There’s a glut of pizzerias in Dubai. So I was initially unfazed by the new Italian restaurant that opened in my building. Until the day I spoke with an Italian neighbour who told me just how good it was. I asked what she ordered and she replied, “Margherita. When a pizza is good, there’s nothing better.”
Pizza’s never held much appeal. For those who know me, I always prefer the most unusual combination of ingredients on the menu. Simple food bores me. And I don’t think I had ever ordered a margherita. Bread, sauce and cheese? No thanks.
Enter Angelo’s Naturalmente Italiano. One day (many pizzas ago), I ventured there to sample this famous margherita.
The restaurant is decked out in Italian national colours, a bit too bright, with 3 TV screens showing football. There’s more subdued terrace seating right on the marina. The owner is from Rome and prides himself on his authentic, high quality ingredients. The pizza chef, Antonio, is from Naples and has spent 12 years mastering his craft.
The dough is hand-shaped, resulting in a super-thin base and a puffy misshapen crust, sometimes slightly charred from the 800-degree, wood-fired oven. The topping is a simple tomato sauce of crushed tomatoes and a smattering of imported Italian mozzarella. The combination of simple ingredients works so well, that I now return 2-3 times per week.
They’re a modest bunch without much mind for marketing. Antonio won third place for the Best Italian Pizza in the UAE in October, but the certificate is hidden away in a corner of the restaurant. So when you dine there, you feel like pizza cognoscenti. Part of a secret club of those in the know, who can appreciate authentic Italian cuisine. Or so I tell myself.
My favourite way to eat it is piping hot. I rip into the crust first while it’s still warm and doughy, then follow with the rest of the pizza afterwards. Heaven.
A thrice-weekly pizza habit is a bit extreme. My body hates me. My tastebuds love me. But I know which will win every time.
Angelo’s Naturalmente Italiano
Orra Marina Tower
Updated 30 May 2015: Sadly, Angelo’s Naturalmente Italiano closed its doors at the end of May. Antonio went on to compete in the 2015 Pizza World Championships in Parma. I haven’t yet found a pizza I enjoy as much as Antonio’s so I’ve had to cut my pizza habit cold turkey.