brick oven produces a quality Roman crust that allows the four cheeses that make up the base to do their job. I’d love to see a richer tomato base and more cherry tomatoes (imported) on my Margherita to elevate this pizza to outstanding. INFO: AED39 – 66. The Galleria Mall, Maryah Island (T; +971 2 6771261). Open daily from 10am until 10pm and on Friday/ Saturday until midnight. Eastern Mangroves (T; +971 2 6412231). Open daily 9am – midnight. Delivery available. REVIEWED BY MATT.
- Jazz @ Pizza Express – simply, the best pizza in Abu Dhabi. The flavours of the rectangular-based Calabrese are stupendous and bring a beaming smile to my face. I usually eat half a pizza and finish the other half the following day. Not at Pizza Express, as I hungrily shovel the whole lot into my mouth. Their thicker, classic base is complemented on the menu by the option of a Romano base. The tomato sauce tastes as if cooked by a real, Italian grandmother and is supported by a delectably soft, baby mozzarella. The clever chorizo paste adds saltiness and even the wild rocket has been dressed to make the whole pizza make perfect sense. My advice? Go to Pizza Express, order the Calabrese, go home happy. INFO: AED52 – 92. The Hub, World Trade Centre Mall. T; +971 2 4447752. Open daily 12noon – midnight. Delivery available. Licensed. REVIEWED BY MATT.
- Mondo Pizzeria – Mondo Pizzeria has a wild, varied menu that covers almost every flavour you can think of. A menu that includes truffles, foie gras, lobster, and octopus has got to be worth a try if you are feeling brave and experimental. The Arabica uses imported mozzarella and halloumi with chicken, sun-dried tomato, roasted garlic and rocket leaves to combine the Middle East with Italy, in a beechwood oven. However, too many ingredients on each pizza can lead to confusion so my advice is to select the pizza you want and ask for one or two of the listed ingredients to be removed. The thin-crust base is cooked well. INFO: AED40 – 75. Abu Dhabi Country Club. T; +971 2 6577785. Open daily 10am – midnight. Delivery available. Licensed. REVIEWED BY MATT.
- Pizza di Rocco – I order the Fattoria pizza for home delivery – topped with tomato sauce, cow’s milk mozzarella, caramelised onions, sun-dried tomatoes, pesto, roasted pine nuts and goat’s cheese. I add chicken for an extra protein kick, plus I change the pizza base to whole wheat flour in an attempt to be healthy! Their pizzas are baked in a gas oven with a stone hearth at very high temperatures, over 350C. This makes for a thin and crispy Roman-style base. Excellent pizza, delivered hot and crisp. Sweet tangy onions and salty mellow goat’s cheese with a pesto kick in every bite – you can take or leave the chicken though! INFO: AED30 – 65. Al Salam Street and Etihad Plaza, Abu Dhabi. T:+971 2 8853222. Open daily 11am – 2am. Delivery available. REVIEWED BY NC.
- Tawa Bakery – Tawa Bakery is 100% gluten-free and so I prepare myself for the same disappointment that other gluten-free pizzas have previously given me. I could not have been more wrong. The owner and the head chef have worked incredibly hard to produce a thin-crust base that does not crumble in their flexible, electric oven, yet has the same texture as a regular pizza. The crust even holds its own when reheated the next day. The regular and premium mozzarella cheese used is sourced both locally and imported from Italy to get the perfect stringiness into the luscious cheese base. The tomato sauce is finger-licking good and well-balanced, using European ingredients. I would happily eat gluten-free pizza at Tawa, again. INFO: AED45 – 65. Al Muneera Beach Plaza, Al Raha. T; +971 2 5566900. Open daily 8am – 11pm. REVIEWED BY MATT.
Do you have any other favourite pizza joints to add to our round-up? Share your feedback here or on social media using the hashtag #WhereToEatPizzaUAE 🙂
Disclosure – in some cases with these reviews, FooDiva and her guest reviewers paid their own way, and in others they were hosted. As always, the opinions expressed here are theirs alone.
— FooDiva (@FooDivaWorld) November 20, 2016