In the mood for an all-American pizza?

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In the mood for an all-American pizza?

Pitfire Pizza in Dubai's Jumeirah Lake Towers makes a case for fast food being elevated to gourmet, while its quirky diner setting ups the foodie game


Sushmita Bose

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Published: Fri 7 Sep 2018, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 7 Sep 2018, 2:00 AM

My defining moment at Pitfire Pizza - set amid a natty space in JLT, Cluster D - comes when I taste the Chicken Penne Alfredo. "Scratch-made Alfredo [sauce]" the menu says, poured lovingly over grilled chicken, fresh mushrooms, parsley and garlic, and you taste the heightened flavours all at once. "This would easily pass as fine dining." Michele Johnson, the American owner, beams, and talks of Pitfire being a "passion project" of her and her husband's. They've both curated the NYC cab-fronting menu. Pizzas occupy prime slot in the menu, but there are pastas, salads, sides and desserts too.
Other than the usuals - Pepperoni and Margherita - there are signature pizzas such as Bill's Special; Bill is Michele's husband, and whatever he's loves is in the topping (mozzarella and provolone cheese, house-made Italian beef sausage, mushroom, red onions etc). There's also The Palm - a nod to Dubai's water-defying architecture probably - and Hawaii Five-Oh, Plain Jane, Tikka Torch and a host of other quirky names; the creativity is all hers, says Michele, a former HR professional who quit her original calling to get into the restaurant business full-time.
It's this kind of commitment that sees Pitfire being a pit-stop for hungry foodies. The tiny restaurant is diner-styled (I was half-expecting a jukebox to play hits from the 60s and 70s) with funky wall art. There's a lovely outside seating area, which will be great in winters. All ingredients are fresh and sourced with care, the doughs are leavened to make them as healthy as possible, and quality is not a casualty.
I'm not a huge fan of pizzas but I found the Spudnick - that has roasted potatoes - to be quite a showstopper. All the pizzas are crunchy, and surprisingly light, allowing for actual flavours to come through. Great pastas. Special shoutout for Michele's Apple Pie, a "family recipe".
This is not fancy, just plain cosy. So if you're tired of formality, and looking for some cool casual quotient, this should be your next stop. The diner setting lends it a functionality, while the decor is retro chic, and very American. Nice props. A bit too cramped though.
The waiting staff clearly have a plan in motion: try and serve as many customers as possible. There is a hurried efficiency, but don't expect any standing on ceremony. The friendly restaurant manager is always around to give reccos. Delivery services are restricted to a certain radius.
Again, given that it is a casual, fast-moving outfit, there's obviously no time for fancy presentation. But the food comes looking very wholesome. Not too pretty to eat: you'll want to tuck right in! So it does its job to satiate you visually. Simple and elegant crockery is a bonus.
Prices are slightly on the steeper side, but there is nothing to be sore about: the quality of ingredients and overall taste makes it well worth your spend. The portions are humongous ("American-sized"), so you're not even paying more in the long run!

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