Neapolitain chain's first Dubai venue offers great pizza 5 Reviews
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Brandi Pizzeria stormed into town boasting of its heritage-packed pizza-making credentials. It’s apparently a Neapolitan brand dating back to 1780, home of the humble but now-ubiquitous Margherita. Despite this, my Italian pal, who accompanied me for the evening, had never heard of it – she thought the name sounded suspiciously like an attempted Italianisation of the word ‘brand’.
Unlike its fanfare-fuelled launch, our reception at the restaurant was a little cooler. Perhaps it was the overactive A/C, or the fairly empty dining room, or the imposing look of the slanting, granite-like walls. With every graphic angle they reminded me of Expressionist depictions of architecture, and a famous monument in Berlin, both of which aim to engender feelings of alienation and isolation. Not a great start.
Yet I rather liked this stark and supra-modern hinterland – we even had a sort of sideways view of the Dubai Fountain from inside. It’s just a shame that they’d ruined it with a jarring mix of stereotypical trattoria tat, such as the checked table cloths. At least the pizza credentials became a little clearer at the sight of the large wood-fired pizza oven and open counter where the pizzas were made.
A quick glance at the menu revealed a decent selection of antipasti platters, classic pizza recipes and ever-so-very-slightly more inventive-sounding options, plus salads and a small but decent children’s menu. Focusing on the pizza, we ordered one from each menu-style, along with some starters and a salad, making sure the waiter knew that we planned to share everything, family-style.
The first error was that our request was misinterpreted (how, I don’t care to guess), and before we’d seen fin or scale of our fishy antipasti, both pizzas arrived at our table in what seemed like a matter of minutes. Despite the confusion, the pizzas really were quite boast-worthy. The Don Raffaele (a four-cheese mix of gorgonzola, provolone, parmesan and fiordilatte) was excellent, with a deep blue-cheese, mouth-filling tang offering a background to the other varying degrees of soft and sharp cheese flavours. The base was perfectly cooked, and the crust had an incredible texture, like nothing I’d encountered before – it left me wondering whether a cheeky handful of polenta was thrown into the mix to create that sweet, soft chewiness.
The base of the Margherita was almost as spectacular (certainly the crust was), but the tomato sauce was too wet, which had left the centre of the base a bit soggy. Nevertheless, the flavour of the toppings was good, and from the first bite I was hit with the distinction and clarity of the creamy cheese and aromatic basil.
Not long after we’d tried a slice each pizza, every other dish we’d ordered began to arrive and was placed on the table together. Suddenly, as deliciously colourful as it all looked, the quantity of food seemed intimidating. Undeterred, we tucked in to the sapori di mare (seafood platter), a mixed affair with nice-enough smoked salmon and smoked tuna, but ropey-tasting deep-fried prawns (why deep fry it if you’ve left the shell on?), and some chewy, dull whitebait. The bruschette di mare, a platter of seafood bruschetta, was inconsistent – some of the bread was perfectly crisp, while other slices were soggy and drowned in olive oil – and featured an inspiring selection that included a mound of tinned tuna, described as ‘tuna pâté’ on the menu.
The ‘maschio angioino’ salad was decently mixed and generously sized, but the tasty roast pumpkin was limited to four slithers and the prawns were nothing special – they also hadn’t been deveined properly.
Having said that, nothing was appalling – it was all edible, but perhaps it just couldn’t live up to the pizza. Sadly, once we’d ventured back to those wonderful pizzas after our starters, they were stone-cold and had lost their charm.
Despite the confusing but pleasant service, despite the disaster-zone-worthy decor, and despite some of the sketchy dishes, I implore you to stop by at Brandi at least once. Just stick to the super-speedy pizza and run.
The bill (for two)
1x large water Dhs12
1X sapori di mare Dhs49
1x bruschetta di mare Dhs45
1x Margherita pizza Dhs52
1x Don Rafael pizza Dhs52
1x salad Dhs41
2x espresso Dhs32
Total (excluding service) Dhs283
Time Out Dubai,
Time Out reviews restaurants anonymously and pays for meals. Of course, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or independence of user reviews.