Pizza was once such a simple concept. There was dough, there was tomato paste, and there was cheese. Other toppings were by-the-by, but the basic idea remained the same.
Not so, anymore.
Of course, you can still find your basic margherita pizza at most outlets, but the classic Italian treat has also had a very 2020 makeover. Much like the gourmet burger movement, we are now in the territory of customisation, and it's meant all of our wildest pizza-related dreams have been realised.
Fancy a healthy pizza with a cauliflower base? How about a vegan-friendly version with non-dairy cheese? What about a dessert pizza, slathered in Nutella and marshmallows?
You can find them all in Dubai.
You can, of course, just stick with your tried-and-tested old favourites: the margherita, the pepperoni, the meat lovers or the Hawaiian (if you're up for some hot debate on the place of pineapple in a savoury dish).
Here are 10 of the best pizza parlours in Dubai:
Rossovivo Artisan Pizza
A thin, sloppy centre with a perfect fresh tomato base and a puffy, slightly charred crust: this is the go-to pizza delivery option for most Italian residents in Dubai. An Italian friend once told us they'd eat this pizza "even if they were in Italy", which is about as five-star a review as you can get.
Order: The buffalina (Dh61) - a simple margherita, but with added dollops of buffalo mozzarella. Or, if your palate is up for more of an umami kick, go for the porcini (Dh61), which is blessed with swigs of truffle oil and both porcini mushrooms and porcini cream (a light meal, then).
Details: Millennium Tower and Office Park Tower, Dubai; 04 380 5833; rossovivo.com
It proclaims itself as "Dubai's favourite pizza", but judging by how many people we know that order from this joint on the regular, there's truth in that slogan. The brand's two locations – both in JLT – offer a laid-back atmosphere and friendly service, while the outside seating area at the Cluster D branch is usually a packed yet informal affair. But the charm of Pitfire isn't only in its stores – its legendary pies travel well and are among some of the best takeaway options we've tried. With a crunchy yet puffy crust, the perfectly tangy sauce is well-weighted to the generous toppings (no scrimping on the base here) and the pleases-all menu brings together old classics as well as more cutting-edge combinations.
What to order: The Hipster (Dh52) is a tasty twist on the classic margherita. No, it doesn't come with a handlebar moustache and sunglasses, but instead comprises crushed tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, a three-cheese blend, baby spinach and a pesto swirl to finish things off. If you prefer tomato-free option, try the Spudnik (Dh48), with roast potatoes, caramelised onions, rosemary and grilled chicken.
Details: Lake Terrace Tower, Cluster D, JLT, Dubai; 800 7483 473; www.pitfiredubai.ae
Il Faro Trattoria
This Palm Jumeirah restaurant delivers impressive views as well as some seriously tasty dishes. The circular blue-and-white building, the name of which means "lighthouse" in Italian, is perched on the edge of the Arabian Gulf, with sweeping views of the Burj Al Arab and JBR shoreline. You can eat inside or outside, although, weather permitting, always choose the terrace for said views. The menu comprises an array of courses, from pasta and seafood to salads and antipasti, but its pizzas are an outstanding option. If you can, head down on a Tuesday when the ladies' night deal offers unlimited pizza (from select options) and drinks for Dh150 each – it's a good way to try some of Il Faro's favourite slices without having to pick just one flavour.
What to order: For a really hearty feast, try the Pulcinella (Dh96), topped with home-made sausage, mozzarella, green capsicum and baby potatoes.
Details: Azure Residences, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai; 04 568 3137
This is arguably the best pizza house in Dubai for people with specialty diets. While there are plenty of meat and dairy-filled pies on the menu, there are also options for plant-based and gluten-free diners. Opt for the cauliflower crust, for example, or choose to top it with vegan cheese or even the animal-free product Beyond Meat. These options come alongside a range of other gourmet toppings, such as truffle oil, goat’s cheese, fennel seeds and beef chorizo. Get a regular pizza or go for Detroit-style, and add any of the myriad side dishes to that, from the healthy quinoa power salad to all-natural chicken tenders. There are a range of gluten-free and vegan desserts up for grabs, too.
What to order: The Free-gan (from Dh39). It's topped with orange bell pepper, caramelised onions, jalapenos, onions, cherry tomatoes, coriander, vegan cheese and red sauce
Details: Branches in Boutique Studio Retail, Studio City, Dubai, 04 457 2533; Al Murooj Complex, Downtown Dubai, 04 342 5755; Marina View Tower, Dubai Marina, 04 453 4313; Yes Business Centre, Al Barsha, Dubai, 04 369 9396; Iliyaa 3, Silicon Oasis, Dubai, 04 320 5253; Al Maktoum Hospital Road, Deira, Dubai, 04 352 9051; Street 4, Khalidiya, Abu Dhabi, 02 641 0029; www.freedompizza.ae
They do it like they do in Rome at 800 Pizza. Crusts are thin, light and crispy, and the small is the perfect size for a meal for one – not too big that you’ll feel guilty for eating it all, but not so tiny that you’ll be raiding the refrigerator soon after. All the classics are bestsellers, from margherita with Italian buffalo mozzarella and parmesan, to the diavola with beef pepperoni. There are also more gourmet selections on the menu – think of toppings such as black truffle carpaccio and smoked provola cheese – as well as an option for vegans. If you want to go all out, you can opt for one of the tasty pasta dishes, too. When in Rome…
What to order: Classic four formaggi (Dh51), with Italian mozzarella, gorgonzola, emmental and parmesan
Details: Marina Hotel Apartments, Dubai Marina; Abdullah Meheiri Building, Al Barsha, Dubai; Kijacl Motors building, Motor City, Dubai; Abidos Hotel Apartments, Dubailand; Aswaaq Centre, Jumeirah 1, Dubai; Wadi Al Safa 7, Sustainable City, Dubai; 800 74992; www.800pizza.com
This is best for the calorie-conscious dough lover. Pinza isn't quite pizza, but also isn't a flatbread: the dough is made with more water than your average crust, and so promises fewer calories. It's crispy and crunchy with bubbles of air in the middle. Sure, it's not authentic Naples-style, but it is its own, delicious, sourdough-laced creation. It's probably the pizza we'd choose at lunch if we had a hankering.
Order: there are five vegan options, which is uncommon on a pizza menu. The OMV (Dh60) comes with vegan chipotle sausage. Points for difference.
Details: Business and Jumeirah Village Circle; 800 Pinza (74692); pinza.com
Red Tomato Pizza
This hole-in-the-wall pizzeria located in Al Barsha serves authentic Italian pies packed with flavour. The pizzas are thin crusted and, in many cases, deliciously minimalistic. Try the All Arabiata, for example, with ingredients like tomato sauce, mozzarella, chopped garlic, chili oil and flakes, Parmesan and parsley, or go for the Al Prosciutto with tomato sauce, Italian mozzarella and turkey or beef ham. Other reasons to give it a try are it has a wide variety of vegetarian options, and is reasonably priced.
What to order: The pesto pizza, with sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, roasted zucchini, roasted eggplant (which is absolutely delicious on pizza!) and pesto sauce.
Details: Al Seedaf Street, Al Barsha, Dubai; 044470497
Surely the best pizza will come from an Italian restaurant or so you might think. And some of the best slices in the city might. But Japan also knows just as much about creating a thin base with fluffy, slightly salty, charred crust and tangy, ultra-fresh tomato sauce, as this D3 restaurant can testify.
While Akiba Dori also offers traditional fare such as sushi and katsu curry, its best dishes come from the pizza side of the menu, cooked in a specially created wood-fired oven that reaches 500° Celsius. Served up in a cobbled, neon-lit interior that takes inspiration from Tokyo's electronics district, pizzas are crafted using imported Japanese flour for an authentic taste.
What to order: Cheese lovers will appreciate the 5 Formaggi, topped with a drizzle of acacia honey. But consider trying the Marinara, a dairy-free option of just tart San Marzano tomato sauce, basil and French pink garlic. The simplicity of the dish lets the minimal ingredients truly shine (we promise, you won't feel robbed without the meat and cheese)
If anyone tells you that artichokes, boiled eggs, pepperoni, salami, mushrooms and black olives are a few ingredients too many on a pizza, then they’ve never had the Capricciosa pizza from Itzza Pizza. Layered on a bed of mozzarella and tomato paste, the ingredients are so good at complementing each other – especially on the thin and crispy wood-fired dough – that even Margherita eaters will reconsider their purist ways.
What to order: Capricciosa
Details: Mirdif, Street 53, 04 2888192, www.facebook.com/itzzapizzauae/
Il Borro Tuscan Bistro
This high-end restaurant is currently on ordering platforms such as Deliveroo because, at least for now, times have changed. It's owned by the famous Ferragamo family, with much of the produce – such as the organic olive oil – straight from their estate in Tuscany. The pizza here is traditional, and as A-grade as you'd expect from a restaurant with such pedigree.
Order: You might as well push the pizza boat (or gondola?) out and get the Umbrian black winter truffle and buffalo mozzarella slice (Dh175 for the whole pie), which has actual slices of truffle on it.
Details: Jumeirah Al Naseem, Umm Suqeim; 04 275 2555; ilborrotuscanbistro.ae