From dial up to dine in we've eaten the best pizzas in Dubai
Time Out Dubai staff
The Italians invented it. The Americans (who apparently buy a staggering 350 slices a second) have appropriated it as their own. Now, around the world, we all eat it, regularly, and with gusto. Proving pizza is an international favourite, among the Time Out Dubai team, we’ve even eaten pizza in Cambodia. Here in Dubai, the scope of pizza covers decadently truffle topped, super-model skinny, and even proudly locally grown. After ordering and eating our weight in cheese and dough, we’ve found Dubai’s definitive list of gourmet pizza.
Dine In Alla Capricciosa at Casa Mia The pizzas at this quaint, themed restaurant are fantastic – thin, crispy, authentic, a slightly blackened crust – with the Alla Capricciosa a particular highlight: layered with marinated mushrooms, artichokes, sautéed peppers and olives. Yum.
Best for: An authentic dinner date in a moody faux-trattoria.
If this pizza were a song, it would be: ‘That’s Amore’ by Dean Martin. It’s very Italian – and we love it. Dhs57. Le Méridien Dubai, Garhoud (04 702 2500).
Bianca al tartufo at Positano This is a simple recipe with a cheesy, creamy base, and little else on top. It looks unassuming. But since that cheese is a 24-month aged Parmesan, topped with black truffle oil, the flavours are tangy, woody, full bodied, and dominant. Along with an excellent, classic base that is light, doughy and crisp in all the right places, this is a successfully understated affair.
Best for: Classic and simple Italian pizzas.
If this pizza were a song, it would be: ‘I Dreamed a Dream’, sung by Susan Boyle. It isn’t much to look at, but the flavours are surprisingly bold. Dhs70. JW Marriott Marquis, Business Bay, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 414 3000).
Bufalina at Rosso The Bufalina pizza is packed with fresh ingredients, and the bright green basil is a nice contrast to the white buffalo mozzarella and tangy tomato sauce. The crust is delicious, crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy underneath. Definite value for money.
Best for: A bustling Italian environment
If this pizza were a song, it would be: ‘Ti Amo’. We really love this simple but classic Italian offering. Dhs75. Amwaj Rotana, The Walk, JBR (04 428 2000).
Trevigiana at Lounge Café Italiano Threatening ‘an approach to dining similar to that found in your own home’, Lounge Café Italiano thankfully ditches bitterness, recrimination and arguing over the remote in favour of a friendly vibe and fresh flavours. The Trevigiana’s salt (bresaola, parmesan shavings) and pepper (arugula) combination has a punchy, smack-in-the-mouth simplicity. The confidence sadly doesn’t stretch to a base too dense to do them proper justice.
Best for: A no-frills, filling work lunch.
If this pizza were a song, it would be: ‘Man Of Constant Sorrow’, because it’s by the Soggy Bottom Boys Dhs60. Arenco Tower, Dubai Media City (04 4533318).
Carnivore at Apres This pizza is not for the faint-hearted. The delicious meat fest consists of diced Angus steak, pepperoni, chorizo sausage, grilled chicken, mushrooms and roasted red peppers with a typical tomato and mozzarella base. Arriving piping hot, fresh from the oven, the thin crust base was cooked to perfection. Overall it’s mouth-wateringly good and satisfying for those with a big appetite.
Best for: A pit-stop after working up an appetite at the mall
If this pizza were a song it would be: ‘Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough’ by Michael Jackson. You will be satisfied. Dhs75. Apres, Mall of the Emirates, Al Barsha (04 341 2575).
Diavola at Carluccios When it comes to pizza, sometimes you just want to go back to basics with a no fuss topping. The Diavola is a simple favourite, with spicy beef pepperoni, mozzarella and tomato base. While it’s undeniably tasty, it lacks a good helping of tomato sauce, and is more crust than cheesy deliciousness. The same goes for the mozzarella – a little extra wouldn’t hurt.
Best for: Sharing with family and friends in relaxed surroundings.
If this pizza were a song it would be: ‘Back to Basics’ by The Shapeshifters. Nothing special. What you see is what you get. Dhs46. Carluccios, Marina Mall, Dubai Marina (04 399 7844).
Don Eduardo at Brandi An Italian import, Brandi’s appetisers are a little disappointing, but don’t let that put you off ordering one of its expertly prepared pizzas. Watch the dough tossed and stretched before your eyes before being smothered in fresh, quality toppings and slid into the oven. Fans of hot and cold combos should opt for the Don Eduardo, a focaccia-dough base, baked with olive oil and herbs and then topped with creamy burrata, rocket, cherry tomatoes, shaved parmesan, olive oil and a sprinkling of salt. Bellissimo!
Best for: A shockingly good mid-shop meal.
If this pizza were a song, it would be: ‘Don’t Speak’ by No Doubt. You’ll be too busy stuffing your face. Dhs98. The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai (04 425 3336).
Gramo pizza at Gramo At this new JLT Italian restaurant, the signature pizza is described on the menu as topped with porcini mushrooms. They were actually ordinary button mushrooms. Even so, this combination, with truffle oil, plenty of cheese (two types in fact, parmesan and mozzarella) and plenty of fresh green rocket added at the last minute makes for a pizza that is bright and attractive, fresh and full of flavour. The base is a thoroughly untraditional crunchy, biscuit crust, but with a lovely golden hue, and works well in its own right.
Best for: An affordable and informal experience in JLT
If this pizza were a song, it would be: ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Kate Bush. It’s topped with the best things you’ll find in the woods and a bit unpredictable, but still quite racy. Dhs52. Indigo Icon Tower, Cluster F, JLT (800 47266).
Marinara with fresh spicy sardines at Sicilia Specialising in Sicilian-style eats, this restaurant serves up generous bases with a crisp bottom and golden, doughy crusts. This particular pizza is lavishly dressed with tomato sauce, plump black olives, chilli, sweet cherry tomatoes, creamy blobs of burrata and thick fillets of marinated sardines, with a bitey acidic tang.
Best for: Seafood lovers in search of something more refined that tinned tuna toppings.
If this pizza were a song it would be: ‘Never Be The Same Again’ by Melanie C. You’ll be looking at your pizzas through different eyes after eating this. Dhs58. Mövenpick Hotel Ibn Battuta Gate Dubai (04 444 5613).
Padana at Jazz@PizzaExpress Considering pizzas are what this chain is known for, expect a decent selection with classic options as well as a selection inspired by the pizzas of Rome, which claim to be bigger and crispier. The Padana is one such Romano pizza and is deliciously smothered in a combination of mozzarella and goat cheese on top of tangy tomato sauce. Topped with spinach and red onions as well as a good helping of garlic oil it tastes delicious. The downside of all these rich ingredients is that the crust is left a little soggy in the centre.
Best for: A casual bite.
If this pizza were a song, it would be: ‘Stuck in the Middle with You’. The soggy centre is hard to forget. Dhs62. Cluster A, JLT (04 441 6342).
Pesto at Boardwalk Promising freshly baked pizza with an Instagram-worthy view to boot, pizzas here come out of the large stone oven looking and smelling divine. This is a simple pizza with grilled chicken, asparagus thinly cut and scattered about on a base of fresh, herby pesto. To taste, though, it’s dry and rather bland, with no distinctive flavour or kick.
Best for: Spectacular views of the Creek.
If this pizza were a song it would be: ‘I’m Coming Out’ by Diana Ross. This pizza needs to come out of its shell, be bolder and more expressive. Dhs56. Boardwalk, Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, Deira (04 295 6000).
Picante at Urbano Urbano is a giant pizzeria with terrace views of The Dubai Fountain and Burj Khalifa. The pizza, despite a great play at authenticity, is disappointing. A thin crust lacks much in the way of flavour and there’s not enough tomato or cheese to get our senses tingling. The toppings on the picante pizza we ordered, however, were generous, with a (very mildly) spiced shredded beef, chipotle chicken, pepperoni and crispy beef bacon covering the entire surface.
Best for: Casual dining at one of the city’s best attractions.
If it were a song it would be: ‘Time to Say Goodbye’ by Andrea Bocelli. Authentically Italian, well presented and, most probably, being played on The Dubai Fountain soundtrack as you eat. Dhs80. Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai (04 435 57777).
Pizza con caprino at Ronda Locatelli With a giant wood fired oven taking prominence in the open plan kitchen, Ronda Locatelli has a sizeable pizza selection. The Con Caprino is one of the restaurant’s specialities, composed of creamy goat’s cheese, sundried tomatoes, huge garlic chunks and pine kernels on a perfectly crisp base. Interestingly, there’s no sauce, which while not necessarily a bad thing, we would expect to have seen mentioned on the menu. It also makes this drier to eat than the average recipe.
Best for: Something different (or simply those with a fresh tomato aversion).
If this pizza were a song, it would be: ‘Something’s Missing’ by John Mayer. As tasty as it is, it feels incomplete. Dhs85. Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 426 000).
Tartufata at Cucina Mia Cucina Mia is known for two things: ‘pizza by the metre’, and truffles. Forgoing size for taste, try the speciality Tarufata – at Dhs130 per 25cm, it costs more than double every other pizza on the menu. Why? Because it’s loaded with black truffles, as well as porcini mushrooms and cheese, and nothing else. The result is a rich, powerful (and perhaps even overwhelming) flavour sensation.
Best for: Truffle fanatics.
If this pizza were a song, it would be: ‘Material Girl’ by Madonna. Rich, pricey, and unashamedly in-your-face. Dhs130 (per 25cm). Trident Grand Residence Building (opposite Le Royal Meridien), JBR (04 425 9696).
Tonna at Eataly The giant Italian superdeli sells premium pastas, sauces, breads and snacks to take away. Pizzas at the dine-in area at the back are freshly made and Italian-style with thin crusts, a good spread of sauce and a pleasantly gooey cheese. A fuss is made over the quality of the flours and sauce used and it is possible to taste the difference, with a rich flavour complimented by the topping, in our case tuna (seemingly from a can). Staff recommend it is eaten ‘Naples style’ with a knife and fork rather than by hand.
Best for: High standard dining in a shopping mall.
If it were a song it would be: ‘Under The Sea’ from The Little Mermaid. You might be put off by the fish before you start but the quality and presentation shine through and before long everybody will enjoy. Dhs62. The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai (04 330 8899).
Toscana pizza at Toscana This bustling Italian spot has a classic pizza selection as well as some specialities. The Toscana comes on a base that’s a decent thickness and neither soggy nor too crispy, despite the excess oil on the toppings. Eggplant marinated in herbs, black olives and tangy sundried tomatoes fuse nicely with the creamy goat’s cheese, and the slight hint of truffle essence which gives this one a rich, distinctive flavour.
Best for: Treating the family.
If this pizza were a song, it would be: ‘Savoy Truffle’ by The Beatles. Delicious with a hint of gluttonous guilt. Dhs70, Madinat Jumeirah, Al Sufouh (04 366 6730).
Takeway Bresaola at Vapiano Vapiano is an international brand which offers fresh classic pizza – no fussy ingredients and weird combinations, just straight up tasty treats, and boy does it deliver. The base is light and thin, with tasty toppings of tender beef bresaola, zippy bright green rocket and complemented by a combination of mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
Best for: Restaurant quality to your doorstep.
If this pizza were a song, it would be: ‘So Fresh, So Clean’ by Outkast. Even though it’s a delivery pizza it still arrives tasting just cooked. Dhs55. Dubai Media City (04 4370786).
Buffalo Chicken Pizza at Flippin’ Pizza All was going so well with the delicious sounding pizza and the friendly service. And the prompt delivery was impressive as well. Sadly, the pizza is a let-down. While the ingredients of grilled chicken, buffalo, blue cheese and mozzarella were in generous supply on the thin and crusty base, a liberal drizzling of hot sauce gives it a synthetic taste that drowns out everything else.
Best for: Those looking for a quickly delivered pizza.
If this pizza were a song, it would be: ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ by The Who. It’s probably best to stick to the simpler sounding offerings in the city. From Dhs34. Ibn Battuta Mall, The Gardens (800 354 7746).
Four meat at Itzza Pizza An archetypal pizza delivery joint, which also serves burgers and calzones. Despite being a specialty the pizza is disappointing, with a too-thin, yet firm crust and not enough gooeyness from mozzarella or tomato sauce to make it moist. Of the 25 varieties we tried a four meat and although the roast beef is interesting the homemade sausage is too chewy and pepperoni and bacon forgettable. Metre-long rectangular build-your own options are available for parties. Or greedy people.
Best for: JLT residents looking for a quick carb fix.
If it were a song it would be: Anything by a boy band. Very cheesy, not much substance and with four lumps of meat as much for decoration as anything else. Dhs54. Al Waleed Paradise, Cluster R, JLT (04 454 2805).
Hell’s Kitchen at Pitfire Specialising in locally sourced ingredients, Pitfire serves pizza both whole and by the slice, with thin, crispy bases and enormous, puffy crusts around the edge. A small, funky kiosk with a place to sit and grab a quick bite, the main business done here is takeaway and delivery. Try weekly specials such as blue cheese and potato, or opt for one of the menu’s classics – the Hell’s Kitchen in particular won’t let you down. A classically hot and hearty combo of mushrooms, black olives, jalapenos, chilli flakes and fatty pepperoni. They even bring you a little pot of sriracha hot sauce to help blow the cobwebs away.
Best for: Satisfying even the most epic morning-after hunger pangs.
If this pizza were a song, it would be: ‘Cotton Eye Joe’ by Rednex. You know you shouldn’t love it, but you do. Dhs54. The Greens Village Centre, The Greens (04 431 5759).
Herb Chicken Mediterranean deLITE at Papa Murphy’s The JLT pizzeria specialises in takeaways and deliveries, uniquely offering a ‘Take ’N’ Bake’ service, where your pizza is assembled with all the toppings you wish for, and sent to you to bake fresh in your oven at home. Most interesting to Dubai’s calorie-conscious population, however, is the thin crust deLITE, which promises 40 percent fewer calories and 30 percent less fat than the original crust. The herb chicken is a winning combination of garlic, mozzarella, spinach, chicken, sun-dried tomatoes and feta, plus an olive oil sauce (though we swapped ours for the herb tomato sauce for an even healthier meal).
Best for: A midweek takeaway, when you need your cheesy carb fix without the guilt.
If this pizza were a song, it would be: R Kelly’s ‘I Believe I Can Fly’, because it’s just so gosh-darn light. Dhs47 regular, Dhs58 grande. JLT, www.papamurphysme.com (04 368 8151).
La Capricciosa at Pizzaro A cut above fast food joints but not quite the godfather of Italian dining, this place churns out traditional Italian wood-fired pizzas, with thin, floury crusts that are a tad on the soggy side. Topped with overpowering vinegary artichoke, turkey ham, black olives and mushrooms and a disappointingly restrained amount of mozzarella cheese, there’s also the option to request a base of fresh chopped tomatoes.
Best for: Family lunch.
If this pizza were a song, it would be: Pulp’s ‘Common People’… It’s rustic and homely. Dhs46. Pizzaro, various locations including opposite Mall of the Emirates, Al Barsha 1 (04 440 9302).
Margherita con buffalo at 800 Pizza This takeaway place has loads of pizzas to choose from and offers three types of dough: regular, whole-wheat or gluten free. The margherita con buffalo is a razor-thin and crispy pie, topped with creamy buffalo mozzarella and bright red tomato sauce made from delicious marzano tomatoes and spread to just the right consistency. It’s a decent pizza, and for a takeaway joint leaves us pleasantly surprised. We’d perhaps add a touch of spice or some seasoning to truly perfect it, but that’s just us being picky.
Best for: Restaurant quality pizza in your living room.
If this pizza were a song, it would be: ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams, as that’s how you’ll feel munching its deliciousness while sitting on the sofa in your pyjamas. Dhs57, 800Pizza, various locations including Marina Hotel Apartments (800 74 992).
New York Style Vegetarian at Russo’s New York Pizzeria American export Russo’s specialises in both ‘Napoletana’ and ‘New York-style’ pizzas – but you can guess which they excel at (it’s all in the name). Hand-crafted and blasted in a brick oven, Russo’s pizzas are thick without being stodgy, with tasty homemade tomato sauce and garden-fresh vegetables – in this case fresh spinach, tomatoes, bell peppers, white onion, mushrooms and black olives. Russo’s also serve massive 28 inch party pizzas, which feed up to ten people.
Best for: Stress-free party catering.
If this pizza were a song, it would be: ‘Fresh’ by Kool & the Gang, because it’s bursting with fresh veggie flavours. Dhs45 (medium); Dhs60 (large). Jumeirah Centre; Jumeirah 1, www.facebook.com/RussosUAE (800 787767).
Porcini at Rosso Vivo This home-grown but Italian owned pizza company prides itself on native credentials, including a specialist oven, hand-built and flown in from the old country. As such, while some of Rosso Vivo’s pizzas are unique and creative, the spirit is true to its roots. Fans of the woody and earthy flavours of mushroom and truffle will barely be able to contain themselves at the whole-hearted barrage of flavour on the porcini pizza, where an umami-flooded base of cream of porcini and mozzarella plays bass note to squiggy, buttery and delicious chunks of porcini mushroom, with a little truffle oil aroma as the final flourish. Oh, and the base is pretty excellent too.
Best for: A 100 percent Italian pizza experience, delivered to your door.
If this pizza were a song, it would be: ‘Tu Vuò Fa’ L’Americano’ by Renato Carosone. Unashamedly Italian, because anything else would be just ridiculous. Dhs58. Millenium Tower, Business Bay (04 380 5833). Other location: Office Park Building, Dubai Internet City (04 427 2477).
Fashionista at Nonno This week’s cover-star pizza earned the accolade for two reasons. Firstly for its paper-thin crust (so thin, in fact, that Nonno offers terrific ‘rolled’ versions of their entire selection). And, secondly, for its frankly ludicrous toppings. Crazy though both they and the Dhs395 price will sound, the taste of the Fashionista is excellent – the sweetness of the exquisite sundried tomatoes working in wonderful contrast with the salty smoothness of the beluga caviar. It’s a fit as unlikely as Naomi Campbell and DIY, but it works.
Best for: Those out to impress.
If this pizza were a song, it would be: George Michael’s ‘Faith’, because if ever there was a pizza supermodels would love, this is it. Dhs395. Nonno, Bay Avenue Mall, Business Bay (800 696 6666).
Superbiotic at NKD Pizza The most enticing thing about NKD Pizza is not the alarmingly quick delivery time, but the fact that fresh ingredients are organic and locally grown, meaning you can tone down the guilt a little when you order from here. The healthy sounding ‘superbiotic’ is crammed with toppings of artichoke, spinach, bell peppers, mushrooms, garlic, red onion and coriander. And it tastes exceptionally nutritious. Adding to the wholesome, yet satisfying qualities of this pizza is the floury, fluffy base of the ‘original’ pizza, which is more like tucking in to freshly baked artisanal bread than the average flatbread crust.
Best for: A speedy, but also healthier, delivery pizza.
If this pizza were a song, it would be: ‘Fit But You Know It’ by The Streets. A tasty, yet fresh and (relatively) healthier option, and that’s its selling point. From Dhs32 (small). Various locations, www.nkdpizza.com.