Red Tomato Pizza

Some places exude charm from a distance. All it takes is a periphery glance, even a fuzzy one, to know that the venue is your kind of spot. And so it was with Red Tomato Pizza. I caught a glimpse of it while walking to another restaurant in Barsha and knew I had to eat there. The large windowed entrance revealed sweet, rustic decor – wooden chairs painted a slapdash, dusty green and walls stuccoed with uneven lumps to evoke the feel of a crumbly Italian villa. The menu boasts authentic touches that I’ve never before seen in Dubai, such as arancini – fried balls of bolognese-stuffed rice and mozzarella. Naturally, I couldn’t resist these, and my date and I opened with them. The melted cheese trickled out of these crispy mounds, yet we would have preferred a steady gush – although they were satisfying (garlicky with a gentle texture), they were also a little dry; the rice had soaked up all the sauce it could muster, but was still slightly parched. More impressive were tender rings of calamari served in a fragrant seafood broth. It was a perfect Mediterranean treat: simply prepared yet sweating flavour. The restaurant takes a lot of pride in its wood-fired oven, which is visible to every patron from the open kitchen. In fact, the oven gets second billing on the sign out front. It’s clearly the speciality, so my date and I skipped the pastas – which sounded lovely, if basic – and chose from the array of gourmet-sounding pizzas. While Red Tomato Pizza isn’t exactly pricey, we found the pizzas to be a little small for the money. Yet while they’re not quite what you’d find in Milan, they still deserve an elite position in Dubai’s pizza hierarchy. The crusts were soft and chewy, the tomato sauce a wholesome variety that came from a stove top – not a jar – and the toppings fresh and innovative. Thin, nearly translucent slivers of courgette nuzzled against pink chunks of salmon on a light, refreshing slice of white pizza. While my date and I swore we wouldn’t clean our plates, we ended up finishing every morsel. I was equally enamoured with a simple spinach and ricotta pizza. We rounded off the meal with a rich tiramisu. Whereas sometimes in this town the Italian dessert is little more than whipped cream in a cup, this was fully saturated with the requisite espresso, and the balance between coffee-drenched lady fingers and cream was perfect. It seems that Red Tomato Pizza bases its business mainly on takeaway and delivery. But unlike many delivery joints in town, the restaurant also makes a charming spot for a meal indoors. Don’t miss it. The bill (for two) 2x Small bottles of water Dhs8 1x Arancini Dhs24 1x Calamari Dhs48 1x Small salmon pizza Dhs30 1x Small spinach pizza Dhs32 1x Tiramisu Dhs28 Total (excluding service) Dhs170

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