We have reason to believe that King Abdul Aziz Road is the new “Tahlia St.” on the rise. Why do we say that? Because most of the newest restaurants are opening wayyy over there and we let out a little sigh because they’re so far away from where we live and yet they are all the restaurants that we want to try. I suppose the current city center is now “too crowded” and people are exasperated with the re-routing of roads (not to mention, terrible traffic) that they wouldn’t mind a longer stretch of a drive as long as the road is wide open.
And so, on this up and coming strip nearby called the Uthman bin Affnan Road sits Pizzaiolo – a new pizza place with a definitely eye-catching signage on its front door. We visited last Friday to know more about it because we heard that they have a “Make Your Own Pizza” thing going on and we wanted to try it. As it turns out, Fridays and Saturdays are solely for families and single ladies (until Maghreb prayer where they’d revert back to just single men only) so we were able to sit and enjoy the restaurant that afternoon.
The restaurant’s decor was very minimalistic with a very straightforward diner seating vibe that leads all the way into the kitchen counter, where people can place their order. We grabbed a copy of the menu and saw a very compact list of dishes to that were basically categorized into their signature pizzas, ingredients for the Make Your Own Pizza and a selection of Arancini appetizers (an Italian snack made of mozarella cheese and risotto rice rolled into palm-sized balls). Speaking of Italian, the restaurant’s name “Pizzaiolo” actually means “a man who makes pizzas in a pizzeria” and the piety of its brand to its vision doesn’t stop there. As we met one the owners of the restaurant, he told us that most of their main ingredients are sourced locally as he owns a farm where they make their own cheese and raise their own cows for the meat they use. Even the flour for the dough is home-grown so it’s solid to say that they are devoted to creating an authentically Saudi-made pizza inspired by the flavors and recipes of Italy.
So let’s get to the pizzas!
We selected the Three Cheese Pizza from their menu as a staple choice and for the other, we chose the Make Your Own Pizza of course! We went over to the counter to have a look at the ingredients we wanted and fortunately, they offered if one of us would like to actually go behind the counter and prepare the pizza ourselves. Now, I am not sure if they grant this access to everybody else but I hope they do (maybe not all the time, but when it’s not too busy). Janelle was offered first but she decided that I should take the plunge instead and so I had to wear the necessary accoutrements (gloves, hairnet and facemask) before stepping into the kitchen. Look, Baladiyah! I’m following food safety standards! 😀
Someone else kneaded the dough and prepped the pizza’s base for me and when the pan was already set, Janelle was ready with her selections which I had to carefully put over the pizza. I was a bit nervous and I really don’t know why but I realized then just how quick and attentive food servers actually have to be in this setting. I wasn’t sure if I was hearing J’s choices properly and I was probably more concerned in making things look pretty on the pizza rather than actually being quick about it. Haha! As I finished making our own pizza, one of the guys placed it inside the brick oven for me and I went back to our table to wait for our pizzas to cook.
Just under seven minutes later….
For the Three Cheese pizza, there was parmesan, cheddar and mozarella cheese melted into one gooey goodness. It may look oily but that extra drizzle is from extra virgin olive oil so you don’t have to worry that it may not be good for you. Definitely a good choice.
For our Make Your Own, we chose eggplant parmigiana, spicy sausage, mozzarella, cheddar cheese, smoked chicken and mushroom. The eggplant parmigiana was the clear show stopper for us and the spicy sausage was pungent with flavor that it overpowered the taste of the smoked chicken. Other than that, we loved how crisp the crust is and how it cracked with a crunch as we picked up a slice all the while the middle of the pizza was soft and easy to melt in our mouths. Yummm!
Personally, I’ve never been a fan of pizza crusts. I’m the type of person who usually leaves it behind on my plate and as I went about doing the same thing with my pizzas at Pizzaiolo, the owner noticed it and handed me one of the Crust Dips. I saw that selection in their menu but I didn’t understand what it was for until he explained to me that they know about people like me and us love the crusts as much as the pizza so they offer these variations of dips wherein you could dunk your leftover crusts for a burst of flavor and finish everything off on the plate. Clever huh? 🙂
After a bit of a chit chat, we ordered their only dessert in the menu which was also a pizza (go figure). It was mascarpone cheese with nutella and fruits served pizza-style. I have a feeling it wasn’t cooked in the same way the pizza was because the bread looked lighter and was definitely thicker than the dough of the actual pizzas but it was a delight to our tastebuds. The strawberry and pineapple slices on top helped balance out the sweetness from the nutella and mascarpone cheese and every bite made me love it a bit more. If I wasn’t so full with the previous pizzas we had, I would have eaten the whole thing just by myself (with no regrets).
The price range of the medium size pizzas are from 30SR to 35SR. That’s their standard size by the way, no small or family size as we’re used to. But it can be deceiving as two or three slices can already fill you up real good. Their menu is still new and they don’t have a wide range of options just yet but they do have enough for you to determine a favorite. Would you travel a little farther from the city enter for a make your own pizza? Well, we did and it didn’t hurt. It was actually a delicious experience. They don’t deliver just yet so it’s best to visit them if you want to give it a try. Enjoy!
Uthman Ibn Affnan Road, An Nada
Opens at 7PM to 12Am.
Sunday to Thursdays: Men Only
Friday and Saturday til Maghreb Prayer: Single ladies and Families Only
T: 011-812-5744 or +966555778421