Abu Dhabi Life - Yalla
• Pizza love
Discover how this homegrown Abu Dhabi brand has flourished to expand further afield
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