Emmy Squared Pizza review: Detroit-style joint earns its crust in Abu Dhabi and Dubai

A crispy base and lashings of cheese underscore the meaty toppings, with vegans and vegetarians also well catered for

Emmy Squared Pizza is available in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Photo: Emmy Squared Pizza
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There is no dearth of good pizza in the UAE, with outlets offering a variety in flavours and ingredients, dietary needs and lifestyle demands, prices and cuisine-fusion (fried seaweed pizza, anyone?).

But sometimes, all you want is a hearty pizza dripping with cheese and slathered in delicious tomato sauce, with meaty toppings and a solid crust.

Enter Emmy Squared Pizza, which hit the UAE market in 2021 with a branch in Abu Dhabi, followed by a Dubai outpost in April.

The Detroit-style pizza joint is best known for its deep-dish offerings that come in a distinct square shape, following a “secret grandma-style” recipe created by co-found Emily Hyland in 2016.

But the latest Dubai branch bills itself as “designed from the ground up, and different from all of Emmy Squared Pizza's 18 locations in the US, as well as the one in Abu Dhabi”.

So, armed with my three-decade experience of eating pizzas, I head to both of the restaurant’s UAE locations, in Yas Bay and Jumeirah, to see how the two match up.

Where to sit, what to expect

My dining companion and I visit Emmy Square Pizza’s Abu Dhabi outpost on a quiet Thursday evening, but I've seen it buzzing at the weekends on previous visits to Yas Bay.

This location has a large indoor space with wicker chairs and comfy brown leather couches, plus an open-plan layout with floor-to-ceiling glass walls, and an al fresco dining area on one side.

The decor is minimalist – featuring light-blue walls mounted with black and white illustrations of seemingly random celebrities, as well the cutesy graphics of the pizza box at the beach and around town.

The Dubai venue, in Beach Walk Hotel, is easy to miss but once inside, the cosy, indoor-only space has a cheery vibe, with pink walls and red couches.

It's smaller than the Abu Dhabi outpost but filled with a few families when we visit on a late Saturday afternoon.

The music is peppy in both locations, but soft enough to comfortably have a conversation with your dining partners.

The menu

Its namesake dish aside, Emmy Squared Pizza offers a selection of starters, burgers and desserts. The Abu Dhabi venue is licensed and also serves milkshakes, which are yet to be made available at the Dubai site.

In the capital, we start our meal with chicken crunchers (Dh49) and request the heat be turned up. For our mains, we go with the server's recommendations of the Colony Squared (Dh77) and Hot Chicken (Dh55) pizzas.

The starter, despite its name, is not crunchy or spicy – and so a bit of a let-down.

The Colony Squared, which comes with a heady combination of pickled jalapenos and honey, as well as deliciously crispy Italian beef pepperoni, has an interesting flavour profile given the heat of the peppers and the sweetness of the honey.

This is a rather heavy pizza, though, and we are already full by the time the Hot Chicken arrives.

This is another indulgent piie, with chunks of fried chicken, white sauce and chopped pickles. While the chicken pieces feel too large, chunky and even greasy, the white sauce is moreish.

At the end of the meal, not only are we left with no space for dessert, but we also have enough leftovers for a full lunch the next day.

Having learnt our lesson, we go hungry and skip starters at Emmy Dubai, and opt for the Star (Dh79) and Seoul Mate (Dh57) pizzas.

Cheese-lovers will relish the first – it features Mozzarella, ricotta and pecorino that pair well with the spicy oil and red sauce. But the Seoul Mate (more on this below) is the real winner for both of us.

This time, we have just enough room for dessert and opt for a delectable banana pudding (Dh31), which is strictly one for those with a keen sweet tooth.

If you're not overly hungry, one pizza should suffice between two. The menu lists three vegan options, a few veggie pizzas and a dozen diverse meaty offerings.

Standout dish

The Seoul Mate is the highlight of our meal and one of the best pizzas I've eaten.

The Asian-inspired dish, which comes with sausage, kimchi sauce, bell peppers, mozzarella, mushrooms and pecorino cheese on a sesame crust, is a flavour bomb in each bite, and much lighter than the other pizzas we sampled.

It is available to order at both locations of Emmy Squared Pizza in the UAE and is part of the restaurant’s new menu.

A chat with the chef

Luigi Mercogliano, the head chef at Emmy Squared Pizza, is from Naples and honed his craft in Italy and London before coming to Dubai in 2013.

He juggles his time between Akiba Dori, which is known for its Tokyo-style Neapolitan pizza, and Emmy Squared Pizza.

When asked about his favourite on the menu, he says: “I love a simple pizza and my absolute favourite is the burrata margherita. Playing with some of the simplest of ingredients, this pizza is full of fresh flavours that pop.

“This includes everything from the base, made with the San Marzano sun-ripened tomato sauce, going all the way to the toppings, including the buffalo mozzarella.

"The addition of the cheese adds a creamy richness to balance the acidity of the tomatoes and complements Emmy’s signature crispy frico crust."

Prices and contact information

Appetisers at Emmy Squared Pizza cost between Dh33 and Dh59; pizzas are from Dh55 to Dh89; burgers from Dh51 to Dh65; and desserts are Dh31.

Emmy Squared Pizza Yas Bay is open from noon to midnight from Sunday to Thursday, and from noon to 1am on Friday and Saturday. The Dubai branch is open from noon to midnight on all days.

For reservations, call the Abu Dhabi branch on 02 235 8763 and the Dubai branch on 04 835 9726.

This review was conducted at the invitation of the restaurant

Updated: July 14, 2023, 6:02 PM