Yes, Margherita again... Three times in less than three months. When I crave for a good pizza, automatically Margherita comes to mind. It’s where I head to, when I plan to enjoy some good old Italian style pizza. I often visit their branch in Jounieh, which is actually called Margherita Mare. Even though the negative comments are still coming to this Jounieh's branch, I decided to leave the negative thoughts home and experience what their latest branch in Dbayeh has to offer.
Margherita Dbayeh, located inside Blueberry Square, can be accessed from two sides: The seaside road, or by entering the structure from the main entrance and walking towards the end where Margherita is located on the ground floor. The first impression is nice: A spacious location, Margherita decided not to have an open terrace like its neighboring restaurant Al Balad. They have a section that's covered with a glass structure which makes you feel like you’re sitting outside, without the noisy sounds of cars. The same beautiful decoration welcomes you, their signature modern oven, a long bar, two leveled space, scribbles on the wall behind the oven space, concrete flooring, wooden chairs, colorful paintings and a new "tape a l'oeuil", the huge carved logo centered on the ceiling. Look up, you'll enjoy it. As for the main pièce de résistance is the red leather sofa that sits boldly next to the entrance like a Godfather's throne. "Good evening, where would you like to sit," Giorgio welcomed us with his continuous smile and high attention. We enjoyed his service tonight: people like him make you love the restaurant whatever the food is. Their Jounieh's branch is thirsty for passionate people like him.
Margherita is not only one of the best pizzerias in town, it is also a place where people hangout, familiar faces meet, families gather and neighbors catch up on their everyday life – all around a selection of tasteful Antipasti, Zuppe, Pizze and Dolce.
The menu, is a story by itself: Get prepared to plunge into the Margherita book, a new and innovative idea where the menu is printed on an ISBN registered book containing "A compelling story, of family, determination, love, dedication & mouthwatering pizza".
- Chapter one: Antipasti & Insalate
- Chapter two: Bruschette & Contorni
- Chapter three: Primi Piatti
- Chapter four: Zuppe & Risotto
- Chapter five: Pizza
- Chapter six: Secondi Piatti
- Chapter seven: Dolci
- Chapter eight: Your Thoughts
The story behind Margherita: In 1959 Giovanni was born and as a gift to his wife Agata, Osvaldo, Giovanni's father decided to open a Pizzeria. Agata decided to dedicate her pizzeria to Queen Margherita of Savoy and named her pizzeria Margherita after her. Years later, Giovanni decided to share his mother's recipes with the world, to recreate the authentic taste of her cooking, the flavors that accompanied him throughout his childhood and the essence of his home. The first pizzeria opened in Lebanon in July 2008 in Gemmayze. Unfortunately some customers are plain messy as they scribble on parts of the menu they shouldn’t. Some of the old books are better replaced and people must be asked gently to respect the chapters…
- Vitello Tonnato (Thinly sliced veal topped with tuna sauce and capers)
- Calamari Alla Griglia (Grilled calamari with side salad and lemon dressing)
- Bufala Pizza (Tomato sauce, mozzarella, ham, mushrooms and basil)
- Rustica Pizza (Tomato sauce, mozzarella, goat cheese and speck)
- Diavola Pizza (Tomato sauce, mozzarella, spicy salami and basil)
The details I loved:
- Wood pepper and salt mills are available on all the tables
- Margherita serves your food in their own signature branded plates
- Simple paper place-mats give a feel of cleanliness
- Victorinox knives are used, easily cutting through all the food
- Soft Italian music soothes all your senses
- Smoking is strictly not allowed
- The food is visually beautifully served on a plate making it even more appetizing
- The staff blends in perfectly. They are all happy, smiling and enjoying their time
Dinner started with six pieces of soft and tender olive oil bread seasoned with thick salt, which I really loved, accompanying two bottles of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
I decided to have a beer tonight: A 961 draft, which I found amazing: Light and fruity without being watery, this beer is a must try.
The dinner, which followed was close to perfection: An awesome Vitello Tonnato with its soft shredded lettuce, thin sliced veal and circular light mayo/tuna dressing that makes all the difference. The plate was full, generous and looks beautiful. As for the calamari salad, which is served warm has a strong and tasty lemony taste that accompanies the generous calamari bites that are not chewy and feel fresh. Some Lolo Verde salad on the side covered with olive oil makes the plate fulfilling.
The portrait of a superb Margherita's Pizza:
- A baked Italian pie consisting of a shallow bread-like crust covered with toppings such as seasoned tomato sauce, cheese, sausage, or olives
- Their tomato sauce is unique
- The bottom of the pizza, the "crust" is thin and plain
- The outer edge of the pizza is lightly crusty and spongy at the same time making it very enjoyable to be eaten
- Wheat flour is used, brewer's yeast, salt and water
- The dough is formed by hand and is less than 3 millimeters thick
- The pizza smells and tastes of that wood burn in the oven which makes a lot of difference to the taste
- The mozzarella used in small balls, melts homogeneously over the surface and is pleasant to eat
- After cooking the dough is crispy, tender
- Some of the books/menus look too dirty and should be changed
- The air conditioning system is not enough for this restaurant. We were literally sweating
- We found a piece of cartilage in the calamari and showed it to the waiter. I think it would have been appreciated if this plate was offered
It was time for the numbers game, which is never proposed in Jounieh. Choose any number from 1 to 90 and if your number is chosen, you whole meal is offered for free. With a chance lower than 1%, the chances are close to nil, so we ended paying like everyone else.
Tonight's experience was just great on all levels and I think that most of you out there feel the same. But what I think most of us also agree on is why their branch in Jounieh is so different. I understand the concept is somehow different, adding seafood to the whole equation, but this doesn’t mean that the service should be bad, the menu papers so disgusting, to name a few. It looks like a failing branch to be honest. Anyway, if you’re looking for that perfect Italian pizza in the Metn area, Margherita is your address and I recommend it.