Pizza, who doesn’t love pizza? This Italian classic is the second most popular food in the world, after burgers. From Italy to France, the United States to the Middle East, pizzas come in many shapes and sizes, but the end result is the same: an oven-baked, flat bread typically finished off with a tomato sauce, cheese and various toppings. The modern pizza has its roots in Naples, Italy, and the dish has since become popular all over the world.
So, back to our beloved country to enjoy some of the best pizzas Lebanon has to offer. Italian pizzerias and American pizza delivery franchises have mushroomed nationwide, while in a typically Lebanese fashion, creative minds have come up some innovative ideas like offering them in small cups that can be devoured in seconds. Join me on my journey around Lebanon's little Italy.
Pzza.Co, Beirut Souks
Here’s a perfectly rounded pizza filled with the richest of ingredients, I said to myself, the minute I saw this piece of edible art. Candy to my eyes I enjoyed the intense rich color of fresh homemade tomatoes sauce covered with moist cherry tomatoes bursting with premium flavors. The dough is thin, fine and light. How great it is to feel the extraordinary crust prepared with love and dedication. It starts with a simple bite, which takes you on a journey around Italy and its wonders. Thin crunchy circles where bubbles have been formed making things even more interesting. Just when you think that the experience is over, you will reach the borders! Awesome… Pleasantly crunchy yet tender in the middle with a taste and smell of fresh… you will not want to skip out on this one…especially the salty aftertaste…
Bar Tartine, Mar Mikhael
Majestic Margherita Pizza: As it’s name suggests, the Pizza is just majestic. A thin dough with a crunchy crust. Juicy on the upper level and super crunchy on the lower one! Unsophisticated, this pizza is rectangular in shape and generous ingredients that will make you say ‘wow’ after every bite. Simply delicious. I really loved it but it’s a shame that they only propose three choices. We love it and want more.
SUD, Mar Mikhael
It was truly love at first sight, the minute I walked into SUD. This place is special in so many ways and has set a name for itself in Lebanon… One of my favorite things to order at SUD are their pizzas. I like their Chevre Pizza covered with cut black olives, chorizo, green slices of basil and a strong taste of dried tomatoes. The huge difference is created by the pronounced flavors of cheese. The pizza's at SUD are truly tasty and rich in fresh ingredients.
Cafe Mondo at the Phoenicia InterContinental, Beirut
Cafe Mondo, located at the Phoenicia Hotel is a very decent Italian restaurant that has been serving the same quality food for the past decade or so. This place is renowned for its five star service the hotel it resides in offers, as well as their popular crunchy pizzas and their generously colorful salad bar. Every day, Cafe Mondo offers pasta of the day, specialty dishes and a chosen wine. I like the huge size of their pizza, its thickness and crunchy borders as well as its generous filling.
Olio is one of the first places to open on popular Gemmayze street in 2005 which then expanded nationally in just a few years with a menu that’s rich with Italian specialties. Olio became a favorite place for many – but the original restaurant on Gemmayze still stands out. Walk into a cozy set up of this three leveled Italian restaurant that boasts many attractive details. Starting from the light wood flooring to the small green chandeliers hung on the walls… Olio means a dish of many different ingredients and the name best describes this place. A fun mixture of interior details, good food and a pleasant ambiance all make up for this unique Italian spot.
La Bottega Pizzeria, Bikfaya
I was happily surprised with the outstanding service and food enjoyed in this simple Italian restaurant near Bikfaya. For only $25 a person, we enjoyed premium quality and great taste. La Bottega is the address of unpretentious, rustic delicious Italian food. It’s not to be missed. Order the salmon pizza with its lemon quarters. A thin crust that crumbles into a hundred pieces while the richness of the ingredients activate all your senses.
Don Baker, Badaro
Don Baker’s pizzas are a perfect blend between our local mankoushe and Italian pizzas. A thin dough with wide borders, thin and enjoyable. It's not chewy and covered home made tomato sauce and topped with a generous load of fresh ingredients. My choice is their La Fromagere pizza which includes tomato sauce, mozzarella, emmental, chèvre, olives noires, oregano. Mastering the equilibrium of flavors this pizza unique. It's different from the any pizza I have tried at local bakers or Italian restaurants. The variety of cheese... Yum! PS: Eat it immediately while it’s hot since the dough turns chewy very quickly.
Margherita Pizzeria, Gemmayze and Jounieh
The portrait of a superb Margherita pizza: A baked Italian pie consisting of a shallow bread-like crust, covered with toppings such as uniquely seasoned tomato sauce, cheese, sausage and olives prepared in a wood oven, which makes a big difference in taste. Small balls of mozzarella melt homogeneously over the surface and are a delight to the palate.
Napoletana, ABC Dbayeh
One of the thinner crusts in town, simple and not chewy, topped generously with fresh ingredients such as mushrooms, premium ham, tasty tomato sauce, oregano and non-oily cheese. Order the Quattro Stagioni, and jump into a 30 cm circle of delicious ingredients. Every bite has a unique taste... delicious!
Nonna Pizza, Dbayeh
All pizzas at Nonna are unique and stand out among all other pizzas in town. Thin yet firm dough, crispy crunchy on the sides with a subtle burning flavor…Topped with generous with flavorful ingredients, their large sized pizzas are mouthwatering, colorful and fulfilling. Grab a slice and enjoy eating with your hands.
Nestled in the heart of Dbayeh, surrounded by green trees and large landscapes, The Peninsula offers a large selection of homemade Italian delicacies from start to finish. A favorite is the Pizza Corleone: tomato sauce, sun-dried tomatoes, mozzarella, goat cheese, truffle oil and oregano. A perfect mix of fresh ingredients on a unique dough.
Pomodoro Pizzeria, Zaitunay Bay
When you know that the in house chef has won international awards for baking the largest pizza and has been recognized by national Italian institutes for his skill, you know you’re in for a treat. With a soft center, but a crispy, risen ring around the outside, Pomodoro’s pizzas are perfect, in appearance and flavor. With rich, creamy cheeses and a vibrant tomato sauce, not to mention traditional Italian toppings, pizzas here have to be tasted to be believed.
Tavolina, Mar Mikhael
Two thumbs up for their pizza. Tavolina serves one of the best, if not the best, Italian pizza in Lebanon. A 30 cm perfectly round pizza with thin non-chewy dough and generous filling. Amazingly well decorated, the ingredients are fresh and tasty. If you like marguerita pizza, you will fall in love with Tavolina’s version.
Toto, Mar Mikhael
Toto’s pizza was created by one of Europe’s best Pizzaolos. A perfectly round pizza, soft and tender with an interesting after crunch and topped with the richest of ingredients. I loved the parma ham pizza, the truffle pizza and the newly launched beef carpaccio pizza - not to be missed.
I'm sure there are more that I'll be discovering within the next couple months. Now for you... which ones you like?