A pizza place in Riyadh has a 9.3 rating in Foursquare making it the #1 pizza place in Riyadh! Tell me if that doesn’t pique your curiosity. It certainly did mine and while I have been lurking on its Foursquare page for quite a while now, it’s only this week that I managed to visit this pizzeria with my friend Jamila. I’m really curious what made this pizza place the “best pizza place” in Riyadh. Members in Foursquare also left comments that this pizza’s place in the closest pizza to those you can get and eat in Italy. Now, I don’t know anything about that since I haven’t been to Italy (wish ko lang) but when I read comments like that, I’m in!
La Rustica Pizzeria is located in Wadi Al Artawi Street, or the little street behind the Narcissus Hotel. If you’re coming from Faisaliah, King Fahd Road side, you will turn right on a small street before you reach the right to Tahlia Street. Better yet, see the map below because it’s a bit hard to write the directions without me motioning with my hands. It’s near this Black House coffee shop which you can see from King Fahd Road. Anyway, it’s in a corner and it is tiny. TINY.
The Single/Bachelor section is outside. Good luck with the weather nowadays but they have those mist sprays so it might not be too hot for you guys. Their Family section is small with only around 10 tables which can be combined to accommodate bigger groups. It can get a bot crowded and tight when all the tables are full and occupied (and they get full a lot). A small portion of the restaurant is dedicated to the pizza oven and the staff counter.
Although small, the restaurant is cozy. It has wooden interiors that has reddish brown bricks as walls. They have a shelf of bottles of olive oil and balsamic vinegar adorning one area and LED candles are on tables and bars. This is a place perfect for date night. Get the table in the corners so you don’t get disrupted with people coming and going. Because the restaurant has a limited space but quite popular, people have to wait for tables outside the restaurant and that is inconvenient if the outside temp of Riyadh is around 45 degrees. Waiting time varies to 30 up to 1 hour. The restaurant also only opens at 6:00PM and doesn’t accept reservations. My friend and I went around 6:30PM and we’re so glad that there were still empty tables and we didn’t have to wait.
Their menu is short. They only have 12 dishes (yes, I counted) and an assortment of familiar drinks. Of course, we went for what’s popular: the Burrata for appetizers, the La Rustica pizza for main, and the Creme Brulee for dessert. Plus two small bottles of regular Coke. Service is attentive and normal. The food wasn’t that fast but it was okay since we’re not expecting a fast food kind of service and food. We want to really savor our time and the food. Up first is the salad.
We went for the Burrata Salad because it looks new for us. It’s a ball of white covered in olive oil and surrounded by cherry tomatoes. On the other side of the white rectangle plate is a criss-cross of balsamic vinegar. We did a double take. Wait, this is a salad?! Other options in their salad menu are Rucola and Caprese. Burrata (the word means “buttered” in Italian) is a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream.
The outer shell is bouncy mozzarella and the inside is soft straciatella and cream. It’s almost a sin to cut this delicate ball but we have to do what we came here for: Eat! And so with a soft nudge of the knife, we dived into this ball of amazing cheese and cream and ate to our heart’s content. When sliced open, the soft cream spurts out and it’s a sight to behold. It’s so simple yet so creamy and satisfying! It has a subtle flavor and it tastes so fresh. Definitely good with the tomatoes, and even good with the pizza!
By the middle of our meal, the place started filling up.
So let’s go to that pizza:
We decided to order the pizza with the place’s name on it because this might be the restaurant’s best pizza yes? The La Rustica Pizza has buffalo mozzarella, tomato sauce, porcini mushroom, basil and extra virgin olive oil. For its price, we were expecting a bigger pizza but since this is an artisan place, we just tucked in and ate what’s in the wooden plate. The pizza has a char on its edges given to it by their signature wood-fire oven. It has chewy, soft, thin crust that’s actually good! It doesn’t look much on the plate but when we put it in our mouth, that’s when the goodness happened. Truly, this pizza is one of the best in Riyadh.
The pizza has great ingredients that mixed well together. It doesn’t even need meat to make it palatable or memorable. It’s already fine on its own. The warmth keeps the mozzarella cheese creamy and yummy (add extra cheese for SR 12). The tomato sauce is tangy and just right. It’s best eaten fresh out of the oven. And you know what makes this pizza great? It’s not cloying. After one slice, you come back for more; unlike some pizzas which have too many ingredients and too thick crusts that will leave you full after one slice. This doesn’t feel too much. We actually finished the entire pizza! This no-frills pie is already in my winner list (even though I’m not much of a pizza person myself). I would just like for it to be bigger for its price.
And for our dessert, the much talked about Creme Brulee. Now I’m not really a fan of Creme Brulee because I like my leche flan too much and this Italian/French dessert is almost the same but not quite. I like my custard thick and creamy and oozing with sweetness. The creme brulee is a bit runny and has a subtle sweetness that is not in your face like the leche flan‘s. It’s the demure sister and so my expectations are not high for La Rustica’s creme brulee. But you know what, I like it! I love it!
The rich custard base of their creme brulee is a little thick. The hard caramel on top is a great contrast to the silky, fine custard and I’m just blown away by this dessert. Again, what I like about this is it’s not cloying. We kept getting spoonfuls until we realized there’s only one tiny portion left. Haha! This dessert is amazing and definitely the best creme brulee I’ve ever had in Riyadh.
That being said, we enjoyed our time in La Rustica. Is it the best pizza place in Riyadh? Mid-range everything? Yes. It’s not cheap but it’s not too expensive also. So it’s the best pizza in its range. Also, if you like no-frills pizza that you should actually eat with your hands (what I liked to do is to get a slice, fold it to make it a two-fold slice and dunk it in a mixture of burrata, balsamic vinegar, and spicy olive oil), then La Rustica is for you. Go there just after they opened to secure a table. Go and devour their pizza Napoletana!
La Rustica Pizzeria
Wadi Al Artawi Street, Olaya
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia [MAP]
Operating Hours: 6:00PM to 11:00 PM (open every day except Sunday)