Fantastic Hole-in-the wall Pizzeria - Pizza di Rocco, Abu Dhabi

As great as the dining options are in Abu Dhabi, restaurants offer extremes. I have had the pleasure of dining at some of the nicest places in the city and also some non-descript places where they simply serve good food. No frills, but great on taste. However, we have fewer choices in between. If one looks at pizza for example, the choices are generally between high end hotels and chains, with the exception of a couple places. It was with a pioneer spirit that I visited Pizza Di Rocco on Salam street in search of  an alternative to the aforementioned extremes.

Driving from Mohammed Bin Zayed City was quite easy. It is a linear route and after 20 minutes I was there. The thing is people hear about the great pizza here and are often surprised when they see the simple looking exterior. I find it refreshing - a side street pizzeria without the bells and whistles one gets accustomed to in the capital.

Just like home

The restaurant is simple, with 4 tables. It really feels like a dining room in someone's house. A kitchen dresser at one side of the restaurant with some books and home made chilli oil contribute to that homely sense.

Admittedly most of Pizza di Rocco's business comes from their delivery service, but I see huge potential for them as a dine-in venue.

While it is a pizzeria and this is how they see themselves, there is a more than decent selection of appetizers and salads. We start off with a Caprese Salad and the Bresaola con Rucola. While waiting, I have a chat with the manager who talks about modest renovation plans for the restaurant. I am pleased that they will not ruin the existing character of the restaurant. There are just too few restaurants like this in the city. The plan will be to extend the open kitchen and add only another 2 or 3 tables.
Focaccia bread
Caprese salad
Bresaola and rucola
The starters are served. The Dutch tomatoes used are as tasty as they colourful, and I feel tempted to ask for a few tomatoes just to munch on, but I don't. I try the Caprese. Fresh, firm mozarella, freshly picked basil and the most fragrant pesto you could want. Excellent. The Rucola and Bresaola hit the spot too. Freshness abounds. The chunky but small pieces of parmesan complement it beautifully.

Next up is the pizza. The timing is perfect, and we don't wait long. My daughter orders the 'bambino' pizza, a special size for kids. The rest of the pizzas all come in one size. I like that. No longer  a debate as to what size pizza to get. One size. Keep it simple.
Soon-to-be extended open kitchen
Pizza - glorious pizza
The pizza, the Italia di Rocco, is presented in a novel way - the toppings are arranged to resemble the colours of the Italian flag. I like it. A conversation piece. The pizza - fresh buffalo mozarella. . Dutch cherry tomatoes. Yum. Thin crust, crispy on the edges and not soggy in the middle. How can you go wrong with that?

To finish our evening, we order two desserts - the Tiramisu and the Chocolate brownie. The tiramisu is light, fluffy and creamy. The brownie is dark, intense and rich in nuts and caramel. Both winners, in different ways. For sheer decadence and indulgence, though, I recommend the brownie!

Chocolate brownie

The staff are really friendly. The waiting staff, staff behind the counter and the chefs all do their bit to leave me with an overwhelming feeling that this little pizzeria is going to be around for a long time. It was so nice just to drive up to a place, no valet parking, dressed in super casual clothes and just have a relaxing evening, not in a mall or a hotel. Just somewhere. Nowhere. Will be back.

Pizza di Rocco, 
Al Salam Street (closest corner Al Falah street)
Abu Dhabi,
02 641 8300

Appetisers and Salads 14-34 Dhs
Pizza 39-52 Dhs
Lasgana 46 Dhs
Desserts 12-18 Dhs

                                                                                                                            Pictures thanks to Nokia Creative Studio on my Nokia 1520
Brandon Stoltenkamp