Abu Dhabi Life - Yalla

• Pizza love

Discover how this homegrown Abu Dhabi brand has flourished to expand further afield

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An air of faded opulence hangs over the pizzeria that stands parallel to Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Street. And it is no bad thing! Maroon velvet curtains hang heavy in the window, and like the restaurant sign, are faded by the unforgivin­g sun. A large gang of delivery guys stand chatting, waiting to grab their orders from a hole-in-the-wall before disappeari­ng into the constant traffic to deliver their prized possession­s, piping hot, to homes and offices citywide.

Inside, simplicity reigns. There is a scattering of wooden tables and chairs, and ornamental plates line the walls, saluting Italy. Sat at one of the tables is Peter Samaha, owner and founder of Pizza Di Rocco, an Abu Dhabi born enterprise that, since its inception eight years ago, has made it is mark on the city we all love so much.

Peter stands to greet. He is tall, not just physically but we suspect in confidence of what he has achieved in such a short time – the bricks and mortar, the products, the hardworkin­g team and the service that is all echoed in the business’ success on every level. “There are a lot of good restaurant­s that come out of Abu Dhabi and Dubai,” says Peter who already has several branches in Abu Dhabi – Al Ain and Khalifa City and in JLT, Dubai, with more in the pipeline.

Authentici­ty is key at Pizza Di Rocco, reflected in the pure Italian pizzas, the dishes and the look and feel of the pizzeria itself. “Pizza?” he asks. A margherita lands on the table and is devoured as quickly as it arrives, surely the hallmark of a good pizza. The kitchen is abuzz with an army of chefs and the pizza oven burns brightly, working overtime to produce lunchtime orders faster than you can say Pizza Di Rocco.

The Pizza Di Rocco chefs - many of whom hail from India and Sri Lanka - are well versed in creating the perfectly thrown pizzas and rustic Italian dishes. Many have been with the company since the early days, previously learning from Italian masters. Peter regularly adds culinary strings to their bows through the yearly excursions made to the pizza heartland of Naples, where they attend pizza exhibition­s, no less, and visit suppliers’ homes where the chefs dine with the families of flour mill owners and into the bargain get to learn the authentic Italian tricks of the trade.

The location of a pizzeria of this calibre on the main artery exiting Abu Dhabi was chosen deliberate­ly. “It’s fundamenta­lly a delivery business,” says Peter. “We prepare the pizzas quickly, cook them quickly and are able to deliver quickly due to the location, which provides access to all corners of the city. It’s about speed.”

Today, the main kitchen of Pizza Di Rocco is in Musaffah, where ingredient­s such as the dough are prepared before being dispatched to the busy kitchen of Pizza Di Rocco on Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Street.

Undoubtedl­y, Peter is an entreprene­ur and clearly a successful

one. Seeing the business in action as chefs produce some of the most enviable pizzas and dishes in the city, it is difficult to believe that Peter, prior to Pizza Di Rocco, had no hospitalit­y experience other than enjoying a good pizza. Today, his portfolio includes Gino’s Deli too, which serves up its famous authentic panuozzo, using homemade ingredient­s and premium Italian flavours.

Peter has also been able to give back to the community by way of homegrown entreprene­urs. His dessert menu includes tasty delights from local brands like Monica Bakes and Cheesecake Lab, which Pizza Di Rocco has worked with to expand their sales infrastruc­ture and offer operationa­l support to help them grow.

Cleary Peter’s love of pizza has stood him and all of us in good stead, as he continuall­y supplies the people of Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Khalifa City and Dubai with some of the best and authentic pizza and Italian dishes around… and for the sake of brilliant pizza, long may that continue!

If this has got your mouth watering, head over to pizzadiroc­co.com and put your tastebuds to the test

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