Does this celeb haunt live up to its star billing?

Walking into a restaurant with the name Jamie Oliver emblazoned across its exterior is bound to set a level of expectation. The once-Naked Chef’s rustic new JLT pizzeria is all about combining comfort food with affordability, something that its decidedly stripped-down, 1950s diner crossed with an Italian country house suits to a tee.

Garlic bread isn’t usually a dish we’d bother reviewing in What’s On, but it was recommended by the waiter – and it’s no exaggeration to say that Jamie’s Ultimate Garlic Bread (Dhs19) is, unquestionably, the best that we’ve ever eaten. The combination of buttermilk, roasted garlic and rosemary was outstanding and if Mr. Oliver opened a restaurant serving only this we would be first in line to eat there. But alas, we were there to try some pizzas, so resisted ordering a second serving and valiantly soldiered on with a portion of deliciously creamy Jamie’s burrata (Dhs49).

Offering pizzas on both sourdough and wholegrain dough is a clever way to give diners a choice of how healthy they want to be. Furthermore, the restaurant lets you substitute half of your pie in favour of a side or a small salad for the same price (we opted for this route and can recommend the fresh-tasting feta and watermelon salad (Dhs44) if you need something light).

The pizzas themselves were also of excellent standard. No pizzeria is worth its salt if it can’t pull off a classic Margherita (Dhs49), and Jamie’s Pizzeria totally nailed it. The freshness of the cheese, and taste of the tomato and basil, were comparable to any good ristorante pizzeria in Naples, which is about the highest compliment we can give. The same was true of the more adventurous carbonara pizza (Dhs69) which, while resembling a deconstructed gourmet (turkey) ham and cheese sandwich, was still supremely tasty, especially on the wholegrain base. The Meatball (Dhs69) with its spicy beef meatballs and stringy mozzarella was a great option as well.

Save room for the chocolate brownie (Dhs34). It’s tasty enough by itself, but when smothered with chocolate sauce, ice cream and caramelised popcorn, it’s elevated to the level of dessert supremacy.

There’s no shortage of places in Dubai to get a decent slice of pizza at an equally decent price, but Jamie’s Pizzeria has cemented itself as one of the few casual- dining restaurants that you simply must visit if you are on the hunt for the perfect pie. If only it delivered so we could have that garlic bread on call, whenever we felt a craving coming on.

Jamie’s Pizzeria by Jamie Oliver, Cluster R, Jumeirah Lakes Towers, daily 8am to 11pm. Tel (04) 874 7082. Taxi: Cluster R.

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