For me growing up in rural north-east England, the idea of someone delivering pizza to your house (like in Home Alone) was unfathomable and beyond exotic. There was a local Italian restaurant that served inauthentic pasta dishes, and a late night döner kebab/takeout pizza place on the high street, imaginatively called Pizza Pizza. It was usually frequented after midnight, when diners would merge those cuisines, resulting in a topping never seen before in Italy and would make a purist weep. Let’s just say standards were low. Today, raising kids in Dubai, the pizzas are so good that, given the choice, my six-year-old would have one for each meal. I probably would too. So which ones are worth your hard-earned dirhams?
I’m going to regret sharing this little gem, because getting a seat there is already hard enough. Located at the Fishing Harbour in Umm Suqeim, there are a few tables outside overlooking the water, and a couple inside, where you can watch the wood-fired action. The menu is as small as the restaurant, with just seven Neapolitan pizzas and two choices of ice-cream. We usually go for the Margo, with San Marzano tomatoes, fior di latte cheese, EVOO, and basil but the bougie among us will love the truffle-laden Tartufo. Best served with views of the sunset.
This ticks a lot of boxes for families, with kids’ meals that are crazy good value (47 AED for three courses and toy) and offer really good quality and generous portions, from dough balls, chicken tenders or potato dippers to start, choice of pizza and pasta for main, then Nutella pizza, ice cream or fudge cake to finish. We never leave without leftovers. Pizza-making parties are also popular at the Al Ferdous branch on Al Wasl Road where, for 68 AED per child, your little chef and their friends can don a hat and apron, load up a base, craft their dream combo of toppings and leave with a certificate. Drinks and dough balls with Nutella for dessert are also included.
For us, a trip to Ras Al Khaimah is incomplete without a trip to this roadside restaurant. It truly doesn’t look like anything special from the inside, but the menu is worth the journey. We were taken by a friend from Milan, who is as particular about pizza as you’d expect, and he ordered us a meal to remember, from piping hot parmigiana di melanzane that you’ll finish with a swipe of freshly baked bread to rigatoni with lamb ragout. Of course, pizzas feature heavily, and the small kitchen is dominated by a huge oven that’s visible from your table, so kids can watch theirs being rolled and charred to perfection.
This place was the stand-out foodie hit of Expo Dubai 2020, tucked away in the Mobility District, often only detectable by the lengthy queues and the smell of melting cheese in the air. Born in London’s Borough Market, this bakery is famed for two things: pizza and doughnuts. Its fans celebrated when a permanent space in Mall of the Emirates opened recently, allowing us to get a fix of massive slices of pizza the size of your head, followed by a doughnut generously filled with raspberry jam. They also have a cookery school if you want to recreate the magic at home.
Ask my kids what their favourite pizza is, and Pitfire Pizza (see pages16-19) is the immediate answer. They adore this home-grown hero for the Neapolitan and creative artwork on the boxes, while I love that owners Bill and Michele have gone from experimenting with dough in their garage, to multiple outlets, and cool collabs with local tastemakers. It doesn’t hurt that their pizza travels well and the garlic knots are irresistible.