Pizza was once a simple concept – a humble pie made of dough topped with tomato paste and cheese baked in an oven. Other toppings were incidental, but the basic structure remained the same. But not so, anymore. Of course, you can still find your classics at most outlets, but much like the gourmet burger movement, pizzas too, have received a 2022 makeover: we’ve entered the territory of customization. Let’s rewind a bit to learn about the rich history of this peasant’s pie.
A Brief History of Pizza
Humans have been consuming pizza, in one form or another, for centuries. These early pizzas first appeared in Virgil’s Aeneid between 29th and 19th BC.
But it was during the late 18th-century Naples that pizza took the form that we are now familiar with. During these times, the urban economy of Naples was struggling to cope with its burgeoning population, consecutively poverty was rampant. Pizzas met this need for quick, cheap, and easy-to-eat food. Virgil’s flatbreads have now received a reputation for being the peasant’s dish, and it wouldn’t be changed for another century.
In 1889, King Umberto I and Queen Margherita, while visiting Naples, were served a pizza made using tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. The queen was so delighted that the pizza was christened pizza Margherita in her honor. This signaled an important shift in the elevation of pizza from being a humble lazzaroni’s pie to something enjoyed by the royal family.
Around the turn of the century, especially from the 1930s, as more and more Neapolitans moved out of Naples in search of work, so did their pizzas. And this trend was further accelerated when allied soldiers invaded Italy in 1943-4.
In 1905, the first pizzeria – Lombardi’s – was opened in New York City by early Italian emigrants. And soon, Pizza became an American institution. America quickly became the second home to Pizzas, and they were adapted to reflect the local tastes and identities (case in point, the Chicago deep-dish pizza, the Detroit-style pizza)
Today’s pizzas with their outlandish toppings are far removed from those early flatbreads mentioned in Virgil’s epic poem. However, it is still recognizable as pizza despite going through centuries of social, economic, and technological changes.
All this Pizza talk made you hungry? Get yourself a big ol’ pizza, or if you’re craving for just a slice or two, we know just the place from where you can get some!
From authentic New York slices to crispy Italian, here’s a list of some of Dubai’s best authentic pizza joints.
The world-famous pizzeria hailing from New York now offers a great dining experience in Dubai. They boast a bubbly and crispy crust analogous to the Neopolitan pizza pies and a few ingredients imported straight from the birthplace of pizzas, Italy. Alongside its savory dishes for both veggie and meat lovers, the fully-licensed restaurant serves great cocktails. Whether it’s a pleasant morning or a fun weekend night, the delicious flavors of Motorino combined with a fully licensed social spot make this the ideal Pizza destination for residents and travelers alike.
What to order: Their menu for pizzas is divided into white and red pizza. Bestsellers include Del Mare, Bresaola And Rocket, Pugliese, Del Popolo, Patate E Limone, etc.
Details: JA Ocean View Hotel, The Walk, JBR, Dubai
Opening hours – Daily – 12:00 PM – 10:00 PM | Tel: +971 4 814 5918 +971 56 2165027 motorinodubai.com
The self-proclaimed “Dubai’s favorite pizza joint” will make you smack your lips as soon as you taste the first slice. Judging by the number of people that regularly order from this pizza joint and how packed their restaurants are, there’s some truth to their proclamation. It has three locations – two in JLT and another in Downtown Dubai– offering a laid-back atmosphere with innovative and tasty pizzas.
But the charm of Pitfire isn’t just limited to its stores – their legendary pies are some of the best pizza takeaway options available in Dubai. Pitfire has been slinging perfect pies for years with all the usual toppings in generous proportions, along with a crunchy yet puffy crust and a perfectly tangy sauce. The pleases-all menu effortlessly brings together some old classics as well as some innovative twists and cutting-edge combinations.
What to order: The Hipster is a tasty twist on the classic Margherita – crushed tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, a three-cheese blend, baby spinach, and a pesto swirl to finish things off. Pitfire also offers signature flavors such as classic pepperoni primo along with regional flavors.
Details: Lake Terrace Tower, Cluster D, JLT, Dubai; +971 04 553 0465;
Opening hours – Daily – 11am to 11pm; www.pitfiredubai.ae
At 800 Pizza, they make pizzas like they do in Rome. So, the crusts are light, thin & crispy, and the best thing about their pizzas is that their sizing is just perfect – not too big that you’ll feel guilty for gorging it all but also not so tiny to make you raid the refrigerator later. They have become a gamechanger to the traditional pizza scene in Dubai by recreating the authentic tastes using a brick oven that renders their pizza crusts a crisp, well-done look.
While 800’s classics such as Margherita made with Italian buffalo mozzarella and parmesan, to the diavola made with beef pepperoni are bestsellers, the folks of Dubai now have shifted their gaze to a more gourmet selection on the menu like Black Truffle and Misto Mare. When in Rome…you might want to go all out with one of their tasty pasta dishes.
What to order: Classic 4 formaggi, Pepperoni Pizza, Black Truffle and Misto Mare
Details: Opening hours – Daily – 11am to 11pm. 800 74992; 800pizza.com
They have 8 outlets across Dubai, out of which Marina Promenade, Motorcity, and Sustainable city offer dine-in facilities.
The best pizzas in Dubai are the ones that let their ingredients do all the talking. And Luigia boasts of having authentic pizzas cooked in a specially built Neapolitan wood-fired oven, homemade Italian dishes like pasta, and a variety of quintessential Italian desserts on the menu. They draw their inspiration from the love bestowed by Italian grandmothers onto their families through the art of cooking.
Luigia, located in Rixos Premium JBR, is an expansive restaurant that’s kitted out in bold & brash hues of purple and red. It is a family-friendly place with a dedicated kids’ menu, cinema room, and hearty Italian food that won’t break the bank.
What to order: Insalataata di calamari e fagiolini – delicious squid, French beans, datterini tomatoes, mashed potato with extra-virgin olive oil, topped with citronette and basil. A feast of a salad.
And for a veg-friendly blower of minds, you can go with the Antica – wholesome quartet of Piennolo toms, fior di latte, fresh ricotta, and a sprinkle of basil.
Details: Rixos Premium Hotel JBR, JBR, luigia.ae (+9714 349 6950).
Opening hours –
Sun to Thu – 5.30pm to 12am,
Fri & Sat – 12.30pm to 12am.
Rossovivo Artisan Pizza
If you love an artistic beauty in the form of an authentic Italian pie, Rossovio Pizza is the perfect choice for you. Its thin yet puffy, slightly charred crust along with a sloppy center and a perfect fresh tomato base, is a go-to pizza place for most Italian residents in Dubai. An Italian resident even remarked that they’d eat this pizza “even if they were in Italy” for a restaurant. It doesn’t get any better than this!
This joint boasts pizzas specially made for artisans and their major attractions include the buffalina – loaded with buffalo mozzarella. You can go with the porcini mushroom toppings if you’re someone who enjoys a kick of umami. It has two outlets- one in Business Bay and another in Media City, where you can dine in or order online.
What to order: The buffalina – a simple Margherita, but with added dollops of buffalo mozzarella. Or, go for the porcini, with swigs of truffle oil and both porcini mushrooms and porcini cream (a light meal, then).
Opening hours –
Sun to Thurs – 11am to 11pm
Fri & Sat – 11:30am to 11:30pm
Outlet #1 – Millennium Tower and Office Park Tower, Dubai; 04 380 5833
Outlet #2 – Office Park Building, Al Bourooj Street, Media City; 04 427 2477
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