Have you ever met anyone that doesn’t like pizza? Is there ever a day when pizza is not a good idea? Of course not.
Pizza is probably one of the dishes that has gone fully global. Available in every country in the world, and being one of the cheapest dishes in most countries, it has become accessible to more people than any other dish. And of course global influences have meant thousands of variations on the traditional pizza flavours as well as the recent rise of the gourmet pizza. Let’s talk about the original pizzas and where they came from, some current variations and where you can get the best pizza in Dubai!
Originally, pizza derives from focaccia, another delicious Italian staple that we can’t do without. The flat bread has a long history and is traditionally made with herbs, olives and nuts. The word pizza also means a flat bread, which explains why it’s Greek brother is called pita and there are many other variations in the Mediterranean.
The actual pizza as we know it comes from Naples and would have been called laganae and then picea, made with garlic and olive oil, cheese and anchovies, baked on an open fire and sometimes closed like a calzone. More and more places opened up that served pizza, with wood-fired ovens, but they served it to poor people only – pizza was considered too simple for the middle and higher classes! It was not until the 1770s when tomato was added that more chefs and richer people started to pay attention to pizza. Eventually it became so famous the King wanted it to be added to the menu of his court and ultimately a pizza oven was installed at the palace.
The first pizzeria opened in the US in 1905 following the wave of Italian immigrants, but did not become popular with Americans until soldiers started coming back from WWII, having eaten pizza while fighting in Italy!
The best pizzas are still considered to come from Naples, always made with buffalo mozzarella, although of course variations have popped up all over Italy and globally, adding ingredients to create regional and local favourites. The Napoletana is simple with tomato, garlic, oil and oregano.
In 1889, Margherita was the queen of Italy, and she visited Naples. She demanded to taste this pizza she had been hearing about so much, and her favourite was one that had mozzarella, basil and tomato, which conveniently also matched the colours of the national flag. From then on this was called the Margherita Pizza.
Marinara refers to a mixture of tomatoes, garlic, herbs and onions. On a pizza it usually involves adding anchovies, capers and olives although this is not strictly speaking part of the recipe.
Very popular in the US, this is pizza with a spicy salami. It has its origins in Italy though, and can be found in the Calabria region south of Naples, where this type of hot sausage is produced.
Quattro Stagione is the pizza for the undecided. Stagione means season, but basically you get four flavours in one pizza, with each quarter having a different topping. Traditionally the four toppings are artichokes (spring), tomatoes and basil (summer), mushrooms (autumn) and prosciutto (ham, winter).
Verdure simply means vegetables, so this pizza comes topped with vegetables such as bell peppers and zucchini.
The tuna pizza is quite popular, made with canned tuna and onions.
Given the popularity of pizza across the US, it is no surprise that states have developed their own variations. New York style pizza is a thin crust and a thin layer of cheese and sauce, and often sold by the slice.
Chicago has developed the deep dish pizza, cooked in a pan with a crust to hold the sauce and cheese. In this style, the cheese goes in first, and the tomato sauce goes on top.
The Midwest’s pizza is a thin crust, crispy variation with local cheese and lots of oregano and spices, usually cut into squares.
Although this has nothing to do with Hawaii, it has become a universal name for the pizza with pineapple. Sometimes it is served with ham or bacon.
Today places are inventing new pizzas with ingredients that would have been frowned upon in Naples in the 18th century, including chicken, pineapple and ground beef. Taking it to the next level is the recent gourmet pizza trend which includes freshly made crusts and creative ingredients. With the gluten free and health trends nowadays, crusts are made of quinoa, cauliflower and zucchini, whilst new ingredients include fresh seafood, venison, duck and Mexican spices. Thai pizza includes bean sprouts and peanut sauce and breakfast pizzas come with bacon and scrambled eggs. And let’s not forget dessert pizzas with marshmallows and chocolate or fruit pizzas made with a base of watermelon and topped with yoghurt and fresh fruits.
It’s so hard. You’re trying to eat healthy and not eat too many carbs, especially later in the day. But pizza is so tasty and Monday nights are just hard without pizza…
Forget about the calories. Fresh pizza made with a real crust, fresh tomatoes and olive oil is of course not unhealthy. Both tomatoes and olive oil are said to reduce the risk of heart disease, and if you don’t use too much cheese and consider lower fat cheese, wholegrains for your crust and maybe even a few veggies on top there is nothing wrong with your pizza.
The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating pizza can reduce your risk of a heart attack. In a 4-year study of nearly 1,000 Italians, those who ate pizza at least once a week were 30 percent less likely to experience a heart attack than those who abstained.
This means making the pizza yourself, which does not have to take as long as it sounds, or going to place you know uses fresh ingredients!
Dubai, like any self-respecting metropolis offers pizza from the cheap on-the-go to the five star gourmet. Here are our choices for the best pizza! And, thank god for the convenience culture, most of them deliver too!
Massimo’s, Dubai Marina
Not so well known to those not living in the Marina, Massimo’s is a true gem, similar to Stefano’s. People like the main dishes such as ravioli and lasagna, but rave about the pizza.
Stefano’s, Dubai Marina
A legend in Dubai, with locations in the Marina and Jebel Ali, Stefano’s is not to be missed. Don’t expect anything fancy, and we recommend sticking with the pizza’s as the pasta’s are tasty but nothing special, but the pizzas are just like you want them on a Sunday or Monday night.
Ronda Locatelli, Atlantis
More of an upscale, romantic venue at Atlantis, Ronda consistently comes out as a top notch Italian with amazing pizza and well executed mains. If you don’t mind paying more for the atmosphere and location for a special occasion, this is a must try place.
Another lesser known gem, this time in Barsha, Pulcinella gets rave reviews for the authentic pizzas. It is arguably a bit expensive for a non-hotel linked restaurant, but has had a long standing history of bringing Italian chefs to ensure authenticity which may be worth paying a little bit more for.
Est! by Signor Pomidor
Hidden away in the new Port Rashid Marina area, Est is getting rave reviews for their pizza, service and view. Using organic and healthy ingredients, this may be one of those spots that leave you with less guilt than your normal Monday night delivery. And, even better, they offer gluten free options.
La Veranda, Jumeirah Beach Hotel
If you are looking for a no fuss venue that is family friendly, give Veranda a try. Known for decent pizza and it’s peaceful location overlooking the beach and marina area it’s an easy evening for the family.
Bianca at The Walk, JBR and Box Park
The Box Park venue was popular and people are psyched that Bianca has now also opened in JBR. It feels like a little bit of Italy in Dubai, with food freshly prepared using sustainably sourced ingredients, and homemade cheeses like mozzarella and burrata.
La Cantine du Faubourg, Jumeirah Emirates Towers
This is not the authentic pizza place you were looking for, but it is the place with an amazing truffle pizza. Pizza on a fancy night out, with velvety mozzarella and truffle oil, you may end up coming back for on another night.
Solo at Raffles
Another one for the more romantic date night, Solo does Italian well but it does pizzas even better. The menu has a nice balance of more traditional pizzas, just with more and better ingredients, and more niche styles such as one including lobster.
No pizza list is complete without Bussola. We just love Bussola along with almost every other expat in Dubai. The family friendly combination with the romantic atmosphere, offering options for a full culinary Italian meal or just simply very good pizza caters to everyone. And then there’s the sunset view.